Reflections on America in Decline
24 May 2022
I kiss my baby's bald spot after another mass shooting at an elementary school and wonder if anything about the world will be better in 6 years when she starts school herself. It feels like if we are very, very lucky and many, many people work very, very hard, we could maybe keep things from getting worse as fast as they currently seem to be. Maybe.
I am channeling my worry lately in to trying to be prepared. I have a google doc complete with headings of potential disasters and bullet points of what to watch out for and what I can do to prepare for each. The headings I worry about the most feel unspeakable, partly because those outside the group who have been paying attention will think I am being hysterical, ridiculous, paranoid. But mostly because I don't want to give those with the power to enact my nightmares any ideas. Life in the US right now is an exercise in holding off doom and devastation as long as one can, and continuing to work anyways when you can't.
We've decided not to flee Nebraska pre-emptively and one major reason is the strong community ties we have here that we'd be leaving behind. So I'm leaning hard in to community— planning events and attending events and saying yes to subbing for a friend's softball team when I've always said no before. At the same time I'm trying to become more independent— changing my own brake pads on my bike and learning about the systems that make up my house. There is no conflict between my seeking strength in community and trying to increase my personal capacity. They are both things I see as essential for resilience, for survival.
I used to be confused about the motivations of people in apocalypse stories. Why would they not simply die, as I imagined myself doing when the zombies started moving down my street? Suicidal ideation used to be the water I swam in every day anyways. But I'm not in that place now. For one, I have learned that the apocalypse is not likely to come nearly as abruptly as it always does in movies, and I am but an increasingly concerned frog as the water in my pot heats up. But it's more than that. Me of just a few years ago might be surprised to hear it but I truly, desperately want to live, and most days I don't even need to actively convince myself of it. It turns out that I have so much to live for— but now so much at stake, in a world that feels so hostile to flourishing (and of course which is even more hostile to the flourishing of people different than me, especially those with less privilege of whiteness and wealth).
I'm in a place right now where I mostly want to be building things, constructing a better world, dreaming about what could be and figuring out how to join with others to make it happen. There is so much to be against, and trust me: I'm against it. But that rage doesn't feed my spirit; mostly it leaves me staring blankly at a glowing screen, scrolling and not really seeing. Discussions of books with big ideas, hanging posters for a community picnic I'm hosting, learning new things in the company of others and even sending emails gives me energy like nothing else can right now. I don't have any illusions that my small contributions will be enough to stop what's coming. But it's what I have to offer, and offer it, I will.
Webmentions: None yet!
These are webmentions via the IndieWeb and webmention.io.