Friday, November 4, 2016

Fear, grief and elections

I want to write about something else. I want to write about anything else, but I can't. The presidential election is next week and I am having trouble thinking about unrelated things.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time then you likely have a good sense of my political leanings. I expect you and I have some similar feelings regardless of who we each are voting for. We're hopeful. We are afraid of the consequences if our opponent wins. If you lost someone you love you likely have thought something like Well, at least they don't have to see this, then gulping back tears and horror that you thought such a thing.

I never thought I would find a political season so triggering, but I am. I am actively afraid of what happens if my candidate loses and the fear makes me yearn for the safety of living with my partner. I find myself, for the first time, feeling unsafe because I live alone.

I think about the conversations Kevin and I would be having, the fears we each would name and those we would conceal to protect the other. I think about how he and I had our particular lenses through which we view politics - he was a black man and a Christian, I am a white woman and Jewish with some other leanings. We each focused on different issues but we generally selected the same candidates. I'm sure we would have this year.

I think about how he and I would comfort each other when we became afraid, saying No matter what happens we will make it through together. I suppose we did make it through together, though with very different destinations.

I think about my father and the loathing he expressed for one of the candidates, long before they ever sought political office. Frankly, when I think I'm so glad he doesn't have to see this I'm thinking mostly of my father. This election alone would have been enough to break his heart.

Political grief hides itself in legislation and decisions made for the wrong reasons, as punishment or payback. I pray our elected officials remember that they are representing all of us, that they remember loss and grief need not lead to retribution. I am experiencing political grief because I am stunned that so many Americans are supporting something I know in my bones is not kind, is not honest, is not what is best about America. I am grieving my belief that we were better than this.

There are so many things I want to write here, about fear and grief and hope. Instead I will say this.

I will try to remember that everyone is voting for their own reasons, driven by hope or fear or frustration. While I may not agree, those reasons are as valid (or invalid) as mine.
I will try to remember that feeling a grain of relief that Kevin and my father aren’t here to see this madness isn’t the same as being glad they are dead.
I will pray we all remember to be kind to each other after the election as some of us will mourn a different kind of loss, that of possibility. 

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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