These are the events our kids will study in school and come home to ask us about. Have you thought about what you are going to say?
Will you look your kids in the eye and tell them you supported Trump? Will you look them in the eye and say you stood by as women were denied reproductive rights, access to healthcare and equal resources? Will you look them in the eye and say you stood by as innocent men and women were detained and denied the ability to return to their homes, their families, their schools because of where they were born? Will you be able to tell them you DID something other than share articles and get into arguments on Facebook? Speaking of which I REALLY need to stop getting into political fights on Facebook. But seriously, they are like a car wreck on the highway – you know you should just keep driving, but you can’t help but stop and stare.
My boys are too young to talk to about what is going on in the world, but someday soon, before I blink my eyes, they will be ready to ask. They will ask where I was on 9-11, they will ask about Columbine and Sandy Hook. They will ask about the Women’s March and Donald Trump. And I’m trying to figure out how to think, act and proceed in a way that will make them proud of my answers.
I didn’t vote for Trump. I think he’s a bigot, a sexist and an entitled pig. BUT, I’m embarrassed to admit I was intrigued by his presidency in a hopeful way. When he was elected, I wasn’t angry or upset. I was curious. Curious what a man with ZERO political background would do with the most powerful political position in the country. I was curious if he might actually be able to break through the bureaucratic red tape to improve our country. I was curious if he would really return the power to the people instead of squirreling it away on a hill run by men and women who will never really know what it’s like to not be able to afford a baby sitter, or pay for healthcare, or send their kids to a school in a decent district, or own a home.
I’m sad to admit that a week ago I was hopeful. I looked at the anti-Trump protesters and thought…come on…give him a chance. As women and men gathered, marched and stood up together, I cringed each time I heard the Women’s March referred to as an Anti-Trump rally. I shuddered when celebrities stood on their pulpit and spat words of hate toward the President instead of talking about REAL issues and proposing positive change. I believed (and still do) that protesting the election and inauguration of Trump is a waste of time that could be better spent ACTUALLY effecting change. I felt that those hung up on his election and inauguration were essentially having a giant temper tantrum. I thought they needed to grow up and GET OVER IT.
Don’t get me wrong, I strongly supported the Women’s March. I would have been marching proudly if I didn’t have a newborn attached to my boob. (Zero chance I was going to take him into a massive crowded area during flu season with active whooping cough, RSV and measles outbreaks.) I felt that now was the time to band together, make our needs known. I felt that if we joined together, organized and spoke up, he would see that women and minorities have policy needs.
I thought here is a man who knows what gets ratings, what gets votes, what wins elections. He ran on sensationalized ideas and outlandish agendas carefully crafted to incite people to vote. But he couldn’t POSSIBLY really intend to act on his insane campaign promises.
I was wrong.
Fast-forward a week later and both my heart and my head hurt. I have watched while Trump denied funding to groups that provide necessary and potentially life saving healthcare to women across the globe. I have watched as he made it harder for Americans to secure insurance and for women to have access to breastfeeding support. I have watched as he denied entry to our country to innocent men, women and CHILDREN.
I called my parents the day of the Women’s March and jokingly asked my dad if he was gonna hit the picket line. You see, my dad and I consistently debate politics and social issues. It’s kind of our thing. My dad is somewhat of an uber-conservative republican and I’m essentially a socialist. We used to spend the entire 16 hour car drive down to college debating social policy. There is nothing I love more than a heated political debate. Even if it often ends in me telling my dad I am shocked and offended by his views and hanging up. My mom had texted me about my opinion on new hardwood floors, but I couldn’t resist chatting about the current events with my dad when he answered. My mom (being the political woman that she is) asked if we could please talk about something “important” like the floors because her phone battery was dying. I then asked what they did in the 70s during Vietnam? I mean they lived through the last real age of protest. They claimed that that didn’t happen in our small western New York town…that there were only protests and riots at Kent State and in NYC and California?! I told them clearly they were too high to notice and promptly texted them wikipedia links to photos of Vietnam protests, marches and rallies in our sheltered little town.
You see, this is our Vietnam. This is our Civil War. This is our Holocaust.
And all I can think is that this is what our kids and our grandkids are going to ask us about. This is what they are going to come home wide-eyed, poised with a pen and paper (ok fine, a laptop) and a list of questions ready to ask us about. This is what they are going to want to know what it was like to live through.
And then that made me wonder even more. What will I say? Will I be proud to tell them what I did, what I believed, what I stood for?
I wonder what the Nazi’s said to their grandkids when they were asked about the Holocaust. Were they overcome with guilt? Did they tell them what they did? Did they talk about the lives they took?
Were slave-owners ashamed of the flags they flew and the men and women whose lives they repressed? Did they tell their grandkids about the hatred, the bigotry, the racism? Did they regret their beliefs and their actions?
And our parents? Did they sit back in their idyllic sheltered town smoking weed and ignoring the ribbons tied around trees and headlines glaring on the newspaper pages? Or did they stand up?
What about you? Will you tell your kids you marched? Will you tell them you called your representatives to get them to vote for equality, access to healthcare and the rights of ALL? Did you flock to the airport and protest the detainment of innocent, hardworking men, women and children? Did you cheer on the man that is trying to degrade the fabric our country was founded on or fight to stop the insanity?
I know what I believe. I know what I want to fight for. Now I need to find the courage to stand up and do it. Because giving myself tendonitis engaging in heated Facebook debates is NOT going to be what makes a difference. (Despite the masochistic joy it brings me.) Now is the time to do something, because I don’t want to have to avert my eyes as I tell my kids that I did nothing.