Hey, These Are Difficult Days. You’re Doing Great.

Hey.

I don’t know whether anyone’s told you lately or not, but you’re doing a great job.

Really.

You probably don’t feel that way, but under the conditions that’s understandable. You’ve been busy.
You’ve had your hands full.

Friend, take a second and think about what you’ve been through in the short span of the Spring:

You’ve dealt with an unprecedented health crisis that has paralyzed the planet.
With almost no warning, you’ve had to alter the way you do just about everything.
You’ve lost the ability to travel.
You’ve lost a good deal of income.
You may have even lost your job.
You’ve had to become a homeschool teacher.
You’ve had to become a primary caregiver.
You’ve had to become your own marriage counselor.

You’ve had to learn how to fix the dishwasher.
You’ve had to learn to cut your own hair.

You’ve had to search the dark web for toilet paper and then ration it like it was spun gold.
You’ve had to digest a relentless, ever-shifting barrage of news stories and expert recommendations and changing timelines and behavior restrictions.
You’ve had to experience birthdays and graduations and milestone moments you’d have never missed, through a jittery Zoom connection or a scratched phone screen.
You’ve had to grieve people you love dearly, from a distance and alone in a private funeral at your kitchen table.
You’ve been terribly lonely or you haven’t had a moment alone.
You’ve had to try and help your kids understand why they can’t go play with their friends, knowing it will still feel like a punishment to them.
You’ve sat with your sobbing teenager as the first breakup came at the absolute worst time.
You’ve had your faith shaken to its bedrock or may have lost your religion altogether.
You’ve watched your mental health deteriorate, as reality has become the nightmare you always imagined it was.
You’ve seen the death toll rise well beyond the worst of your fears when all this began.
You witnessed the absolute worst of humanity: hoarding pasta, berating grocery store clerks, protesting with weapons at capitol buildings, burning masks, calling 911 on people for simply existing.
You’ve watched more than one black man be murdered in the street.
You learned the levels of racism afflicting your family and your friendships and our leadership.
You’ve been reminded how fractured this nation is.
You’ve had to do all of  it without a single hug.

The level of difficulty of your current life is a few steps above Batman.

So yeah, you’ve gained a few pounds or you’ve slacked on the meal planning, or you’ve let some stuff slide around the house, or you’ve ignored the shrubs, or you’ve missed sending that birthday card, or you’ve binged watched a few dozen shows, or you’ve served cereal for dinner and called it “Breakfast Night”—give yourself a damn break.

No, you’re not equipped for this and yes, you’re overmatched and overwhelmed—because this is a special kind of creative and historic hell that no one could have prepared for and no one is thriving through.

No one.

Everyone you live with or love or see from a distance or marvel at on social media, is pressed so far past their limits that they are often near tears. Everyone is so beaten down by all the unknowns, that their minds are exhausted from a million swirling contingencies and scenarios and possibilities. Everyone is working with Plan B (or Plan Q) at this point, and we’re all feeling like we’re floundering and failing.

It is enough right now to survive and to accept that as a victory.

You’re here and you’re somehow making the unworkable work: with the sub par dinners and the less-than-stellar haircut and the occasional tantrums from your child or your lover or yourself.

You’re MacGyver—ing a makeshift life from the odd assortment of stuff that you can cobble together around you, and honestly it’s a thing of beauty to behold.

So have a good cry or a piece of cake, go scream into your pillow or run around the block, toss up a prayer or drop an f-bomb—and then take a look around and survey your handiwork: the stuff you’ve made or the things you’ve fixed or the people you’ve cared for or the work you’ve done, and appreciate the duress under which you’ve managed it all.

One day you’re going to look back on these days and realize you weren’t a failure or a fraud or a lousy parent or a crappy partner, you’re going to see that you were a frickin’ superhero doing world-saving work in Kryptonite circumstances that should have leveled you but didn’t. You’re going to see that it was your finest hour.

And because you likely can’t see that right now, I wanted you to know that I see it in you.

So, yeah you’ve got a lot on your plate, but you’re making it work.

Life is not what you planned but it’s yours.

Keep going.

You’re doing great.

 

 

 

Forcing Schools to Open in A Pandemic is Child Abuse

The President wants schools open in the Fall and he’s threatening to withhold funding to those that refuse—this while several states are seeing record numbers of new cases.

This is medically irresponsible.
It’s partisan politics of the most heinous variety.
It’s extortion leveraging the most vulnerable among us.

It’s also child abuse.

Willfully endangering the welfare of a child is almost universally agreed upon as the greatest of human transgressions, and yet this is the certain crime of an Administration who want to forcefully send millions of children, teachers, administrators, and support staff into close proximity to one another, in the throes of a pandemic that has as of this date killed 132,000 people—and for which there is no treatment and no vaccine.

The United States has been the victim of a woefully underprepared Federal response, a rushed reopening by Republican governors, a rudderless Administration, and the wild mood swings of a President who has spent more time planning vanity rallies and publicly criticizing his own medical experts—than he has formulating any kind of coherent plan to prevent more sickness and death.

