Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Note to the Republic, for which I Stand.

“The world has been abnormal for so long that we've forgotten what it's like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.” 
― Madeleine L'Engle, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

I hardly know where to begin, even with Madeleine's very good quote considered. Because I've spent the last six weeks trying to decide if this blog should stand as a refuge from every ugly thing that's happened since the national election, or not. Refuge is a necessary thing when bad news seems to permeate an increasingly out-of-control world. We need to be able to get distance to think, gather strength, comfort ourselves with the familiar and the routine. When does it become escapism, willful ignoring, closing the door on those civic duties to which we are called, and to fellow citizens who need our voices? I do not know. I only know that increasingly, the answer to those questions may become very, very important. So while this blog has been a personal narrative about me and my home life, I couldn't pretend that the last months of our national discourse hasn't had me deeply worried. I would like this place to be as it always has, and if that's a refuge to me or others, that's a good thing. But I also don't want it to be a bubble. Because bubbles are fragile, and I refuse to be that. So here I am, struggling through this post as I've struggled through the last months of this politically grim year.

Right now, I am operating from these two positions.

1. I am repossessing patriot as a word that defines me, because I am. I am a patriot. I love my country, and I believe in the ideals towards which we have been imperfectly and at times violently struggling for well over two centuries. I believe that at all times, that means criticizing the hell out of it--where it's failed, where the people who claim to lead it have failed, when its citizens are failing to hold its government accountable. Everyone from Thomas Jefferson two hundred years ago down to the anonymous protester on the street corner yesterday has this right and responsibility. To the people who have said to me in the past months "if you don't like it, you can just leave....": Fuck no, I'm not leaving. My people have been in various ways always here (native peoples), since 1749 (Irish Protestants escaping religious violence in Belfast), or here since the 1880s (Germans living in the Ukraine, fleeing Russian oppression). My family members fought wars on this soil and abroad to defend this country's ideals. I am not going. I am not going to be quiet. 

2. I'm going to continue to love the people I love. Only I'm gonna do it louder. My circle of family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors includes people who don't think like me, believe like me, vote like me, or look like me. I think that's pretty well the whole point. This country has never, ever, in its entire history, been just one story about one kind of people who are exactly alike. That this republic is constructed of millions of individual stories, that they can encompass a broad range of human experience and thought, and still come together under one ideal, "We the People"-- is not just our struggle (and it has been) but it has also been our triumph when we get it right. And we do, often enough, get it right. That is worth fighting for. Right now, loving (in all the ways we define it) the people who are not just like me may not be only an act of love. It will be an act of solidarity. It will be an act of protection. It will be at times an act of civil protest. So I'm going to love. Out loud. Hard.

Stay and speak. Love loudly. That's what I have right now. I hope it is enough. I hope it is enough for all of us. 


  1. Amen! Thanks for this well written and passionate post. I couldn't agree more. I'm not leaving, and I'm not shutting up either.

  2. I'm with Gayle, too. Its been refreshing to read your post. Vive la difference! We must all find common ground an voice our opinions to guide this country of ours into the future regardless of our individual politics, and we must learn to listen to each other.

  3. ::standing ovation::

    Beautifully written, as always. I'm staying here too, but I'm not staying quiet. We are heading into uncharted and sometimes frightening territory, and we need each other.

  4. Thanks for everybody who commented both here and privately. It's meant more than you know.

  5. Laura,
    I didn't see this when you first posted. I love it. All of it. I've struggled, too, to know how to be in our strange new/old world. I'm still struggling. I think there are likely a fair number of words we need to reclaim, and patriot would be right at the top of the list. Perhaps "home" is another one. I hope you will keep writing here.

  6. You are not alone. I'm sure you know that; millions and millions of us out here feel as you do. And we have collectively reclaimed the word and the concept of "patriot."

    It's going to be a bumpy ride, but we have upcycled old knotty ropes to use as seat belts, and repurposed bicycle bells to use as warning alarms: The idiots are coming! The idiots are coming!

    Have you noticed that not one comment here has named names, and yet we ALL know exactly what we're talking about?