When George W. Bush was elected, so many people in my “echo chamber” back then were in disbelief. I personally thought he would be an awful president, and knew that most of the work would be done by his vampiric VP and their cabal of powerful movers and shakers, and pretty much, I feel that’s what happened.
Immediately post-election, a website was started called Sorry Everybody, which was a place for U.S. citizens to apologize to the world for electing that man. Perhaps a source of amusement for some, others found it a way to express fear and angst about what would come under the 2nd Bush presidency. I wish it were that simple now. I thought then that I felt despair and shame about the choice our country had made in electing a president, but I did not know how much worse it could get.
The divisiveness this election has caused has been immeasurable but also important. The arguments, the shouting, the online spewing, all have begun to lay bare how very different people are in our country. Families have been torn apart. Long-term friendships have been severed. All over “politics,” as if that isn’t important. I have been yelled at with more vehemence during and immediately post-election both online and in person than has ever happened to me before. I’ve ended friendships with people who have positions I find unconscionable. I’ve also made a lot of new friends.
I’ve come to a place where I realize that I do not want people in my life who don’t hold the same beliefs that I do about many of the hot button topics that bubbled to the surface during this election. It’s not enough to close your eyes and say pass the potatoes to someone who would quit talking to you or make you leave their home if you had a human rights campaign sticker on your car, or because you brought a same-sex partner to the Thanksgiving meal instead of an opposite sex partner.
Maybe my echo chamber is the only way I can survive this presidency. To be able to look around and know there are others with heart, who care, who see the advantages and disadvantages different sexes, classes and races deal with, to recognize and work for change, who work to accept rather than further divide. Who come from a place in their heart of acceptance and love, not suspicion, mistrust and fear. Those are the people I want to be around, and want my kid to be around.
And so we retreat into our world, me and my kid. We watch funny videos. We prepare for Thanksgiving, where we’ll talk about how our founders immigrated to the country and the unkind way they dealt with those who were already here. We’ll give thanks for the roof over our head, for heat, for clean water, for a bountiful table. We’ll tell stories and laugh and drink and eat and try to be thankful for every day that we can continue to live our lives as normally as possible, until the time comes when we cannot, as it may be around any corner. That’s all we can do. And it’s what we must do.