As parents, to allow him any say into the lives and well-being of our children is to fail to properly protect them from harm. It is willful endangerment. This President is as great a threat to them as any monsters lurking online or around the corner, any accident or illness, any natural or created hazard.

The most pathetic aspect of this push to reopen schools is that it is being done in the name of caring for children, when in reality they are simply another meaningless human means to a political end, for a leader who is a sociopath in the most fundamental meaning of the word.

Donald Trump needs schools to open because he desperately requires the illusion of normalcy: a sweet-smelling Autumn veneer of ordinary to try and cover up the foul stench of death that the previous six months his recklessness, vanity, and hostility to Science have yielded.

If he can get some heartwarming footage of kids heading back to school, Trump hopes he can saturation-bomb social media before the election, and somehow make people forget that in February he called the virus a “Democratic hoax,” or said that it would be down to zero cases soon after, or that pushed all Summer against masks, or that he held a rally in the highest crest of the first wave, or that he allowed so many people to die without a tweet of compassion for their families.

This President, ever the divider, wants to suggest that those of us opposing him don’t want our kids in school, which is an asinine assertion. Most of us need to be out of the house working or work from home, and having our children at home is both a logistical and financial hardship. Of course, we want them to be in physical community with their peers and to have in-person education and to feel the joys of normal again.

We just want them not to die, more than these things. 

This Administration has proven life is of no value to them. They have shown themselves willing to make elderly and sick people the acceptable collateral damage of prematurely jumpstarting the economy. Now, they’re willing to sacrifice our children on the shoddy altar of Capitalism and of Trump’s besieged reelection.

Our children (Republican, Democrat, or Independent) are worth far more than that.

They are not pawns or symbols or MAGA propaganda B-roll fodder, and they deserve better than this Administration populated by soulless ghouls who claim to be pro-life and yet have shown nothing but contempt for it: whether old or sick or foreign or black or female—or young lives.

And it isn’t just about politicians. We can’t even get MAGA adults to value wearing masks and distance and wash their hands. Tell me how we’re going to get millions of middle and and high school students raised with the same values, to do these things in the most compressed and socially-pressured environment? How can we expect students to honor the needs of others and the many health requirements that will need to be in place, when all they hear at home is that this virus is an overblown hoax and that masks are a form of oppression? 

The President can threaten and posture and throw every insolent social media tantrum he wants to, and he will find the decent parents of this nation and those who love children, his more-than-worthy adversaries.

Republicans have no plan to keep Americans safe, and until they do good people will not endanger their kids or their teachers or their families—no matter how much Donald Trump needs us to for his political survival.

Far better his presidency dies than our children.

 

 

Stop Saying Joe Biden Is Ahead. He Isn’t.

Some people haven’t learned anything in four years.

One of the most disconcerting trends I see on social media right now, is a continual dissemination of polls, statistics, and trends supposedly showing Joe Biden building an expansive lead over Donald Trump. They’re usually proffered by progressives and liberals and often come with a strident sense of presumptive victory in November—and I get a sickening déjà vu whenever they show up in my newsfeed.

We’ve already seen this movie four years ago and it doesn’t end well.

All the way up until Election Day of 2016, Hillary Clinton’s victory was a statistical slam dunk. Her losing was a near mathematical impossibility—and yet, here we are.

The numbers weren’t just irrelevant, they were likely injurious.

This November holds the promise of a different outcome, due to one critical factor: the desperation of decent people.

Aside from Trump’s staggering ineptitude, unprecedented incompetence, and Olympic-level inhumanity (all of which may finally be incrementally chipping away at the more reasonable of those who voted for him four years ago), the one weapon we might have this time in our favor is urgency.

Many who slept on the last election, believing it a foregone conclusion—are now alive and awake and engaged because they understand the gravity of the moment for our nation and for the world, because they believe their vote is critical in avoiding a hopeless slide into fascism, because they have enlisted in an uphill battle in order to somehow bend the arc of the universe toward justice.

Which is why perpetuating a narrative of Biden’s supposed statistical lead is so problematic: it threatens to lull people back to sleep at a time when we need every conscious and lucid soul fully present. The last thing we can afford is an emotional sedative giving people an incentive to ease up or check out or fast forward to a victorious day that may never come.

These Republicans’ criminality means that we are always far behind.

Voter suppression, gerrymandering, pushback against mail-in and absentee voting, the elimination of polling sites, and Russian cyber-shenanigans—combined with the understandable embarrassment of people who will vote for Trump but never admit it in a poll—all remove any possibility of a level playing field. 

This means that we need numbers great enough to transcend their creative and prolific malfeasance, and the more confident good but normally disengaged people become that their voices aren’t required, the more likely they are to once again silence themselves.

This is to say nothing of purity progressives who plan to opt out, vote third party, vote in protest, or write-in a candidate, because the primary has left them with chips so firmly embedded in their shoulders, that they are unable to see the burning forest for the falling trees.

