Feeling Weary about US Politics by Carol P. Christ

Carol by Honegger cropped

Like many of you, I was anxious and angry during most of the Trump administration years. I watched MSNBC avidly, hoping against hope that a) he could be stopped or b) he would be impeached. Now that he is gone, it would be nice to be able to take a “breather” (I wasn’t breathing regularly during the Trump years), a break from thinking about US politics all the time, but sadly, the political situation in the United States continues to require attention.

President Biden has pleasantly surprised me with his progressive domestic agenda and his decision to remove troops from the heretofore endless war in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, he has proposed an increase in the military budget. Dwight David Eisenhower, who warned of the increasing power of “the military-industrial complex” as he left office, must be turning over in his grave.

Most worrying of all is the fact that so many Americans voted for Donald Trump, believe that the election was stolen from him, and support white supremacy, while the Republican party refuses to deviate from the Trumpian worldview.

As if it could not be any worse, police killings of innocent black men by white officers and mass killings by young white men with easy access to automatic weapons are proliferating. Moreover, Republican-inspired voting restriction legislation is once again threatening the foundations of our democracy.

Police violence in black communities was recognized in the 1960s and 1970s. Attempts, which were stymied by police unions, were made to end it then. From 1994 to 2004 a ban on the manufacture or sale of assault weapons was the law of the land in the United States. The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 only to be vitiated by the Supreme Court in 2013. How long will we have to go on fighting for basic rights to life and liberty for all Americans?

I am sick and tired of it all. And to tell you the truth, I am sick and tired of having to think about all of these things all of the time. Can’t I take a break? Well yes, I have taken a bit of a break insofar as I have failed to submit my blogs regularly in the past months. But I have not been able to take a break from thinking.

I came of age in the 60s. While I was raised in a Republican family, I changed my political affiliation the summer after I graduated from college when I identified not as a Democrat, but as a member of the New Left. I became deeply committed to ending racism, poverty, and war. By 1969, I was also working to end sexism and patriarchy. I did not believe that we would still be fighting the same battles fifty years later.

These days I have been asking myself: what is wrong with white people? Why do white police officers continue to kill? Why do white people in great numbers support Trump’s racism? And what is wrong with young white men who take out their anger and insecurity by killing?

A recent study shows that the white people who took part in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 were mainly middle and upper middle class—not disempowered poor or working-class white males as we are often told by the media. The people who stormed the Capitol and the people who supported them were not exclusively male. What motivates them? The authors of the study suggested that white people who are “sitting pretty” at the moment are motivated by the fear that as the United States becomes more diverse, white people will lose out. (Apparently, these white people do not believe that it could be possible for all Americans to live together in peace and prosperity.)

Where do we start? How about with a few facts? If corporations and wealthy individuals were taxed at the rates of fifty years ago (when America was supposedly “great”), it would be possible to raise the living standard of the poor and nearly poor—including white people—without taking anything away from those in the middle classes. We tried this in the 60s with the Great Society programs, and they were successful for the most part. Unfortunately, most of these programs were dismantled not only under Reagan, and but also under Clinton. As for facts, the very people who need to know them dismiss facts that could alter their worldview as “fake.”

We need to think seriously about alternatives to war. Besides being harmful to people and all living things, war costs a lot of money. The size of the military budget is one of the greatest impediments to domestic progress. “Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.” These are not the words of Joe Biden, and they would not readily fall off the lips on any Democratic legislator except California Congresswoman Barbara Lee. They are the words of Eisenhower. The fact that not only Republicans but also most Democrats have failed to heed the words of Eisenhower should disturb us all.

Finally, I will mention empathy. Last Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy included a compelling depiction of the fear Maggie and her new boyfriend Winston felt when he was pulled over by a white male police officer for a minor traffic infraction that he was not even aware of (his bicycle was partially obscuring his car’s license plate number). He was on the phone with Maggie at the time. She asked him to leave the phone open in case the police treated him harshly. The officer directed Winston to turn off the phone. At that point Maggie panicked and Winston knew that if anything bad were to happen, there would be no record of it. Winston was in the process of moving across the country to be with Maggie. When next we see him, his belongings are strewn across the ground behind his car after the police searched for drugs or weapons, and he is so upset he can barely speak. We know, as he and Maggie know, that he could have been killed, and is lucky to have escaped with his life.

