Here We Go Again
On Monday two weeks ago, I turned 50. That same week I watched as a bunch of mostly old, wealthy, white men ignored mountains of evidence and public outcry and advanced a completely unsuitable candidate to the highest court in the land, then gloated about it.
Now, we pretty much knew this was going to happen. Still, it was hard to watch it unfold, particularly as it’s just the latest in a long string of things we’ve had to watch happen ever since the Orange Toddler broke into the White House and started soiling the carpets as he attempts to drag American society six decades back into the past.
Another morning I saw an image taken by photographer Mary Mathis, who covered the Kavanaugh hearing protests for NPR. The photo is of a woman sitting on a bench, clearly distraught. Accompanying it is Mathis’s account of how the woman, when approached for permission to use her image, responded by saying, “How are we going to find the strength to keep fighting? Are we going to be out here for another 30 years? I don’t have 30 years left.”
This is exactly how I feel. This is not where I expected the world I live in to be when I turned 50. I thought we were better than this. I like to think most of us are. And that’s what’s terrifying about where we currently find ourselves. If so many of us want a different world, why don’t we have it? Why are horrible, stupid, destructive people still winning?
The first book that made me consider the nature of evil was Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. In that story, the world is under the shadow of the Black Thing, an evil force determined to consume everything. When the young protagonists ask how they can possibly fight it, they’re told to stand up to it with love, to combat darkness with light, evil with good, hate with kindness.
When I read this, around the age of eight, I thought this was a lovely idea. Of course you could combat evil with good. After all, that was the theme of some of my favorite stories, from Dorothy defeating the Wicked Witch of the West to the rebels battling the Imperial baddies. Good, I was conditioned to believe, would always win out, no matter the odds.
I’m no longer so sure about that.
Every time something awful happens, I hear the same response from people who are horrified by it: We can’t let this happen again! We have to vote! We have to make our voices heard!
Well, some of us did vote. Some of us did make our voices heard. And look what we got. The corruption currently eating away at the heart of this country is not a Black Thing that can be beaten back by love and light. It’s immune to reason, to justice, to kindness and righteous anger, and to all of the things we’ve been told will vanquish it. It’s like the monster in a bad B-movie that keeps coming back again and again and again for one more kill.
Now, the good news is that, eventually, those monsters always do die. And this one will as well. I really want to believe that this is the last gasp of a desperate group of people who are quickly becoming the minority and soon will be rightfully extinct. I want to believe that the wave of change that started with the primaries will grow into a November tsunami that will wipe the slate clean (or at least slightly cleaner) and keep on going.
But like the woman on the bench in Mary Mathis’s photo, I am tired. There are days when I want to disappear and leave the world to end the way it will. Then there are days when I think it’s still worth fighting for. The problem is, those latter days are getting fewer and farther between. And I’m running out of ideas.
After the Kavanaugh confirmation vote, my social media immediately began filling up with the frustrated cries of people feeling as I do. Women in particular are outraged, as once again their experiences have been discounted, their opinions shunted aside for the political gain of men who care nothing about them. My anger is rage-inducing, and I cannot even imagine what theirs feels like. Many have fought for years to be heard, to be treated with respect, to gain some measure of equality.
This is not the world they fought for. It is not the world they wanted to leave to the next generation. Many of them feel as if they’re starting over, only now against even more insurmountable odds.
My hope is that this, finally, is the last straw; that even though we are weary and tired of trying, this will be the thing that gets us all to turn to our worn-out compatriots and say, “Yeah, I know. But what else have we got to do today but try to change the world?”
See you on the battlefield.▼
Michael Thomas Ford is a much-published Lambda Literary award-winning author. More Michael Thomas Ford