Caveat: Let me admit from the outset that I know this is privilege talking. I absolutely get it, and I know that it is easy for me to say “I get it” and then to ask people to do some things that they just might not be able to do because their existences don’t operate like that; I fully understand that reality and if you fall into this category I hope that there comes some set of circumstances in which what I am calling for–or something like it–can happen.
So we’ve got a dude about to occupy the Oval Office who thinks he’s too smart for daily briefings. Like a toddler who wants Mom to wake him up right before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, he asks for updates “if anything changes.” His spokeswoman says that intelligence should not interfere with politics when queried about the 17 US intelligence agencies reporting that Russia interfered with November’s election. The proposed cabinet and extended Administration looks like a meeting of super-villains who make Dr. Evil look like a Machiavellian genius. We have seen 1984‘s doublespeak go from a wild charged lobbed from the fringes to being at the center of politics, so much so that there are serious discussions about whether we are in a “post-truth” era, as though facts need our assent to be facts. GLBTQ+ persons are frightened. People of color are frightened. Women are frightened. Muslims are frightened. Immigrants both legal and otherwise are frightened.
Not all, of course, and those who are not are used as examples for why the masses are “overreacting” or “are not giving the PEOTUS a chance.” To that I say, “I once took a pill that I didn’t know what it was and that experience was pretty much all I needed to never take an unknown pill again. I am not taking this election’s pill. I’m not. Because I know what it is even if you tell me I don’t. Bad pill make Aaron feel bad.”
Plus we got all the shit going on in our actual lives, right?
And it is too much. Already around me I see tired, drawn eyes. I see people feeling jumpy. I see schedules filled with vigils and meetings and actions. I get lots of phone calls and messages about people wanting me to speak here or to join a cause there, and I want to but I still have this dissertation to write, these classes to teach, this church to serve, this nonprofit to launch. And y’all got lists, too. But we’re getting tired, aren’t we?
My exhaustion is nothing compared to that of others I know; that’s about all I want to say about that, because I’m tired of the comparisons except to say that I ain’t tellin’ you anything you don’t already know and weren’t already knowing. Some people I know just don’t get to take a moment to just lay their burden down. They are isolated; they are surrounded by people who don’t get it, or who aren’t willing to make an effort to get it enough that at least some of the burden can be laid down. That’s why those of us who are able should really try to reach out to those who are the most vulnerable and make ourselves available for laughter.
I mean it. Each day tell a joke. Make a fart noise in the middle of a meeting. Get into a strange elevator and say, “I bet you’re wondering why I have called you all here today.” Pay attention to see if someone gets the same cup of coffee each day, and maybe buy it for them. Send a silly card. Invite people to your car during lunch hour so you can go for a quick drive and do some karaoke. I dunno, it’s your moment, go wild. But let yourself be silly. Be like Harry and Hermione and dance even as Voldemort is getting closer to killing you.
Because if we don’t we’re not going to make it. If we allow joy to be a casualty, then what are we really fighting for? And I know that sounds simplistic and like a pollyanna. Maybe it is, but I don’t think so. As Winston Churchill said in the midst of the London Blitz, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
Let’s give each other joy, a little bit each day until we no longer have to ration it out.