I've been really angry lately.
I'm sure some of you have noticed.
I should be working on some projects I have going right now, but after almost a month of bottling this in, I need to get it out. Somehow.
I wish I could pin my anger on any single thing. Some of the cause is obvious. Other parts, less so.
Of course, I'm angry at the person barely a quarter of our electorate decided should be our president. But I'm far angrier at the almost 50% of Americans who either couldn't be bothered to vote, or even worse, were disenfranchised - mostly by a right wing who claim voter fraud that has no statistical evidence, but really, just want to eliminate urban voters.
I'm frustrated with friends who blame, even partly, third parties for what happened, even though I'm not angry at them for that view. I get it, I really do. My anger lies with the fact that we were in an election that should have been a stark, obvious choice, and third party votes did materially tip the balance in a few states. It should never have been that close. Third parties need to be a viable option in this country. The lack of them is a large part of the feeling of disenfranchisement, even for those who haven’t been disenfranchised. Criticizing people for voting for what they feel is right, not for what they feel is "the lesser of two evils", right or wrong, is not how we improve our democracy. Yes, even if it means we get a fascist, racist, sexist demagogue for our president. The fact that person even had a chance should be the topic, not people who actively voted in a way we didn't.
I'm angry that someone I consider a good friend - and I'm certain there are many like him - feels their vote doesn't matter because of how our election system is rigged. I'm not talking about the electoral college, I'm talking about our national mentality of a winner take all attitude. And in his case, he still voted. If those almost 50% who didn't vote, did? Guess what. I’m reasonably certain their vote would start mattering. But it's hard to convince people of that. If we want change in a representative democracy, and we abdicate our power to make change, well, who's exactly to blame? Focusing on the president is a constant failure we make as an electorate. If we saw more libertarians, greens, constitutionalists, democratic socialists, in state governments, in congress, in the senate, you better believe presidential candidates would have to seriously reconsider how they run a campaign. But the state I live in? Has a top two only primary. Guess what that means for viable third party candidates most of the time? Exactly.
My emotions go so far beyond angry when I think that my wife and I must explain to our son how someone like our current president elect could get into office. In his daycare, he is one of the most lily white children there. Most of his friends come from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds. From the first day he started interacting with people outside his family, he's been seeing every skin tone, hearing different accents, wildly differing clothing styles. As he gets older, he'll see our good friends who are LBGTQI in loving, lasting relationships, but still see them assaulted with the hate of religious bigots who think they are entitled to inflict their beliefs on others. People who think by simply allowing others to exist, they're somehow being persecuted, being forced to accept someone else’s lifestyle.
I've been so angry, I feel like I've been almost paralyzed with it. I still don't know how to deal with it. Anyone who's known me for a long time knows I'm a passionate person, quick to outrage, quick to laugh, quick to love. I have spent much of my life laughing, loving, and trying to enjoy life. Right now, I feel like anger has taken over all my other emotions. It's tinged with sadness, but it is a very base anger. The reasons may be nuanced, but the anger is not.
What can I do?
When I wake up in the morning, I tell my partner, my friend, my wife how much I love her. Even when the sadness and anger is evident in my eyes, she smiles, hugs me back and tells me how much she loves me. She's been doing it for over 20 years.
I eagerly wait for my son to wake up, so I can give him a hug. Kiss his blond sheath of hair. It's not really a mop. Like mom and dad, he has fine hair. I talk to him. We both laugh with him, attack his belly, start laughing at his laughter until all three of us are almost in tears. We go for hikes to see the beauty of the world that will hopefully still be there when he's older. We do whatever we can for him to build not just his intelligence, but his emotional intelligence, his empathy. Something that seems sorely lacking in the world today.
I give our three cats a scritch on the head, or a belly rub whenever I walk by them. I invite them on my lap whenever I'm reading. Little jerks rarely take me up on it, but I keep trying. I sigh contentedly when one walks up to me on the bed and curls up on my left shoulder, because I'm taking a nap, just like a good cat should.
I try and interact with friends. It's often just on Facebook, but I'm trying to get better about going to lunch, or coffee, and see the people who bring me joy in my life.
I try and get on video chat with my brother, so he and his wife can see their nephew more often. I still don't do it enough, but I want my son to know his uncle and aunt, because they're amazing people.
I tell my mom I miss her pretty much every day.
I plan, I ponder, and I work on ways to find a way forward for me, for my family, to live life more fully, enjoy life more richly, and experience more of the world.
Is it enough? Honestly, I don't know. I'm still angry. Even more so because at the macro level, I feel like I have almost no power to change anything. I voted. I stayed informed. I tried to have good discussions with friends. But the country that is my home has made its choice, and I see a lot of pain coming.
But me being me, the best way to deal with pain in my life has been laughter. Love. Looking on the bright side, while still acknowledging the dark, shittier side.
We'll see what happens next. We'll see where we go from here.