Thoughts As We Make “The Climb”

I’m someone with deeply held political views, but in the seven years of this blog I have written about other topics because I didn’t want to alienate my readers. I’ve been so enraged at times that I’ve wanted to switch the focus of this space in order to rail at the abominations and injustices, but while I hold strong positions, I have more to say about the world than merely what I think about who represents me in Congress, occupies the Oval Office, or sits on the Supreme Court.

My inner censor screams at me to avoid the topics of politics and religion, but I think its cowardly not to comment on what we’ve seen and experienced, pretending to ignore domestic terrorism and the past four years of unbridled charlatanism as though we can simply move on now that a pimple of fascism has briefly subsided though by no means disappeared.

I could continue to ignore politics, but every part of our lives tracks back to politics. Some have already closed this window on their browsers or exited from the app on their phones, but for anyone who is curious as to where I’m headed, here’s another checkpoint: If you are more comfortable with the vulgarity of trumpian terrorists and what they stand for as they breached the Capitol two weeks ago than with National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman standing in that same spot this week reciting her poem The Hill We Climb at the Biden-Harris inauguration, you’re probably not going to like what comes next.

I was raised in a racially contentious region. I was raised in an evangelical denomination that was founded on its pro-slavery stance though I would wager that most of its members are unfamiliar with that fact. I attended an all-white high school located in a “sundown town.” I heard racial slurs rolling off the tongues of church leaders and family members with ease. There were no leaders of color in my community, and it’s a wonder that I ever developed any cultural awareness at all.

Thank the universe for my addiction to television in the 70’s. When I met Norman Lear, I thanked him for providing me with a window into an alternative world than the one I was living in. I might have been watching sit-coms, but I learned a great deal more than anyone in the house was aware of. I grasped the issue of wage disparity between the genders, and between white women and women of color. I gained insight into housing restrictions, interracial marriage, and a woman’s right to make her own health decisions. Television gets a bad rap, but in those days I was learning something that I didn’t get in my community.

When I got to college, the population was still predominately white, but I took my first steps toward diversity by meeting people who came from different backgrounds. Nowadays when I am within earshot of people who claim that higher education turns out too many liberals, I immediately think if that statement is true, someone has done their job. Students have become exposed to people and ideas, food and culture that they would never have encountered if not for higher education doing part of its job.

Graduate school provided more opportunities to engage with multiculturalism, and each step I’ve taken since those days has broadened my horizons, made me increasingly aware, and rewarded me with cherished friendships.

Obituaries in the time of covid have also provided me with a window. I see a lot of people who have passed away without ever having spent any time outside their comfort zone. I am sad when I think about how much we can miss out on when we don’t engage with people beyond our borders, whether those borders are a few miles or a few thousand miles. Perhaps conquering the unknown is the prevention of war.

As a nation we are beginning to emerge from a four-year nightmare of white supremacy, conspiracies of lies, the fraudulent reality of evangelicalism, and numerous bungled attempts at fascist totalitarianism and dictatorship. To disagree with this statement is to find oneself closer on the scale of being more comfortable with domestic terrorism than Ms. Gorman’s inspirational words. Perhaps its time to question cherished opinions.

We hear the call to national unity, and we need to be working more as a team because we do, indeed, have a hill to climb, but do not mistake what the call to national unity means to certain people. One group means that the Left should not proceed as though they had just won elections to control two branches of government. The people have made their choices and expect results.

A hefty portion of the right wing believes that the 45th president doesn’t need to face the consequences of his proven actions. They think the rest of us should forget everything that has just happened to the nation for four years and not address what must be done to prevent another disgraceful human from occupying the Oval Office. These people think we should keep quiet and allow the continuing slide into the unprincipled right wing.

We’re seeing the former enablers rise and distance themselves from the 45th president as though we will somehow forget that they stood by as their leader failed to disavow white supremacy groups, bungled pandemic relief, and carried on like a madman who truly deserves to be institutionalized.

There are those who admit that they never liked him; that, in fact, they despised him. But except for the Lincoln Project people, it seems the rest of the party members continued to support his candidacy even beyond the election results, because they prefer a corrupt party to one that they have been erroneously told harbors satanic cannibals. The vote count proves this as millions of the non-extremist members of the Republican Party voted to re-elect the madman. His job approval rating was extremely low by national standards when he left office, but the poll numbers indicated that over 80% of his party still approved of the job he was doing. There’s no way I can unify with that.

Unity is going to require the right wing to shift itself at least as far to the Left as Gerald Ford. The domestic terrorists must face the consequences. The congressional members that betrayed their colleagues must be expelled. As James Comey said in a recent interview, the party needs to be overhauled. I would say that it’s better to re-register as independents and do away with the parties. I did so years ago, and though I am a lefty, I enjoy a sense of freedom that I do not have to work in lockstep with a party.

Now that I’ve broached the subject of politics, I considered moving on to religion, but this is probably enough for today.

© 2021 by Patrick Brown

7 Replies to “Thoughts As We Make “The Climb””

  1. Oh, Patrick. Your essay, with eloquence and poignancy, spoke truth to power. You are an example for the rest of us to be courageous enough to speak out against injustice. Never be silent. Silence is as enabling to violence and hate as words of vile and vitriol are. Thank you for who you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So true. When I was much (much) younger, I was torn between “keeping the peace” and “speaking out”. I didn’t struggle long. Our National Experiment is just that – an experiment in government for the people, of the people and by the people; an experiment because, as we’re still learning, it’s the first in the history of human civilization…and, we’re not done yet…still learning by trial and error. That considered, although our evolving system of self-government DEPENDS on different points of view, those differences in discussing the best plan for myriad avenues can, should and must proceed with a mutual regard, respect and open-minded manner. Our democracy is extremely powerful in some ways – and alarmingly fragile in others. Thank You, Paddy, for this reminder for us to speak out like adults – not rowdy children scrabbling in a school playground. Our fragile Federal Democracy form of evolving government – depends on us.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. In 1927, American Poet, Max Ehrmann wrote a remarkable poem that beautifully embraces the philosophy You pen here, Patrick. I, like millions of others, have a framed copy hanging on my office wall. The second stanza sums it up: “Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they, too, have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.” – So true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Desiderata” is the perfect advice for me! Thank you so much for sharing, as I was unfamiliar. You’re always looking out for me, and I can never thank you enough!

      Liked by 1 person

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