Hey white people, isn’t there something wrong with this picture? Are you able to empathize with Winston? Or only with the white policeman? I empathize with Winston. I do not think any human being should be made to fear for his or her life simply because of his or her race. But I know that many white people do not feel as I do. This makes me weary too. Or should I say, it makes me want to cry.

I have worked to create a more just world all of my life. I have hoped we would be closer to achieving it by now. The fact that we have not leaves me feeling tired, dispirited, and sad.

 

Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator who lives in Heraklion, Crete. Carol’s recent book is Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.

Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions



Categories: Abuse of Power, Activism, Community, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, General

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21 replies

  1. It is so sad Carol, as you say … it does make us sick. We must take heart for all the goodness that is still in the world, even if it does not make the news. We all do know good people. I can’t listen to the news anymore. I listen to music and I lie on the ground looking at the sky when I can for long periods. I too am tired and older, with not enough energy – I just have to let it go to younger ones to bring forth the change. May they prevail. There is also the climate change … She will prevail. Elisabet Sahtouris has said that we live in the Hot Age, which “may well be the evolutionary driver pushing us into co-operation”. She says: “there will simply not be enough time and resources for both war and cooperative survival: we will be forced to choose.”

    may we take heart and encourage each other.
    Take care

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I think the malaise that I am experiencing comes from having lived my life believing that we could make a difference and discovering that we have changed little, and that in many instances -like with respect to war, racism, violence and white supremacy things are much much worse. The climate is in crisis and few seem to notice… I could go on here. Part of aging is losing energy – at least for me – and today I too am too tired to persevere in the ways that I did before. I write many nature columns always with the same message – that we are losing what matters – and it makes no difference…It is time to put the future into the young people’s hands I think…Making that transition is so hard – there is a loss of meaning that I am experiencing at this time… and ennui…

    Liked by 5 people

    • “I think the malaise that I am experiencing comes from having lived my life believing that we could make a difference and discovering that we have changed little, and that in many instances -like with respect to war, racism, violence and white supremacy things are much much worse.”

      Sara, you have nailed it here. That’s what I used to think, that we could make a difference, and now we discover in our old age that things have not only changed, they’ve gone backward. It’s like the old Russian proverb, “After the wolf comes the bear.” That means no matter how bad things are now, they’re only going to get worse.

      I’m also experiencing a loss of energy, a certain amount of despair as I lose hope, and constant bewilderment as to what to do next. I fear for my grandchildren.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. At the risk of alienating many of you, i’m going to briefly say, get some perspective. Y’all thought everything would change in *your* lifetime, and now you want to give up? Look at the lives of all the oppressed peoples past and present, renowned activists and faceless billions, all skin colors but mostly darker than white. Look deeply. Where have they drawn their fortitude, long vision, decency in the face of constant injustice?

    It’s time to learn from those who were born in unfortunate times and places, follow their examples and add the power of our natal privileges to the world community. In our mature years we are of course tired, but we also have a relative freedom of time, and possibly money, to further the work of the more energetic. How disheartening for them that the elders would turn their backs and give up.

    PS., Many things are changing all at once, not the least being our ability to be aware of the incessant horrors near and far, but also new ways to face and to sidestep entrenched power are manifesting everywhere.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Carol, your thoughts and feelings of weariness echo my own many days. Why are we still fighting the same battles we did a half-century ago and will things ever change? To answer one of your questions – yes, I think it is not only ok, but essential that we all take breaks, for as long as we need. They are essential not only for our own well being but for being able to reflect, as you do in your post. We can also adjust what we do to what feels right at this time. I’ve started working with smaller, local organizations which, I’ve noticed, tend to be organized by and participated in by older people. Also, I think you demonstrate in your historical mentions in your post an important role elders can play – bringing a long-term perspective and sense of continuity. A couple of years ago the theme of the Boston Pride Parade was honoring elders and I remember getting the sense that the younger people were inspired by seeing people who had been at work for 50 years and were still going. Will things ever really change for the better? I don’t know. I do know that the world I was born into in the late 50s was much worse for women and others than it is now, so maybe there is some hope.

