The canaries went down first. Before anyone could even sense the danger, the canaries went down. The workers who heeded the canaries, had a heads up, and might reach safety. Those who did not check the canary, well, they did not, unless they were dragged there.
Right now, we have a situation. Lots, and lots of my thick-skinned, strong-hearted, steadfast countrymen do not believe there is a problem. They are, in fact, seeing canaries fall, and they are Pushing On, because they feel they must. Bills to pay, kids to herd, marriage to tend, mouths to feed.
Checks and balances are in place, and some hope our new President Elect will trip on them and fall on his face. Along the way, his people will be doing their best to defund the social wellness programs, feed the hands that bite us, and protect their own. His leadership, thus far, has made him look like a fool. Keep tweeting away, sir. The weaknesses of our leadership have never been more prominently displayed. Vulnerability, I’m a fan. Vindictiveness, not so much.
OK, you who need not the canary, let’s talk. Say he trips, falls, and chips his tooth in our excellent democratic system? Applause all the way down, I say, and not because I wish him ill–it’s because he has yet to taste the bitterness of reality. If he proposes to be our champion, attending to our wounds, then let him join us here. We welcome you.
But we are fickle, albeit resiliently so, and quickly shuffle on in life. We are shaped by that which is placed upon our plates. We will eat whatever is put before us, and by we, I mean almost half of our country, and this includes each half.
President Obama (whom I will miss sorely) promised change. We voted for him. President elect Trump (whom I dislike immensely, and yet wish well), promised change. We voted for him. I did not vote for him, but We did.
My perception of one difference, is that President Obama was paralyzed by a system unwilling to grant him mobility. President Elect T-money (I still have a hard time saying his name sometimes), will be lifted on the wind by those same barriers to progressive momentum. And I feel that wind is blowing backwards–back to a time when people “picked themselves up by their bootstraps,” and “marriage was so and so,” and “people accepted the caste they were borne into.” OK, I made that last part up, but it’s not a stretch, I believe.
While my stalwart, well-traveled, multi-cultural, and therefore well-cultured friends pooh-pooh the canaries (by calling them liberal histrionics), this man and his friends are already, albeit unwittingly, causing egregious, irreversible harm to people. Soft, blood and bone, individual, fellow countrymen. This matters. Your barriers to seeing the canaries falling does not indicate the problem is not real.
It means you are resilient, hopeful, and perhaps insulated from the chaos. It means, Go You, you are a survivor. It means, you are saving your power for the time it needs to crackle out of you. So, save it, and soldier on. I know you are waiting, too, and watchful.
I commend you for being judicious, and I am working hard to replace all that goes out of me these days, as I diligently serve in the Canary Guild. But hey, if you are one of my people waiting in the wings, and especially if you are quite insulated, and therefore privileged, I will be looking for you to join in the pushback if things start to crumble.
I have dedicated my life to the study of the human mind, human suffering, and trauma. While you feel your mind may be impervious to hate–there are no more easily spread seeds. I will not preach history, for you already know all of that, and yet here we all stand, pooh-poohing. I have uttered this often, and I stand by it today–never underestimate the siren song of the hungry shadow.
You are not immune. No one, is immune. We are malleable creatures, and so we must root into love if we are to stand a chance. Do not root into ambivalence, for when the ground shakes you will be tumbled. Do not root into optimism, for your fall will be even greater. Sink into love, and the reality that this place is wild, and we have a fragile human condition, every one of us.
And on that fresh page of thought, lies an invitation: Do you know what you stand for, that makes our country “great”? (For it is already great, and yet we have far to go.) Where do your passions lie?
Put pencil to paper, and feel that sweet tactile rub of graphite on fiber. Or sit, and indulge that rapid clickety-clack I have grown to love. Write it on your skin with a pen. Utter it into your smartphone.
Do you know what you want to protect, so that when it falls onto our plates you will know to stand up–before it is devoured?