Mourning & Marching

On Friday I mourned. 

On Saturday I marched! 


With my two sons by my side, in a crazy snowstorm. 

The boys & I talked about the election a lot that day. Why we were marching. Why we *needed* to march. 

We watched the news together Saturday evening and saw the new press secretary insist this inauguration was the largest in history (easily disproven) and watched the new president lie & awkwardly, unsuccessfully try to manipulate members of the CIA in front of their memorial wall. With nary a glance at it. Instinctively I feel like President Obama would have looked at it, referenced it, and felt the full gravity of it. Bygones. 

After the news my oldest said, “mom, turn it off! And don’t get on Facebook anymore! I don’t want to see you cry.” But I didn’t, then. I kept reading. Facebook, Twitter, CNN (because they all up in his bizness now!) and I saw the magnificent march, the largest protest in U.S. History! And I knew it had fallen on deaf ears. He doesn’t care WHY we marched. He only cares that we got a bigger turnout. 

And I saw the ridicule. The jokes, from lawmakers even, about how ridiculous it was, how useless. 

So then I wrote this note below, posted it on Facebook and then deleted the app from my phone. Poof!

* * *

My friends – I’ve heard a variation of this several times today: 

“Whiny libtards protesting because they didn’t win. We didn’t react like this when Obama won.”

Words matter. 

The Women’s March was to remind the new president that women’s rights, and minority rights, are all human rights. There should be no distinction by gender or skin color, or other distinguishing factor. Fundamental human rights for all humans. This was not a protest of hate but a show of solidarity and strength, to remind those who may harm our rights that we are here and won’t be silent. 

By the way, some of you did protest when Obama was elected – with fake lynchings, don’t you recall? And still to this day call the Obamas monkeys because of their skin color. Oh? You don’t like being lumped in and generalized with your neo-nazi, white supremacist brothers? Well neither do I like being lumped in with far-left violent protesters. I’m just a 41 year old single full-time working mom with two sons and I want the same rights and autonomy with my body, and the same pay rate, as the white males I work with everyday. Why is that so hard? 

Give the new president a chance, you say? How many? I heard more lies and hate spill from his very mouth today, his first full day in office. He has said nothing to unite; only further encourage the divide. At what point is it enough? 

Christians, Jesus lovers, is this the president that you wanted? He couldn’t be more unlike Jesus if he tried. Constitutionalists, if you allow him to disregard multiple amendments then how can you continue to argue that the 2nd should be followed without exception? Why are you holding on to this incredible double-standard, allowing a multitude of sins, conflicts of interests, & ethical dilemmas, from him that would never, ever normally be forgiven? 

I will not encourage hate or disrespectful rants about him (though it’s his favorite mode of communication, I will go high) but neither will I sit quietly while our rights are flagrantly dismantled in front of us. As U.S. citizens, and patriots, it’s our charter to hold our government accountable. My children’s futures are at stake and what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t advocate for them? 

Call me every derogatory name in the book if you like, but I’m just like you – I have a belief system I refuse to deny. I’m genuinely terrified for our country in a way I haven’t been since 9/11 – except this time we unbelievably did it to ourselves. 

My son asked me tonight to stop reading the comments on Facebook and to turn off the news. He doesn’t like to see me upset. We’ve had a lot of frank conversations lately and, honestly, the kid recognizes right from wrong before I even have to say a word. Thank goodness for his love & compassion. 

So for everyone here I respect & love, I wanted to just put my thoughts on this out there – because I do prefer civility over name-calling, and I don’t like being ridiculed for standing up for fundamental human rights as if that’s somehow a bad thing. 

-Stef

* * * 

This week has progressed into even more of a nightmare. I can’t even articulate it, it would take too long, too many pages – but it’s even worse than I think we imagined it would be. The thin-skinned narcissism is even more apparent. This dictatorial style is right on point. Executive orders right & left reversing hard fought, much needed legislation. Gag orders. Media shutout & vilified. I have logged onto Facebook (via a browser) once or twice a day but it’s overwhelming. 

I am bereft. Scared. In shock & disbelief. I have felt paralyzed. What do I do? There’s no point in shouting it on Facebook. Everyone has become either numb or desensitized. We cannot be silent though. Our silence normalizes the actions of a mentally unhinged tyrant. 

Today I wrote my representatives. My senators and congressmen. All middle-aged or old white men, of course, because I live in Idaho. (God forbid we have a woman helping make decisions on female reproductive rights!) 

At least I did something. I contributed. It probably won’t help but I was as articulate as I could be, as patriotic as I could be, and appealed to their sense of duty & pride in our American culture, the tenets our country was founded on and the humanitarian and compassionate societal mores we have nurtured since we claimed our independence. 

Then I googled the best countries for Americans to easily move to – Canada, Mexico, the UAE, Sweden, and an island that is part of Norway call Svalbard, in case you were wondering. 