    Liked by 4 people

    • “I do know that the world I was born into in the late 50s was much worse for women and others than it is now, so maybe there is some hope.”

      Yes, indisputably, Carolyn! When I was 13 and anxiously asking the other girls , “Is there anything on the back of my skirt?” when I was having my sacred moontime, I never dreamed that one day menstrual products would be openly discussed in TV commercials—not to mention the interracial couples and children that are now blessedly shown. TV is becoming more reflective of real life.

      When was the last time you saw a commercial for dishwashing soap, comparing the hands of a mother and a grown-up daughter?

      In my marriage (53 years and counting), my husband has always done the dishes. After all, he pointed out early on, I do the cooking. The only time I’ve done the dishes is when he has been ill. We both like it this way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am no longer sure that it is better for women today… rape/psychological/physical abuse etc is on a chilling rise and “BARBIE rules when it comes to how women are supposed to look. We even had one as “first lady” from 2016 – 20.

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  6. Carol, I’m with ya. I was brought up Calvinist and Republican in Ferguson, MO. My family lived just a mile and a half, in fact, from where Michael Brown was killed by a white cop in 2014. (There weren’t any black people in the area when I was a kid.) I also left the old ways while I was in college. And now I look around and watch TV news and read stuff online and wonder what’s going on in a country that was pretty much a democracy until people voted for Trump. So sad. Well, my post coming up in May deals with what I think should be done with the people who still think Biden stole the election. I think Biden is doing as well as he can, considering what he’s facing in the other two branches of the government.

    I hope you’re feeling good and that you’re all nice and healed and healthy. Bright blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. These days it feels like we’re juggling deck-chairs on the Titanic. I was very active politically in the 80’s and the only difference between then and now is a few of the chairs have been moved. The sinking ship is still patriarchy.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I feel this weariness, too, though I am bit younger (gen x). My late teens children and their friends give me some hope.

    Like

  9. Trump opened a wound that is constantly being picked open. The US is a sinking ship led by men and the “old boy network”. What is happening in my country is so sad.
    I recently completed a painting depicting the Native North American planting practice called The Three Sisters. Corn, beans and squash are planted together because they help each other in the growth process and all yield higher crops than if planted separately. The painting is a metaphor as it not only represents the creative power of women, but also living together in harmony with diversity, helping each grow and prosper individually and as collective whole. The book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer has written a chapter on the The Three Sisters and was my inspiration for the painting.
    Twenty two years ago, my husband and I moved to Costa Rica for non-political reasons. Costa Rica abolished the army in 1948 and used that money to build infrastructure in the country. I am not aware of police brutality and shootings in schools or businesses.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This post is so full of feeling and empathy for the world and those without justice. This is your deep source. To feel and to care deeply is the life force within you, Carol.

    I have cried and I cry often these days.

    The sun shines. New buds grow with promise of abundance. Forests, oceans, plains, animals, and humans continue to thrive. Even now in this moment full of life, there are thousands of unnecessary deaths every month – mass die offs of fish, birds, and other wildlife from our pollution and destruction of nature. There have been 3 million human deaths from covid-19 in the last year.

    To live in the moment, for me, is to be aware of all the feelings inside of me that arise from the tragic moment in history that we are a part of. I cannot help but weep. To live is to feel. Those who do not and/or can not feel it are in some sense not alive.

    “The size of the military budget is one of the greatest impediments to domestic progress.” Nuclear bombs continue to be built. US congress balks at domestic spending while children go hungry. Who are these people that promote systemic violence and injustice? Is the human race divided into those who feel and those who are monsters? Will it require a great sacrifice to stop the harm that our species enacts daily? If the system is too entrenched, should it be dismantled?

    In her comment, Laurie Goodhart makes the point that many have come before us only to endure and stand tall in the face of ongoing injustice. Therefore, who are we to abandon the struggle because we haven’t won in a single lifetime?

