Can you go home again? And even if you could, should you?
Most of you are shouting “HELL NO” because past experiences discourage such a fanciful exercise. Returning to small classrooms remind us how it felt being small and powerless. Class reunions trigger old insecurities and disappoint dreams of rekindling old bonds. Family get-togethers rife with tension inspire endless novels, plays, and films skewering the underlying hypocrisy and pain.
Yet the enduring truth about family – be it is biological or created – is no one knows you – or rather past parts of you – better. Conversely you know them. It explains why nothing hurts worse than a searing conversation with a past lover, estranged family member, or classmate with an overly good memory (yes they exist, even in my age group :)). Wisely many of us avoid these conversations (not only do we suffer but we inflict suffering in return). Too often funerals drive home the painful finality of this choice. Still most of us have moved on to create new families and/or communities so we generally even survive this horrible guilt.
However the very items sowing the seeds of emotional terror also support the bridge to honest communication. Despite conventional wisdom – and millions spent to reinforce it – deep down no one carries more credibility than someone of our own background. (Yes, we can all name favorite pundits, celebrities, and ball players. But I said DEEP DOWN.) The same bridge(s) among us also provides refuge when things get really bad (pride be dammed) financially or emotionally. Past closeness and ever-present DNA spawn obligation deeper than the eye can fathom.
Its this ever present obligation – and past bonds – which prompt me to post the following election advice to old friends and classmates.
Yes, it hurts to lose campaigns. I have spent most of life supporting losing candidates and causes because either conscience (liberal) or identity (lesbian) demanded it. Afterwards I spent my free time fighting those new administration’s policies on war, poverty, or civil rights. Similarly, each year I came up with money I didn’t have to fight nearly annual referendums designed to prevent the LGBT community from holding jobs or keeping our families and relationships safe. I don’t begrudge the time or the money, especially since each seems to be paying off. It’s the same reasoning prompting me to respect those former friends, classmates, and family members still pushing for a conservative movement. Hopefully this mutual respect will allow us to find common areas of agreement.
However I must address a disturbingly large fringe of you. (Mind you, though, it truthfully surprises me who among you ended up on this fringe.)
Grow up people. Quash the racist imagery (you know who you are). Quit mocking poor and disabled folks (especially when some many of us remain a paycheck or diagnosis away from joining them). Quiet your inner demons demanding you see each darker skinner person as a criminal non-citizen (especially when as a child most of you resisted this temptation). None of you either came from – or even married – the fabled 1%. Many of you – like me – lack the racial purity necessary to truly belong to Aryan Nation. Even choosing a conservative parish won’t save you when the forces behind most organized religions decided to jettison you (besides how many of you really want your life run by an Ayatollah of any stripe?).
This election merely gave voice to the pre-existing New Diversity. Most of your children will move on to embrace it either economically (it makes good business sense) or romantically (to paraphrase a brilliant writer: “the best racial integration is horizontal” — why, it builds family). They will leave you behind much like many of us turned away from our grandparents’ overt racism. You will also find yourselves increasingly isolated both at work or online.
If you really can’t hold it together right now, then step away from the keyboard. Many of us are watching appalled and with growing anger. Even if you want to cut off all our past connections, remember what you type stays somewhere. Make similarly stupid remarks at work and you will find folks scouring for other racist comments when they sue you. Most importantly, a time-out might also let you remember how we all once wanted to make the future a better place.