Heavenly creator, please unshackle our new president’s angel on his shoulder. Encourage just & right actions in our new leadership. Guide their decisions with our population as a whole in mind. Please help us to heal this rift and do better by all our people, all Americans, but also the global community who rely on America for strength and a steady heart. We can’t turn our backs on refugees. We can’t turn our backs on social justice, humanitarian causes, and compassion. Help our new president to learn humility, faith, how to employ the power of good. Amen. 

Good night, dear friends. We shall slog through this horror movie together and, hopefully, come out even stronger and more fierce on the other side. 

Love & light,

Stef

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I just can’t talk to you right now 

I’ve been dodging texts. I’ve been scrolling through Facebook quickly. I’ve been avoiding certain friends and even some family. Because I can’t take one more thing. 
I’m struggling to explain it. It feels like a form of PTSD. And not just because I’m a whiny bleeding heart liberal. It’s because my hope is broken, and it feels like a gaping open wound. 

Smug, mocking words from gloating friends who don’t understand this pain is like salt in the wound. They aren’t trying to hurt me, I understand that, but what hurts is that they don’t see it. They don’t feel it. That they aren’t empathetic to what seems so obvious a problem to me. 

I’m going to try to make this connection. I don’t know how to articulate it very well though so please bear with me. 

Over the last 2 years I’ve been treated pretty roughly, pretty indelicately, and disrespectfully, by men. 

I’ve dated. I’ve been on dating sites. There was even a very short period where I was a little self-destructive or just less cautious, I let down my guard, and some bad things happened. I learned my lesson, but at what cost? 

I have met some very lovely, friendly men – but I have also met many, many who don’t care two shits about me, my life, my sons, or my story. 

“Show me your tits, babe!” 

“We’ll go out sometime – why don’t I just come over tonight so we can get to know each other?” 

“What’s your favorite position?” 

“Wanna see my big cock? I can’t wait to see your pretty little mouth on it.”

“Don’t worry, I like big girls.” 

That last one from the worst of them. A predator who doesn’t see himself that way. 

I even had one guy, who provides Christian-based therapy to families by the way, yell at me, try to manipulate me by telling me I was throwing my life away, losing a fantastic opportunity, making a horrible life-altering decision (and thus I’m a stupid, terrible person) because I wouldn’t let him come to my house at 9 pm at night, with my sons at home, on a school night, during the very first conversation I had with him ever. He was personally affronted that I wouldn’t bend to his will. Men feeling like they can bully women, whether subtly or less so, is pervasive & it’s utter bullshit. I said no. I SAID NO. Why do you think that doesn’t apply to you? 

I have been used & abused. I have been insulted. I have been made to feel that there are no good, loving men out there – or at least none who could possibly care for me. 

So here I stand at the beginning of 2017. We are inaugurating a new President in less than 2 weeks. A man who, from my point of view, hates women except for what they can do for him visually or sexually. A man who has condoned reprehensible behavior and disrespect towards women. A man who, when I see him, I see the face of every man who has ever said, “hey baby, want to come sit on this? I got something for you and it’s really good. You’ll love it. You’ll be screaming for more.” 

He’s a host of other things too, of course. He’s not *just* a sexual predator. 

He’s not a real conservative; I’m sorry to all you hardcore conservatives who got saddled with this guy. I wish more of you had the balls to vote differently. He’s only in it for himself. He’s not a real patriot. He condones racism, xenophobia, and, this is the kicker for all you real conservatives, he’s dismissive of cultural & ethical mores that are inherent to our American history – including our reverence for the constitution. All you 2nd amendment diehards can’t fly that flag anymore when the president you elected is planning legislation that blatantly violates other amendments. 

He’s going to ban Muslims – well, I work with a bunch of Muslims and they are the kindest, most loving souls. Some were born in America. Muslim is their religion. This is their home. 

Every gay friend I have feels like their lives are a little more in jeopardy. 

The farmers from my hometown who voted for him so heartily because he’ll bring more water to the valley, they think – but should we calculate what the new tax burden will be for middle-class farmers? And building that Great Wall on the border to Mexico & deporting the illegals will be a double whammy to those farmers. Higher taxes to build the wall & they’ll lose a lot of their field workers. Poof! But maybe you’ll have water. I hope you have people there to harvest that crop. 

It’s like a never-ending series of blows. All of these things hurt. Grab them by the pussy. The media are idiots. Sore losers, he says. It’s not just because he won, you see, it’s not losing the battle itself, but it’s the fear of what he will do! He’s a bully on a big playground with thin skin and a penchant for beautiful women, and in his life he’s publicly enjoyed nearly all of the 7 deadly sins. Literally in public. He flaunted his skeletons and you judgemental, sanctimonious sheep all blindly normalized every one! Or passively turned a blind eye. 

And he hates women, and don’t we have it hard enough? Haven’t I experienced enough without all these imbeciles feeling like they are validated in their creepy, predatory behavior now? 