    Martin Niemöller’s Poem:

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist

    Then they came for the Socialists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist

    Then they came for the trade unionists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a trade unionist

    Then they came for the Jews
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Jew

    Then they came for me
    And there was no one left
    To speak out for me

    Though you and I have stood against injustices of all types, we are in the minority. The world at large, the system, the masses of self centered individuals – have promoted and perpetrated so much injustice. It was inevitable that it would come for us too. But what can we do?

    Don’t lay down and give up.

    Certainly it is not our task alone. There are billions on the planet. There are younger people full of energy and ability.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hope and despair. Despair and hope. There’s plenty of reasons for both. “I am sick and tired of it all,” Carol writes. Those sentiments are echoed around me, by me, and within me. But, she also writes that, “Feeling weary is not a decision to give up.” That’s true for many, too.

    Sometimes, I feel like I’m on the hope/despair roller coaster, but—and I’m not sure why—I remain mostly hopeful.

    I fully acknowledge that some people want to move us backwards in voting rights, human rights, etc., etc. (I could go on and on, but I won’t.)

    It will continue be a struggle for some voices to be heard and paid attention to. Even so, many of us are determined and unwilling to be marginalized and disempowered just because of color, gender, or economic capabilities.

    We all must continue to stand strong, resist violence, take helpful breaks, honor our despair, have good friends, and speak out whenever we see or hear injustices. Perseverance is paying off—slowly but surely.

    To change Wendell Barry’s quote slightly, “Be [hopeful] though you have considered all the facts.”

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I, too, came of age in the 1950s. We did face many sexist challenges as we grew from girls into women. However, we did not face the denial of sex as a biological reality. Today, girls and young women live in a pornographic-dominated environment. For girls, the pressure to be sexual starts very early. Young lesbians are encouraged to mutilate their bodies to become a “more authentic self”.

    The Women’s Human Rights Campaign, USA highlights the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights and its principles. I’ve signed the Declaration and applaud the organization for all the efforts to fight the continued sexism we experience daily as females whether young or old. New forms of woman-hating emerge.

    Yes, I get frustrated, tired and afraid, but each day gives us a chance to do something to enhance life on the planet for other critters, the environment, and people.

    Here is one place to start, sign the declaration, https://www.womensdeclaration.com/en/ which reaffirms the sex-based rights of women which are set out in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979 (CEDAW).

    Short summary of the Declaration:

    We reaffirm motherhood as an exclusively female status.
    We reaffirm women’s rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, and political participation.
    We reaffirm women’s rights to fair play in sports.
    We reaffirm the need to end violence against women and girls, and to protect the rights of children.
    We oppose all forms of discrimination against women and girls that result from replacing “sex” with “gender identity” in law, policy, and social practice.

    Asking your friends, family, and children to sign the Declaration. Mother’s Day would be a good option for these discussions.

    As Carol has written, “Subversive language, however, must be constantly reinvented, because it is continually being co-opted by the powerful”. The attempt to co-opt femaleness is a challenge we could not have imagined fifty years ago when the grassroots women’s liberation movement ignited a generation of powerful women. We get tired (and sometimes lonely), but rarely do we give up. Blessed be, Paula Mariedaughter

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I do take the long view, but unfortunately that makes me even more weary than just the PTS from the past 5 years and the ongoing insanity as Carol outlines here. Though I realize that in many ways we humans have made progress – at least we no longer attend public executions and lynchings as a form of entertainment – it seems at times that “history” is one long steady stream of conquest, pillage, destruction and oppression and that “civilization” takes us further and further away for our true selves. Though there are many, many compassionate people we once again find ourselves in a time of great darkness. I think that the hearts of many has become so filled with fear, hatred and greed that Love has been crowded out.

    I too am on the “hope” and “despair” roller coaster. I too weep at the horrors all around and yet laugh with friends and family. I too am just so tired – some days it’s hard to think. It’s so great that we can share our feelings here as that helps us all to rise each morning with hope that we can create a better world for all.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Biden reinstating Iran nuclear deal doesn’t fill me with confidence. Nothing about this set up does.The most powerful man on earth has cognitive problems. Those jackals who managed to slip him into the Oval Office are now exacting their pound of flesh. I guess it’s my turn to be anxious and angry.

    Liked by 1 person

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