Can we talk about the truth in our hearts? Or is it impolite?
The reality of now flavors my writing in some regards even if it is not a specific goal. Information about what goes on in the world and my beliefs about these circumstances are embedded in my mind - they bubble up in my writing and my comments to other posts.
These are crazy times; for me, it's impossible not to think and write about them. But is it impolite? Probably.
I try to cultivate a safe place as well; safety from judgment or cancellation. Not safe from certain topics.
Bill Maher always says he wants to go back to a time when we didn't discuss religion or politics, but I wonder if that's a good idea. We got along better, but by avoiding these topics for so long, maybe we've underdeveloped our ability to accept differing points of view with grace. Our reluctance to discuss these topics may be one reason why we're in such a quandary. We might need to do the hard thing; we might need to think our way out of this, together.
Thank you for writing this. I haven't posted since July. It's not just because of politics. But I must admit, I'm right there with you on the sway my worry and emotional stress are causing. It's not the sway that is one party one day and another party the next. It's the sway of suffocating emotions that are titillating my nerves to such an extent that I'm feeling serious trauma.
I was a political science student at UC Berkeley during a time when UCLA was more radical. Berkeley was tame in the late 70s, early 80s. There was a little tiny field that was starting then that got me really energized. I felt it was my path. Political Psychology. However, the graduate program I wanted was at Yale, but the college and teacher I wanted was at Harvard. Once I experienced the terrifying but tantalizing concept of "freedom" this Sagittarian never went back to school. I study whatever I'm interested in, freely, on my own, without tests. Enough with authority that doesn't want to be there.
I'd been a student leader. I'd delegated before I knew what minimum wage was. I knew how to campaign and hated every minute of it. I was successful. Always the presidency. It wasn't like I was vice prez first, or secretary, or any other position prior. Always the presidency. As a young girl, I read about presidents. Recently seeing Ken Burn's new documentary U.S. and the Holocaust has traumatized me. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the holocaust. Not nearly enough obviously.
It surprised me when racism came front and center after Obama became president. I didn't think we had a racist problem. Oh, isolated bursts here and there, but not overall. What a wake-up call! My mom was a lifelong democrat. My dad was a republican who became a democrat because of Reagan.
I thought I would be the first woman president of the US. Then I interned on the hill in a program called Cal In The Capitol in the summer of 1981. I worked for an alcoholic congressman from Maryland. Within three weeks I realized in order to get anything done in DC one had to sell their soul. A Berkeley sister got to work for Dick Gregory that summer so I did see other slants than the office I worked in. But I realized then and there, I didn't want to sell my soul.
Now I feel responsible for what has happened. I was working on Political Psychology research on 3 Mile Island the summer I graduated. Looking in the Congressional Record I saw Jonathan Schell read pages from his book THE FATE OF THE EARTH. He was trying to convince the politicians, voted by the people of our country at the time, that nuclear winter was not survivable. I thought mankind would be wiped off the face of the earth before 2000. I was not going to bring a child into this mess.
I never saw this quagmire we are in as a futuristic possibility at the time. My favorite part of political psychology was psychobiography. As a leader, I really delved into what were my motivations for being a leader, and a politician. As a brilliant teacher on the ethics of power, Harold Laswell said, "All of us are born politicians. Most of us outgrow it."
I've outgrown it. When I saw the republicans who created the Lincoln Project I could feel my dad's earlier beliefs about politics coming to the fore. There is a responsible republican ideology and then there is what we are dealing with now, which is not responsible at all.
I could write for hours on this... but you really touched off the spark that is stymying my productivity. I didn't realize it because other health and friend issues have been easier and taking my time. Thank you for your bravery and sensitivity.
Thank you for writing this. We need honesty now more than ever. And, honestly, I have been using my writing to escape from the current fraught political environment. I try to do what I can when it comes to activism, but writing has been a sort of holy and safe space. Thanks again. I appreciate your posts.
I’ll say some things:
I know you from your political writing, and your unapologetic liberalism is one thing that attracted me to you.
I don’t believe it serves us well to ignore politics. The only reason not to talk about politics or religion is because we are incurious beings who wish not to have our worldviews threatened or wish not to threaten those of other incurious beings. If we can approach each other with curiosity and a desire to understand instead of a desire to change someone and/or a sense that ours is only the right answer, we can talk about politics or religion and still maintain our friendships. But that assumes everyone is curious like me, and unfortunately they’re not.
As a writer, my writing has transitioned from being mostly about myself to being about people who identify with me in some way, and my intended audience has expanded as the impact of what I have to say has increased. My novel that was about a woman wanting to know what was going on in her body during pregnancy has turned into a speculative commentary of personal autonomy and our obligations to society. It wasn’t conscious, just a natural consequence of expanding my worldview and looking outward and inward - being published does a book no good, after all, if it only appeals to the author.
It always feels really trivial to me to write about celebrity scandals and ultra rich crypto investors and made-up island romances when our world is collapsing around us. So I guess writers can write what they write - the less consequential it is to our time and place, the less likely I am to want to read it.
The idea that people can just ignore politics is ludicrous. Everything is political. Pretending to be apolitical is political too.
I try to be funny with my writing, but there's no way I could pretend current events don't influence how I think about the world. When I'm doing a satire piece it tends to be overtly political. But even if I'm writing something more generally humorous - like I did today about pro wrestling - it's impossible not to find parallels with our current economic and political landscape.
Bottom line: if people want to put their head in the sand, that's on them. Write on, Ramona.
My $.02: The beauty of voice is that it's yours. Anything else is inauthentic. Emote and opine as you wish! For every reader who leaves there is one who arrives. If your goal is to allow room for those with whom you disagree, someone whose fundamental truths are not in line with yours, your words will reflect that. Or not, as you choose. No right or wrong, just what is.
My mother lived to be 93. She was disappointed in me for leaning left. We couldn't have political discussions without one of us becoming annoyed with the other, but she continued to initiate the conversations all the same. I believe she wanted me to change my mind, and she hoped her comments would bring me around. As my parent, she saw it has her job to impress her ideals on me. Interestingly, though, she could talk with my older daughter without irritation. Something about the generational difference and the way my daughter spoke to her meant that they had real dialogue instead of arguments. They seldom agreed, but they were civil and, it seemed to me, open to hearing each others' opinions.
Yes, I write my feelings. I write (and read) about politics, and income disparity, and environmental decline, and race, and bodily autonomy and every other challenging topic. My essays aren't usually specifically about those things, but they're in there all the same because you I can't separate myself from them. I also bring them into face-to-face conversations, in an effort to teach myself how to listen for commonality. That's my voice.
I wonder if you'll find this as interesting as I did? https://bigthink.com/the-well/tribalism-humans-not-tribal/?
Keep doing what you're doing, Ramona. It's who you are, and lots of readers love you for it.
I'm an introvert and Enneagram 1w9. My safest space for being the most honest with myself and others is my writing. It's my advocacy too. My blog is my safe space. And I've learned that it isn't necessarily safe, when those who have more power than me have questioned my faith or patriotism because I write what I see and I'm as honest as I can be about it. But I'm here with you and I'm thankful for writers like you who encourage me to keep speaking out.
P.S. I've discovered that social media (although I love Twitter and it's where I've found "my" people) doesn't allow me to get my voice out there because those in my life who I desperately want to read my words have blocked me out. So I guess I'll just keep writing here and hope that others share what I have to say.