This week a student mentioned that we were on the brink of civil war. Not sure what the context was, since this snippet of conversation happened in the busiest of classroom moments. In a completely other class, on an entirely different day, another student mentioned that we would be embroiled in WWIII before the month was over. There is much weight on our youth these days. My students, like all the others clear across this country, regularly practice what to do if an armed and dangerous person comes into the school to gun them down. Their last three years were interrupted by a global pandemic that has in fact infected many of them, and for some, left lingering health problems. Fear resides at the core of their being. Anxiety is discussed between them with an air of universality. They are equally troubled by what lies ahead. About our sickened planet, our dismal response to gun violence, the absence of empathy for the refugees at our border, and for the robed ones dictating over women’s bodies. They want our flag to stand for them, the queer, BIPOC, trans, questioning and demanding generation. The whole of this revolving planet is on the brink of extinction, they fear.
January 6th will stand in our minds as a frightening spectacle of unbridled violence and anarchy against our democratic America. Like all infamous days in our cable-news-social-media-in-your-face culture, visceral horror flooded our feeds, our lives, our living rooms, and rippled into the political arena like a firestorm not giving one hoot who or what it destroyed. And we all watched. For hours. Days. Weeks. Months. We watched as that horror was debated and dissected; as all the wordage like insurrection, coup, riot, protest and sedition were argued between politicians as if words still mattered.
Like so many of these hard dates that now populate our collective history, December 14th 2012, September 11th 2001, April 4th 1968 and August 6th 1945, January 6th 2021 was a nightmare that still causes us to sweat; yet we remain stagnant. And worse still the Republican Senators and Representatives who by all accounts aided and abetted the criminals who desecrated our Capital are on the federal payroll, yes, still. And, even worser, the man who commanded the day, still perpetuates his lies to his mob. Should we really call him the former President? Can you even? Without any shame for America? I think demagogue might be a more apt title.
We are in the midst of significance. After the darkest winter this country has witnessed since WWII, there is a new hope floating in the air, springing from an empathy from our leadership. Say what you want about politics, but soon there will be money in needy pockets, vaccines available for everyone, and acts of caring from Washington the likes of which will buoy this tired America straight into a better world. Today I see a brighter horizon. Sure the road is still muddy and slick and filled with challenging ruts, but with lifted eyes we can find the fulfillment of sweet promises that will change everything.