I recently held my sobbing husband in my arms as he choked out these words, “I think he’s going to win.” It was the first time I’ve seen him so desperately somber, so utterly broken by this tyrannical climate in which we’ve been living…and dying.
My husband became a North American son on April 19, 2016. After taking the Oath of Allegiance, he held our newborn child in his arms and cried tears of joy, feeling that America had fully opened her arms and heart to him, while knowing he now bore the privilege, responsibility, and weight of United States citizenry.
Like others upon which citizenship was conferred that spring day, my husband was not a rapist or a murderer. He was not the bottom of the barrel of his native Brazil. On the contrary, he was like the millions who came before him–millions who believed the American Dream could be their dream. Millions who believed their time, talents, and enterprise could grow this nation and lead to their personal versions and visions of success.
Sadly, the joy that bookended that momentous day waned as Election Day grew near. And we, along with countless others, watched tearfully horrified as Donald Trump was announced the next President of The United States of America. Though, at that time, I could never have imagined the sinister depths to which he would sink or the brutal inhumanity he would both show and sow, I remembered Thomas Paine’s fateful words:
The American Crisis. by the author of Common Sense Thomas Paine “These are the times that try men’s souls: the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country…”. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/item/2005694599/.
“THESE are the times that try men’s souls.”
The last four years have been a struggle for so many. Inflammatory rhetoric and blatant abuses of power and privilege have punctuated our daily lives, while giving rise to the most hateful and baneful among us. All spectrums of relationship have been tried, tested, and, oftentimes, terminated, due to nonsensical belief in and adherence to the MAGA regime. People have taken to the streets in peaceful protest, only to be met with force instead of protection and apathy instead of empathy. Families have been separated at our border and children forced to live in barbaric conditions, incongruent with our moral and ethical principles as a country and people. Black and brown Americans have had life squeezed from their very lungs by those set apart to protect and serve. And while thousands died unnecessarily and alone (and continue to), the occupant of the Oval Office remains unmoved in heart or deed to be anything less than an apex offender of everything our democracy embraces and holds dear.
These are factious and heartrending times.
These are times that need to end.
My husband; and the countless who hope, pray, and work for a better life in America; deserve to once again feel the warming rays of civility, grace, and kindness on their skin. They deserve to believe that the choice to leave their country of origin in exchange for the promises of an adoptive one wasn’t a bait and switch scheme. That America, though temporarily cloaked in indifference at its highest levels, still remembers the latitudes and longitudes of its beating heart.
This election is so much bigger than politics.
This election is about personhood.
Whether your ancestors came to our shores freely or as enslaved persons held against their will, whether you were born in America or America was born in you, whether you lean red or blue or somewhere in between, we are all worthy of better.
This is not a call to arms or civil unrest, but, indeed, a call to communal awareness and civic responsibility. If we, as citizens of this great nation, do not hold it, and those entrusted to govern it, to a higher human and moral standard, tell me: who will?
At the 1976 Democratic National Convention, the keynote speaker, Representative Barbara Jordan, said this:
Jordan, Barbara. (1976). [PDF].
“A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good. A government is invigorated when each one of us is willing to participate in shaping the future of this nation. In this election year, we must define the “common good” and begin again to shape a common future. Let each person do his or her part. If one citizen is unwilling to participate, all of us are going to suffer. For the American idea, though it is shared by all of us, is realized in each one of us.”
The 2020 Presidential Election is six days away. Six. And if you’ve made it this far, I will have to tell you: my heart can’t take four more minutes, let alone four more years, of the pathological dishonesty, emotional absenteeism, ill will, and moral erosion that has both characterized and defined the current administration.
It is time to turn a deaf ear to the reckless ravings of an emotionally-bankrupt conman and turn our eyes and hearts toward hope.
No one person is going to save us, but we can certainly vote in decency and civility and, in that, perhaps save ourselves.