I’m not going to write about the “orange thing with tiny hands” that I know people in my camp are writing about, talking about, avoiding, bemoaning, resisting, marching, crying, and/or self-medicating over. I won’t mention how “orange face w. tiny hands” on his first day in office overhauled the White House website so that it’s now very clearly missing pages for climate change, civil rights, disabilities, gay rights, and health care. Other news sites have parroted “OFTH’s” threats to dissolve the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, which would defund domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers. “OFTH” wants to privatize public radio and eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
As “OFTH” takes a magic eraser, hits delete, lies, and wipes out financial and political support for all the things I hold dear, this sort of psychic assault calls for a particular kind of resistance, and an even greater kind of reverence for what we care about:
My mom is a domestic abuse survivor, and I love her.
My brother is a young person of color, and I love him.
My chosen family is comprised of people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer in all the side-ways and up-ways, and I love them.
My friends are black, brown, and yes, white too, and I love them.
My family are all immigrants, and I love them.
My platonic sweethearts are warrior women, and I love them.
My education as an adult has been enriched by arts and culture organizations, and I love them.
The forests, the valley and the mountains, the streams and the oceans, I love the visible beauty and the mystery of that feeling that only nature can provide.
If it wasn’t for the art, for the books, I would have died at ages 12, 17, 21, 29.
A great love recently said to me that the world is out of balance, that the world is sick...
I am also in fact sick right now: deeply respiratory, all coughing, a voice that is strained when trying to speak. I feel exhausted even by my own words in writing. But let me share one of my favorite quotes as a way to move through the recent inauguration of “OFTH” and the next four years and beyond, by writer Mary Ruefle from her collection of essays titled Madness, Rack, and Honey:
What beauty is is your ability to apprehend it. The ability to apprehend beauty is the human spirit and it is what all such moments are about, which is why such moments occur in places and at times that may strike another as unlikely or inconceivable, and it does not seem far-fetched to say that the larger the human spirit, the more it will apprehend beauty in increasingly unlikely and inconceivable situations, which is why there is such a great variety of art objects on earth. And there is something else we should say about the apprehension of beauty: it causes discomfort; and by discomfort I mean the state of being riled, which is the state of reverberation.
...this great love also said that the art will heal us. And looking back at my 12, 17, 21, and 29 year old selves, I know they’re right.
Let’s hold fast to each other. Let’s revere beauty even harder. And for the rest of the bullshit, we resist, we fight, we burn – and like one of the signs I saw at the Women’s March in Portland: “Fire burns brightest in the dark.”