In the War on Democracy, Feelings Should Be Weapons
Can we talk about the truth in our hearts? Or is it impolite?
This has been on my mind lately and I’m just going to throw it out here: As writers, what is our role in the world today? As citizens of this country, what are our obligations to exposing and enforcing the truth? How much power do we have, really, and, knowing we have almost none, should we keep working at it or just give it up as a lost cause?
I’ve been thinking almost non-stop about this, and I suppose it’s because my feelings are uppermost in my mind these days. I leap from grief to fear to joy to outrage to gratitude to heartbreak to doubt, sometimes within the same hour.
At my request, my nurse practitioner gave me a prescription for something to calm down those racing thoughts. That was weeks ago. I haven’t taken it yet, mainly, I think, because I’m afraid it will make me stop feeling. And I need to feel. So chalk it up to that if this bothers you. But I have to get this out:
I’m at a place in my life where writing is my only form of activism. I’d love to be out there visibly rattling cages, shouting until I’m hoarse, carrying signs that get heavier by the minute, standing amongst my American clan, those people who feel the same as I do about life here in the United States. I can’t. This is it. This is what I do.
It says something that I’ve created a section here called “Politics and Advocacy”, where everything that’s not informational or fun gets put. It tells you I’m aware of your feelings and I don’t want to step on them when I get so outraged I can no longer hold it in. I’ve given you an out. Fair warning. You can opt out of anything political here in this place I’m proud to call a safe space. I want it to be that, but I don’t want to be dishonest while I’m trying to keep it that way. Safe.
What does ‘safe’ mean? My idea of a safe space is a place where all thoughts are accepted and recognized. Where nobody ever has to be afraid to speak up and speak out. Or be afraid to express their fears. Or be afraid to acknowledge their own successes. I want us to be here for all of us, but I don’t want us to be sheep. I don’t want us to pretend to agree just to be agreeing.
I don’t expect every writer reading this to agree with anything I’m saying, but this is my space. My own safe space. I’m here as a writer talking to other writers, but when a huge part of my writing involves controversial opinions, I can’t pretend otherwise on a site I’ve specifically created for writers. Our whole mission here is to be honest, and if I feel I have to compartmentalize my feelings about the state of my country, it makes me a fraud.
Does that make sense?
I don’t hide who I am or what I believe in. Take a look at my Twitter page and you’ll see. At the same time, I’m keenly aware that some of you still believe in that adage about politics and religion: If we want to be friends, we won’t talk about it.
Except we’re at a place right now where our democracy is in peril. No denying it. And no hiding from it. We’re in terrible trouble, and I believe all conscientious writers have a duty to acknowledge it. Saving this country from people who want to destroy its very fabric is an undercurrent in almost everything I write. Must I hide it in order to keep readers at a site called ‘Writer Everlasting’?
The title alone gives no clue to the owner’s values, political or otherwise, and most often I’m okay with that. But not now. Not when we’re in the midst of a political, economic, and humanitarian disaster made worst with each passing year by people who are deliberately trying to undermine and destroy the essential goodness we keep trying to promote.
My entire adult life has been as a committed liberal intent on saving us, one and all. That’s not hyperbole or bragging. It’s my goddamned cross to bear. I chose it, and it’s lifelong now. It’s who I am, even when I’m here.
I haven’t seen an exodus yet, and I’m truly grateful to all of you who subscribe, paid or free. In fact, I’m gaining new subscribers with every post, and I thank you for that. I just wanted to get this out there because the midterms are approaching and I’m beginning to panic. I do this every election cycle, for good reason. My side doesn’t win often enough, even when the other side’s choices are appalling. We’re not getting the job done. The dangers are out there and they’re increasing, and if we don’t win this time there’s a real chance it’ll be too late.
But don’t feel you have to indulge me. If, after reading this, you feel this is no longer for you, I’ll send you on your way with no hard feelings. (Always about the feelings…) But if you see the problems as acutely as I do, remember that this is a safe space. We’re writers and we’re living in strange and dangerous times. Are you writing about them? Are you hesitating about writing about them? Can you go on with your writing without thinking about it, or injecting it, even subconsciously, into your work?
How does the current state of affairs affect your writing? Or does it? I’m here and so are you. Let’s talk. (But if any of you reading this see this as permission to talk shit, think again. Not here. Not now. You’ll be gone.)
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