Another Sunday…another look back at the week that was. I found this photo in my phone’s album. I didn’t even know I snapped it, but it felt comforting to me to read it. And so, since you said that you are listening, Siri, I do have a few things to say….
Roughly a quarter of our fellow Americans will be celebrating this week; the dawning of a new era and the dismantling of a government that they believed didn’t work for or acknowledge them. I assume that is what they voted for; someone who they believed would drain the swamp, dismantle everything accomplished over the past eight years and make America great again. The new leader of the free world is a celebrity outsider, with no experience governing, who knows how to build things, especially walls…which he promised to build along our southern border.
As for the rest of us? Three quarters of us will be saying goodbye to a decent and, as I believe history will remember him, a great president who served our country with distinction. We will be mourning what might have been, a diverse, inclusive community, where everyone is seen as a person of value, where we care for the least among us, where we all enjoy the freedom of religion to believe as we choose, or not at all, without fear, where we care for the sick, the elderly and the disabled, where education is affordable and accessible to all children, where diplomacy is favored over force, where we protect the fragile nature of our world, welcome the refugee and immigrant and where love is not stuffed into a tiny box.
It is quite a contrast, unprecedented in fact. I have struggled with my own heart in all of this. I would really like to be able to move on and get over it, but I can’t. I can’t ignore lessons of the past that scream at me from my subconscious triggering the gripping fear that has me questioning everything I thought was true. I feel powerless to stop the flood of memories…the weeks I feared for my life when a “christian brother” screamed that gay people should all be killed in response to my coming out. I remember trembling every time a motorcycle rambled through my neighborhood, wondering if he was coming after me. I am reminded that I lost friends and family during those dark days, people who could no longer support me because of “what” I was. I think of the times my partner and I were ignored in retail stores by clerks who refused to help us with our purchase (no, we didn’t sue them for their treatment, we just went somewhere else to spend our dollar…somewhere safe). And most frightening to me is the memory of lying in a hospital bed awaiting surgery, alone, because the staff refused to allow my partner to come back to wait with me, while repeatedly asking me, “Don’t you have any family here that you would like to come back to wait with you?” yet ignoring my repeated reply that I did. And the ER physician who refused to treat me unless “she” left the examining room. Forgive me if I can’t get over this and just move on. The fear is real.
I feel guilty for being upset. For feeling mistrust…for questioning everyone’s motives, for avoiding people who frighten me. They’re not who you think. They are church people, colleagues, family. And most of all I feel guilty because my fears are nothing compared to other targeted groups who stand to lose even more if the new government makes good on its promises. This is not who I am. I struggle to forgive every day…70 times 7 (I get what that means now). I am a loving, forgiving, compassionate person. At least that’s who I try to be.
And I want to trust the people who voted for this. I struggle to understand why, after knowing me, after saying they cared about me, loved me even, they could vote for a government that seeks to harm me, that would sanction discrimination against me in the name of religious freedom, to deny my family…and to harm a whole host of others. I would really like to live my life not having to worry that it all might end; without having to remain vigilant each day, ready to fight for my freedom and liberty. Pursuit of happiness seems like a frivolous luxury, when survival becomes one’s focus. And worst of all, I fear that I will be alone in this. Family, neighbors and coworkers proved on November 8th that I didn’t matter..at least not as much as their need to make a statement, to support whatever it is they voted for or against. And I suppose that is what hurts the most.
Shi Sai Sunday’s Week in ReVerse – 15 January 2017
we never thought time could end before the music stopped playing
“Go home to your families while you can,” he sighed, “nothing can save us now.”
we board coupes and tallyhos
to be committed
for relationships to work
committing fanatic deeds
…her favorite type of affair, a party for one
draped in ebon lace
exhausting all rhyme
starved for warmth beneath the sun’s icy glare
we can always hack the system with love
A shi sai or ReVerse poem is a summary poem with a single line lifted from each entry of a collection of work over a particular timeframe and re-penned in chronological order as a new poem. Unlike a collaborative poem, the shi sai features the words of one writer,providing a glimpse into their thoughts over time. I use it as a review of the previous week. 😊