First, let’s all take a few deep breaths and, on the exhale, repeat a mantra together.
Ready? Okay. Breathe in, and on the exhale…. whaaaaaaaat the fuck? Once more: breathe in, and again…. WHAAAAAAT the FUUUUUUCK? And once more… in, and then out with a profound WHAT. THE. FUCK?
Before I begin, I’d like to recap the major progressive moves toward equality in our nation’s history: about 150 years ago, America fought a war with itself to ultimately decide if black people were property or not. Ethics won. Almost 100 years ago, America grappled with the question of whether women should be allowed to have a voice in politics. Ethics, again, won. Half a century ago, a contentious decade helped America decide whether legally sanctioned segregation was equitable; again, ethics prevailed. In the last few years, America has been faced with a series of choices regarding the treatment of its poor: ethics generally prevailed there as well. And just last year, the Supreme Court had to decide how to legally define marriage. Ethics, once more, championed in that debate.
Taking history into account, it seems as if we’ve been traveling along what Martin Luther King, JR described as the long arc of the moral universe and that we had perhaps reached, or were near reaching, the eventual justice King once described. The mountaintop. The dream, realized, and prosperity abounding.
Yet America just elected an unqualified, ignorant, racist, predator as its Commander in Chief. And just like that, 150 years of painful, bloody, complex and contentious social progress has been at least put into question, and at worst – and more likely – compromised entirely.
So I repeat: What the fuck?
Will the fabric of American society unravel with the results of this election? No, because it began unraveling over a year ago when this absurd farce of an election began to truly take shape. It is a mess of tangled threads now, and there is much sorting to be done. Who will do it, and will it be done well? That remains to be seen, but the answer to the former questions begets the answer to the latter and right now the arc does not seem to point to any semblance of justice because the people now in charge are “megalomaniacal demagogues,” as one of my AP English students astutely phrased it.
When I climbed into bed last night, before the results had been officially called but with the inevitable result becoming ever clearer as the AP reported on each states’ closing polls, I wanted to cry, or scream, or disparage the ignorance and fear that led us to where we currently are. I couldn’t, though. All I could do was repeat my mantra, my prayer, my meditative expletive phrase over and over and over to my boyfriend, who lay beside me equally confused, distraught, and heartbroken: What the fuck?
I know that I need to be compassionate, patient, and vigilant. We all do. But I do not know how to do that right now. I do not know how to be anything aside from angry, afraid, and confused. I do not know anything today, and I’m scared of what I’ll know as we move into the next four years of tomorrows.