A similar thing happens to me on many mornings lately.
My eyes open and I suddenly become aware that I’m awake. My mind quickly begins assembling the first few seconds of my day (making plans, organizing my checklist), when a terrible interruption breaks in and I remember:
Yes, that madman is actually our President. That really happened.
The realization again turns my stomach, and I find myself contemplating going back to sleep but know that I can’t. I begin replaying everything in my head and struggle once more to make any sense of it all.
And just like that it’s November 9th all over again—and a fresh grief returns.
Or the sickening reminder may abruptly intrude later in the day, while I’m having dinner with friends or driving through the countryside or playing in the yard with my children or laughing at a movie I love; tempering the joy, dimming the light.
And I know that I’m not alone. I know that every single day some variation of these moments is being played out millions of times inside the heads of people all over this country; people like me who have found the reservoirs of hope dangerously low since November, and who can’t seem to shake the profound sense of dread hovering always in the periphery of their daily life.
Yes, this is our Great Depression.
And it isn’t just the reality of the man who we’ve allowed to ascend to the Presidency, though that would be reason enough for despair. It’s the ugliness we’ve seen as he’s made his way there. It’s the sickness that the America we love has shown itself afflicted with. It’s the weight of every horrible reality about our nation; all our bigotry and discord and hatred set upon our chests, hampering our breath.
But it’s much closer than that, too.
It’s the words we’ve heard from family members, the stuff we learned about our neighbors, the social media posts from church friends, the incendiary sermons from our pastors, the arguments we’ve had with co-workers. Every square inch of life seems polluted now. Nothing feels untouched.
And the question becomes: How do we transform this near paralyzing sense of sadness into something redemptive?
As with all grief, eventually there must be movement. When there is profound loss of any kind, the only real path is forward; to craft something beautiful and meaningful and life-affirming in response to what has been taken away. You learn to walk again, even if it is with a limp. You begin the painful, laborious act of living in direct opposition to your grief.
It is the same in these days for those of us who feel cheated out of a kinder, more diverse, more decent America than the one we now have. Individually and collectively we will have to be the daily, bold, defiant pushback against all that feels wrong here.
This pushback will come in the small things; in the art we create and the conversations we have and the quiet gestures of compassion that are barely visible.
It will come in the way we fully celebrate daily life; having dinner with friends, driving through the countryside, playing in the yard with our children, laughing at a movie we love.
It will come as we loudly and unapologetically speak truth where truth is not welcome.
It will come as we connect with one another on social media and in faith communities and in our neighborhoods, and as we work together to demand accountability from our elected officials.
It will come as we use the shared resources of our experience and our talents and our numbers to ensure that our children inherit a world worth being here for.
It will come as we transform our grief into goodness.
Yes friend, there is a great deal to grieve over in these days and there will be more to ahead—but there is even more worth fighting for.
So yes grieve, but then move.
Be fueled by your sadness, strengthened by your anger.
And find a way to keep moving forward, even if it is with a limp.
Together we will survive this Great Depression—by resisting it.