A woman I confronted on social media after defending her amplifying the poll numbers, admitted that, “Yes, it will breed complacency in some, but we need the encouragement.”

No, we don’t.

We need to fight like hell.
We need the some who will grow complacent if given a reason, not to do so.
We need those who were bystanders and conscientious objectors and silent voices in 2016, to feel a sense of desperation so that they find a way to get themselves registered and counted and participating, in what may be the final war for our Republic.

Joe Biden is the only human being standing between America and a mad despot right now and his victory isn’t close to a foregone conclusion—in fact, it’s highly improbable.

Donald Trump is going to defeat Joe Biden if we don’t operate as if every vote is essential, as if we’re trailing far behind, as if we personally hold the destiny of democracy in our hands behind the curtain on November 3rd. He is going to defeat Biden if we find ourselves relaxing or letting up or sedating ourselves enough that we allow him to win.

Pay no attention to the polls.
Ignore the numbers.
Refuse to amplify overconfidence.

Work harder, give more, speak louder, and spend every bit of yourself to make sure that the disheartened and grieving and angry all feel hopelessly compelled to use their voices and their votes in one collective stand.

If we do that, there will be plenty of time to bask in the reality of an America we can dream of right now but cannot be assured of.

Donald Trump is going to defeat Joe Biden and Democracy and Liberty—but only if we allow him to.

White MAGA Friend, It Doesn’t Seem Like “All Lives Matter” to You

White friend, we need to talk.

Recently, people all around this nation began waking up to the pervasive inequities and racial disparities and police brutality here, and many for the first time unequivocally declared that Black Lives Matter.

You replied that All Lives Matter.

We tried to tell you that wasn’t really the point: that sometimes when groups are being systemically victimized and perpetually treated as less-than, that these lives need to be specifically affirmed by those with privilege until their value is as much as a given as anyone else’s. We tried to help you understand that equality that excludes some—simply isn’t equality.

You dug in your heels. You said that all lives matter. You called out White and Blue ones.

We tried to tell you that White lives and Blue lives have never not mattered and so this reply was unnecessary; that given the grievous injustices people of color have historically faced in this country, this was particularly destructive and particularly painful coming from you; the adding of insult to terrible injury.

You were fully entrenched in your fortified “all-lives” position.

Eventually we reached an impasse in the disagreement, and though I was skeptical, I walked away holding out the faintest of hopes that equity really was the desire of your heart, that every person did have the same inherent worth in your eyes—that all lives really did matter to you.

Ever since then, I’ve been watching you.

I’ve witnessed your steadfast refusal to wear a mask, despite the precipitous rise in sickness and death.

I’ve watched you unrepentantly going about your life without the slightest alterations that would protect your family and friends and neighbors and strangers from hardship.

I’ve seen you passive-aggressively posting Right Wing news articles with nonsensical pandemic conspiracy theories, captioning with a snarky, “just going to leave this here.”

I’ve watched you celebrating legislation allowing the LGBTQ community to be discriminated against—and lamenting Supreme Court rulings striking it down.

I’ve taken note of your deflation at the DACA decision, allowing hardworking people access to a dream you had handed to you with your birth certificate.

I’ve seen you defending nonsensical, panicked 911 calls on black people or gun-jittery, gun-wielding white people—suggesting some unrecorded threat or justifiable fear that makes it reasonable.

I’ve seen you jubilant at the prospect of millions of people losing healthcare: the sick and the already vulnerable, sexual assault victims, the mentally ill, women—simply because the name Obama is attached to such care.

I’ve noticed your conspicuous silence about families still separated at the border, about hundreds of people shut out of polling sites in Kentucky, bout legislative assaults on women’s autonomy over their own bodies, about the disproportionate effect of this pandemic on people of color, about a president’s supremacists tweets.

Honestly friend, it doesn’t seem that all lives really do matter to you.

It feels like your support for life is far more selective than that.

It seems like what matters to you—are straight, white, American, Republican, Christian lives; preferably those who live in your neighborhoods or attend your churches or seem the most like you. Everyone else seems like a threat or a problem or an afterthought.

All lives don’t seem to include immigrant lives, Latino lives, LGBTQ lives, Muslim lives, poor lives, Democrat lives, Atheist lives, women’s lives—and no, not black lives either.

And I want to be wrong about you. If I am, then it will be a joyous mistake. But I need you to know that this is how it appears from the outside, with only your words and your actions as a measurement.

This is what your life is saying, repeatedly, loudly, emphatically. It is the declaration of your politics and your religion and your social media profile and your dinner table diatribes. It sounds and feels like you have contempt and fear for a great deal of those who comprise our shared humanity. And as horrible as that would be, I can work with that kind of authentic bigotry that shows itself.

I can’t work with dishonesty.

I can’t work with someone who outwardly declares the value of all lives, while having so little regard for so many of them. I can’t work with someone gaslighting me or lying to themselves.

I want to understand you, I really do. I want to find a way forward that is life-affirming and redemptive—but I can’t do that until you put all your cards on the table and plainly speak your truth.

If all lives really matter you—it’s impossible to tell.