So though I mourn for all my minority friends who feel imperiled right now, I have to say this fear everyday is for myself as much as them. Will rapes go up? Maybe but how will we know since most aren’t reported and even fewer prosecuted? Our society doesn’t trust women. 

I am in fear that I will hear someone I like or love, praise him. That someone I trust will think he will do good in our world. I don’t want to lose respect for my family & friends any more than I already have. This election is tied to my heart, my physical well-being, in a way I can’t explain or even fully understand. I am scared. All the normalization of him as our next president is bothering me so much I can’t stand to think of it. 

My hope is broken. So I avoid certain friends who maybe want to good-naturedly tease me, but they don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know the pain they have caused simply allowing such a man to be elected. I feel personally offended, outraged, and resentful of every single person who voted for him. I feel abused, again. I feel like every vote for him was a vote against protecting women from sexual assault, from independence, from equality. 

So when I say to you, “please, not one word about the election, please!” It’s because I want to still like you. I want to still trust you. I want to still think that you have my back. There’s a reason I’m making this request. Please respect it. 

Xoxo,

Stef

It’s what we do

On Facebook the other day I was told by a complete stranger that I am responsible for the “dumming  down” [sic] of America. I thanked her for her comment, felt obliged to clarify the spelling of “dumbing,” and moved on with my life. 

Except it’s staying with me. Not that she called me dumb; she doesn’t know me, my job, my education, my background. She made a snap decision based on my political leanings; I’m dumb because she thinks people who believe as I do are all dumb.

What’s sticking with me is the assumption and accusation of stupidity that was railed at me though my statement was not provoking in the slightest – except for my political leanings. My statement was a plea for compassion. Is it irony that my plea for compassion is answered in the least compassionate way? I don’t know, because I’m an idiot. My English Lit degree taught me nothing, apparently. 

Except it taught me so much. I read books from different times, places & cultures. I visited a few different countries in my history as well, and I learned a little of how the Irish, the English & the Spaniards live.  

Are we Americans so egotistical that we assume we are so much better than any other population of people? We are all just clustered at different spots on the globe; because we were born there, in most cases. We usually are raised with certain cultural or societal mores & tenets, and as a adults hopefully we learn to question those. We either solidify those beliefs or we learn where the flaws are and we choose our own path. This is the American, Catholic, Muslim, black, white, redneck, English, Swahili way; it’s called growing up. We learn, we think, and then we decide what settles best within our souls. 

We Americans have never had our cities, our homes & our neighborhoods destroyed by war. We’ve never had to flee a terrorist regime. We sit in our comfy houses, with central heat to keep us warm, with multiple electronic devices telling what to think or do, or what we should believe. We very casually say, “no, don’t let the Syrian refugees in HERE! They might be bad and kill us.” What if it were the other way around? What if we were fleeing because our city was in tatters, our loved ones gone or dead, no job, no money …… what if it were us? Do you think it’s appropriate for another country to judge our admittance base on the Planned Parenthood shooter? Or the kid who shot up the church? Or the movie theater? Or Columbine? What if Canada closed their borders to Americans because we have too many radicalized, angry young white men with guns? 

When we let fear overcome compassion then they have won. 

When we refuse humanitarian aid because one of the refugees may become radicalized then they have won. 

When we refuse to share our bounty, our abundance of blessings, then they have won. 

When we refuse to save lives … well, you know. 

America was founded on the tenet of religious freedom. America was founded by refugees  who were fleeing an oppressive religious regime. (Yes, I’m speaking of the Europeans and not the native Indians who already had this land – that’s a whole different topic). Have we become so cold, so calculating, that we can’t recall our roots? Why are we here today? Because our ancestors were refugees! 

It takes a village to raise a village. When I see a kid get hurt I’m going to comfort him until is momma can. If my neighbor is out of flour I’m going to give him some. If there is no heat for some then we provide them warmth. It’s what we do – as humans first, Americans second. 

It’s what we do. Without compassion we are nothing. 

Peace, love & every ounce of good cheer,

Stef

P.S. My statement that provoked the dumbing down comment: 

I never said I was unconcerned about the terrorist incidents. I just don’t think preventing aid to refugees is the answer. The vast majority of them are families. I think compassion should dictate we help. The refugee process isn’t quick. There is a significant vetting process before people are allowed to come here. I’m concerned with any stereotyping that all Muslims are bad and I think we need to be careful about that. In my job I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many Muslims over the last 10 years. They are honest, loving Americans. Some born here, some not. One went to MIT & is now the CEO of a startup. Another is a neurologist. Another was in our Navy. They are all raising their families & loving America. These are just examples, but I think it’s important to humanize them so we don’t lump them all into one category. Every religion produces zealots, like Westboro Baptist, but the radicalization like the San Bernardino shooters, is going to happen regardless of the refugees. Yes, I would feel the same if a loved one of mine was there. I think saving thousands of refugee lives is just as important as fighting extreme radical terrorists. Without compassion we only have fear and that means the terrorists have already won a major victory.