One of Vermont’s biggest strengths, in my view, is that it’s a place of tradition and a place of change: from legendary apple pies to snappy hard cider. A place with morals that allow for an expanse on the definition: Christian ministers perform same-sex marriage here. A state with an elected Republican Governor, Democratic Senators and Independents sprinkled throughout. People vote for people here, not party. People listen to debates or town hall meetings or their neighbors to get a full picture of the candidates. Political advertisements are a rarity, because Vermonters aren’t dazzled by sound bites. Maybe you feel the same about your community?
Remember the last time you said something, had it taken as far from your intended meaning as possible, succeeded in horrifying and alienating your audience, and was subsequently shamed and humiliated? In a very public forum? Well, if you have, you never forgot it, right? My shinning moment of misspeaking is now seared into my infernal list of wrongs. As much as I wanted to justify my comment, to explain my choice of words, it was for naught. Deaf ears. And I get it. You screw up, you get what you get. For the subsequent hours, I felt like a politician whose latest sound bite got twisted in the hands of the opposing but very savvy wordsmith into a half truth. Ruha Benjamin, the Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, said at a recent conference, sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will stay with you for a lifetime. I can attest to that truth. Even your own.
Perhaps it is the sea of fake news we find ourselves drowning in, or perhaps the spew of lies that click so easily off Trump’s digits, whatever the reason, I am drawn more and more to reading the “confessional poets” of yesteryear. Those original ones, who cared little for the moniker but much for “focusing on extreme moments of individual experience, the psyche, and personal trauma, including previously and occasionally still taboo matters” (Confessional poetry). Plath, Lowell, Sexton. They broke repression and oppression. Wove the atrocities of the Nazis into autobiographical poetry. Created verse from what we denied, with the stuff left under the rug. As their ashtrays overflowed and they pounded typewriter keys, their truth loosened onto the page and heralded a revolution of honesty.
We need those crazy fragile ones back on the center shelf. Enough with fiction for a while. Enough with thinking it isn’t the obscene power of the AR-15 that is slaughtering us. Enough with thinking that Trump isn’t motivated solely to further fatten his paunch. Enough with thinking these moral right-wingers have morals, or at least the same ones that you and I share. You know, like caring that babies are murdered at school or church or anywhere a deranged angry white man with an assault weapon cuts them down. If you still read Facebook “news” with conviction or scroll down your Twitter feed believing those 140 or now 280 characters, then wake up, you are being made the fool.
Hate breeds hate, right? Remember that one from kindergarten? We have been lead into a labyrinth of falsehoods from the naked emperor to those scurry to do his bidding. Time to taste the bitter pill. Face the hard facts. We have violated our selves. Our women. Our poor. Our neighbors. Our small towns and big cities. Our planet. Continue reading
Headlines from coast to coast state the current crisis in our leadership better than I could…of course you might want to dig a bit and read past the headlines, but if you’re pressed for time, these statements might be all you need to gauge the American opinion of who exactly is at our helm.