I’ve got a terrible habit that I need to let you all know about: I glance at my phone way too often when I drive. It’s a bad habit that I developed when I was freelancing, working long hours, and glancing at Twitter to break the monotony on long drives. I’ve gotten a lot better at curtailing the “need for feed” as Boom is getting older, but this morning I checked my feed on the inchworm commute to work. No, I shouldn’t have. Yes, I nearly rear-ended someone. It was reckless. It was stupid. I should be safer. Both me and the Volt made it to work with nary a scratch…
Well, no, that’s not 100% true.
I feel completely and utterly off-balance. In my feed were more than a few posts conveying shock and complete befuddlement. There were also posts of anger and disappointment. It’s a safe assumption that I’m not alone in seeing a lot of emotion this morning on Facebook and Twitter, but the one prevailing sentiment I’ve seen? Fear.
When 9/11 happened, I remember fear being a big part of the day, sure. I remember going outside, standing on my deck looking up, and not seeing any air traffic for miles, the silence was so heavy I had problems breathing. That fear quickly became resolve, I recall. Raw determination. What can I do? What can we do? Where can I help?
This fear is very different. This time, the fear wasn’t on account of something from outside. It was us. This fear is incredibly chilling, debilitating. I’m hearing stories of it from teenagers asking their parents on the way to school “What happens now?” I’m seeing it when we try to explain to our own daughter election results, and she cries. I read about how friends of mine are experiencing just the tiniest of pushbacks from people feeling suddenly empowered to “tell it like it is.” I just chatted with a work associate wondering if she needed to start taking measures to protect herself as every bully in America now has a champion in the goddamn White House. These are my friends, my family. People I respect. People I love.
I feel helpless, and I hate it.
On the way to work, though, this quote kept echoing in my head…
This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world – “No, YOU move.”
Yes, I’m terrified. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being the person that I am. I will not be intimidated because my ideals do not fit with ideals based in fear, hate, ignorance, and misogyny. The America I have always believed in is not based in fear, but in resolve. No, this is not an over-reaction and no I am not going to just ride it out because “everything’s going to be okay.” This level of toxicity is not okay. On any level. I’m going to remain stalwart in my beliefs—as a Christian, as a decent human being, as a father, and as a friend.
Don’t stop being the best friend you can be.
Don’t change who you are.
It’s okay to be afraid, but you’re not alone.
Don’t change who you are, and move forward.
It’s what I told my daughter this morning. It’s what I’m telling you.
Know that I see you, I love you, and I’ve got you. Always.