"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)
This quote has come to mind often over the past few months. This is quite a time we’re living through. I don’t even know what to say or how to write about everything that is happening in our country, the land of the free, the home of the brave.
I did not vote for Trump and I am not happy that he is our president. Every day I am appalled by his actions. I am scared for my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students, my country, and my world. So, I'm scared.
I don’t know what to tell my kids when they ask why anyone would want Trump to be our president. It would be easy to say “They’re racist,” but even I know it’s more complicated than that. I don’t think that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, misogynist or xenophobic.
I don’t know what to I would say to someone who voted for Trump. Honestly, I don’t know a lot of people who did vote for him since I live in a very liberal city (bubble).
I will admit, much to my chagrin, that I often get overwhelmed by the barrage of information, and misinformation, about politics and the state of our nation. I tend to shut down and then, like a kid with my fingers in my ears, stop listening, “La, la, la.” I feel desperate to ignore the truth. Maybe it’s all a dream/nightmare?
I wish it need not have happened in my time. But it did.
And now I get to decide how to go forward, what to do with the time that is given to me.
I can be angry. I can stick my head in the sand. I can condemn the millions of voters who elected Trump. I can be afraid.
At first glance, these choices may seem legit. Righteous anger? Why not. Denial? Right up my alley. Judgment? Lots of experience. Fear? Know it well.
The problem is when I choose these, I’m only feeling. Feeling bad, feeling outraged, feeling lost.
I’m not saying that feelings aren’t important, but I don’t think feelings are going to help. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that we have to decide “what to do with the time that is given us.” We have to DO something. I’m often reminded that I can’t “think my way into right acting.” I can’t feel my way, either. Action is the best way to bring about change, personal and societal.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy or that I always take action, even when I know I should. I struggle with how to get involved and fight against the injustice I see. I don’t see myself as a rebel or a member of the resistance. I’ve never been a big protestor. I’m not sure why I have a difficult time speaking out for what I believe. Maybe I don’t trust my ability to defend my position. Maybe I don’t like confrontation. It is not my natural inclination to be big and bold with my thoughts and opinions.
But, just for today, I’m going to choose action. Small actions to be sure, but action nonetheless. My book club is going to devote time every month to civic action. My church is sponsoring a refugee family. I will attend more rallies with my family. I will volunteer with organizations that support refugees, women, and minorities: GirlForward and ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I will speak up, on Facebook and in person, when I hear hate. I will contact my elected officials. I will plant a "Hate Has No Home Here" sign in my lawn. I will listen and try to understand the other side. I will do my small part to bring about change.
Like the Foo Fighters say, “It's times like these you give and give again / It's times like these you learn to love again.” I wish it need not have happened, but it did. And now I get to decide what to do: point fingers or take action. I hope I continue to make the right choices.