I'm sitting here at Saltonstall Arts Colony, thinking about my thesis. I'm turning it in next week, and a few weeks ago had booked this time to retreat alone and finish the thing. This colony and the land surrounding it is magical, and though I'm glad to be here, I'm also in mourning. Like in the wake of 9/11. Something has died and I'm left wondering how it happened, it is true, and why is there so much hatred in the world?
The anger is underneath my skin. I haven't dealt with it yet. It simmers, slips to sadness, roils again, slows to resistance, then bubbles up again. I want to scream and swear at people I know who claim that "not everyone who voted for trump is a xenophobic racist." People who say we should "give him a shot." People who didn't vote because "neither of the candidates deserves my vote." I want to shake them, talk to them, fight them, smack them upside the head. I want them to somehow see their white privilege and their own deeply rooted racism. I want to unfriend them, ignore them, shut them out, refuse to see them. I want them to take back their wrongs and apologize.
I can't do those things. That would make it all worse. The divide in this country is so great, so vast, so seemingly insurmountable. I know anger doesn't bridge that gap (nor does Facebook). But the urge to hate comes so easily for all of us. For me.
This morning the sun streamed in my windows and the hope rose up that this had all been a nightmare. It wasn't. I didn't think I would be ready to move on today, to accept, to even cope with this. The sorrow was so deep yesterday. But something new has emerged today. A coming together of people ready and willing to challenge the President-elect and all the hatred he spews forth. So many people I know are rejecting the results and vowing to fight back, in any way they can.
How do I reconcile the anger I feel with my wish to do good?
I can't get rid of the electoral college. I can't run for office myself. I can't stop global warming or make sure women can get birth control or prevent hate crimes. I can't do those things, and I am even more certain I can't change anyone's mind about their views. What I can do is so much more. And it is the one thought today that has given me the ability to calm down and write.
Every day, I pledge to do something good. I've banded together with a group of people around the country together on Facebook to encourage, share ideas, and support each other to do one simple act. One good thing a day for someone else, for the planet, for those in need.
I'm not saying I'm perfect, not saying I won't screw up and get angry and be mean or just plain feel selfish. But I'm going to try. And maybe I'll write about it all here.
A few ideas to get started:
Write a blog post and share it.
Pick up litter.
Buy someone else a coffee.
Walk instead of drive.
Give money to any one of myriad charities in need.
Walk dogs at the SPCA.
Volunteer at my child's school.
Write letters to political leaders.
Send a thank you note.
Give homeless people bottles of water.
Remove earthworms from the road after rain.
Help with the VIDA count.
Thank my child's teachers.
Hold the door for someone.
Reach out to someone in need.
Knit things for others.
Donate to NPR.
Make someone tea.
Send care packages.
Take someone out to lunch.
Remember to Love.
If you're interested in joining this movement of goodness, contact me.