I am angry.
I am enraged that a survivor’s voice was mocked. I am angry that Dr. Ford was called “a credible witness” because of her composure. Had she testified with the same display of fury as Kavanaugh those who sought to discredit her trauma would have pounced on her behavior as that of an irrational, hysterical woman.
I’m livid at the hypocrisy of McConnell who wouldn’t hold a vote on Merrick Garland because we were too close to an election but forced a vote on such a controversial candidate six weeks away from the midterms. I’m terrified at what this means for women, for LGBTQ communities, for the environment, for immigrants for the separation of powers, for the world my son will inherit.
I’m angry because I fiercely believe in choice – choice on what to do with one’s own body whether that be pregnancy or gender reassignment; choice to marry whomever one pleases and live wherever one wants; and of not having to choose between bread or medicine.
I am angry because the events of the past few weeks (months, years) are in sharp contrast with the values I hold dear. If my viewpoint were other than it is, I would be overjoyed at this moment instead of stressed out and having a weird, mild shingles outbreak behind my left scapula. Behind my heart.
Listening to the music of Tori Amos and shaking with fear and rage and the weariness that came from crying over Collin’s announcement to vote yes, I stopped at a red light on my way to pick Cole up from school and engaged in a most basic spiritual practice. I looked up at the trees and the sky. Both were still there. Steady, ancient, comforting. So often they remind me that my life is small and short and the troubles I feel today will pass. And more, that most of the things I worry about don’t come true.
The poets say our trees stand in silent witness to our human drama. But the silence is a lie. There is new understanding that trees talk. They warn each other of disease and take measures to protect themselves. And like us humans washing our hands to prevent the flu, it doesn’t always work. They get sick, they wither, they die. The idea that trees are mere witnesses to our drama is also a lie. They give up their bodies for our homes, our paper, our furniture, our fuel. They purify our air and give shade and shelter animals with whom we also share a kinship. We need them. And they need us. We give them our very breath. Each letting go for us is a drawing in for them. Each surrender a harvest.
If we could hear the trees speak in human language what would they say about the rancor in our world today? How would they express anger, joy, compassion, rage? Would they be allowed to use hot words and actions the way Kavanaugh did at the hearings, or would they have to take the more conventionally acceptable route of feminine anger expressed in tears only to be dismissed as too sensitive and emotional?
“We have a lot of women that are extremely happy — a tremendous number — because they’re thinking of their sons, they’re thinking of their husbands and their brothers and their uncles and others and women are, I think, extremely happy,” Trump said.*
He’s right about one thing, I am thinking of my son. What kind of ethos will he inherit? How do I help him navigate the landscape of manhood when I have no experience in the area? How do I ensure that he will have the strength to resist a culture of toxic masculinity that he will be exposed to just as surely as my niece will learn about mean girls and the virgin/whore dichotomy? How do I make sure my sweet boy is one of the men who cover a girl passed out on the couch with a blanket instead of his body?
How do I teach my son about rage?
Perhaps I am to be like the trees. To stand steadfast in the messiness. To breathe in his experience and exhale my profound love. To demonstrate compassion. To teach him to call his representatives even when it seems hopeless. To offer refuge and blanketing shade. And when the time comes, to show him what it means to burn.
Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash
Thank you for your voice and courage Melinda. Well said.
This is marvelous. Your righteous (meant seriously) anger gives you power, but does not overcome you. I love your appreciation of trees. As one who loves the poetry of Robert Frost and Mary Oliver, trees are people writ large. We will talk. I love your passion and your energy. I am so glad we are friends. Rick
I’m so pleased you liked this. Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets too. Hope you enjoy your poetry convention today.