Not a Temper Tantrum

 

Yesterday, I saw that a relative of mine had posted this just as I was putting my photos of the Madison rally up. I was full of love and confidence and strength, so seeing this was like a punch in the gut. So I wrote this person a letter. 

I saw your post today when I got back from the Madison march and it was like a punch to the gut. Because you’re family, and because I think you are both people who believe in love and kindness and charity, I really want to explain, if I can, what this was all about.

To me, yesterday was such a thing of beauty, and it makes me sad that you live in such a way that you can’t see it or feel it. It was like the very best church, the best picnic, the best party, all rolled into one.

I’m not sure I can ever relate how scary it’s been if you don’t feel that too. But for us, Trump is at best a bully, the kind you might have had to deal with yourselves in school and the kind you’d never want your kids to have to deal with. The stuff he’s said, the way he made fun of that reporter: I think it brought a lot of us back to a person or a time in our lives when we were made to feel afraid for being who we were. Maybe we knew what other people were making fun of. Maybe we didn’t even understand why we were being targeted. But we know the feeling of being afraid and alone in the face of a violent, mean bully, and we know how it feels to shake while you try to stand up for yourself.

And yesterday was a day when all of our friends showed up in that abandoned hallway where we’d been cornered, a day when that one kind teacher you could count on sent the bully away.

We know he’s not going anywhere. We know the bully is in charge now. We know a lot of us are going to get hurt, feel scared, and have our lunch money stolen.

In a sense, that’s all it was: just a brief pause to remind ourselves that eventually, enough of the kids who have been bullied do band together and punch back.

I’m glad if you’ve never needed that.

I’m glad for you if you’ve never experienced that.

I’m glad if it’s something none of your kids has ever faced.

I’m not going to get into the politics but I am going to say one thing: in everything I’ve been reading it seems obvious that we are all getting different information, that fake news sources are out there confirming the most extreme of what we all believe. But my request is this: don’t just laugh at us. Don’t just mock our fear and our anger. Find out what it is. Find out why we’re scared, who stands to lose rights, who is worried about their health insurance, whose marriage may be at risk, whose bodies, whose choices. We are not scared of nothing: queer folks, black folks, disabled folks, trans folks, immigrants – we face fear all the time. This is scarier than usual.

And while I’m sure, at some basic level, the differences between us are about the differences in politics – Republicans believe charity should be a private affair, and Dems feel that a government’s job is to provide care for the least able of us – I’m not sure I understand why or how anyone could laugh at a basic American right to protest, to gather, to remind ourselves that “we the people” doesn’t mean only those of us who can work or marry or bear children, doesn’t mean only the white, the straight, and the able-bodied, but all of us.

This is written in kindness, and with a hope that I might slow down your frustration and mockery of what yesterday was. I wish you could have been there. I wish you could have felt the love and the trust and the incredible feeling of community. It was amazing.

Don’t be the dwarves in The Last Battle. Come join the rest of us in Narnia. Onwards and Upwards.

Love, me

Helen Boyd

is the author of My Husband Betty and She's Not the Man I Married.

2 Comments

  1. As bad as Trump maybe or will be, think of the alternative if he’s impeached or strokes out. Pence. We’ll have a domionist in the white house. File that under never say it can’t get worse. Fight the good fight, yes. Change the congress and the senate and nullify anyone in the white house, for sure, but be careful what you ask for.

  2. Nicely and thoughtfully written, Helen, as always. Here’s the funny thing. When I first saw the post, I took the top line as supporting our march yesterday. We were marching in defense of our human rights. I took the photo and the second comment to be referring to Trump (and Spicer) after angrily attacking the press because it did not falsely report that his inauguration had the highest attendance in history. Any chance your relative meant it the way I read it?? (I don’t know your relative and you do know them, so you would have more insight than I would.)

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