Living: airbnb in historic district, Savannah, GA
Working: ThincSavannah, Historic downtown, Savannah, GA
This week in laundry: America hath spoken.
For the first time since may, Iím shifting my laundry schedule. It works well, in preparation for the upcoming vacation. A Saturday cadence helps.
It is however necessitated by neglect. I missed a couple of shirts last week. And when you only have 7 pieces of clothes in your bag Ė that mistake forces a change.
Sometimes you donít have a choice in change. And sometimes, despite it being unwanted, it is for the best.
America is changing in drastic ways. Much as the world as. If you need any more proof, just look at me. In any other era, I would struggle to make a comfortable living while moving from city to city every other week. But in todayís day and age, with the internet, with software, with the toolset of uber and airbnb, itís quite easy.
Out of all the questions I ask myself on this expansive cross country trip, the one that comes to me most often is this: What is America? Because itís more than the coasts. More than New York and LA. And more than Chicago. Itís more than the South. And more than the Midwest. Itís certainly more than DC.
Itís all these great nuggets of cultural differences. Of historic differences. And Landscape differences. Areas deep in drought and rich in rain. They all come together to form a picture of America.
And you canít fully color that picture without the Apex of American expression, the election of the US president.
This yearís election season has been particularly unique. Not just from the typical partisan positions. Positions adopted much like sports fans to their football teams. But for the controversial candidates. Both the least liked candidates in long history. And both rich in multiple controversies.
Both do a fantastic job of dividing this nation not just in climate, landscape, dialect and regional microculture. But in political culture and in personal priorities.
I think this election meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Because there were so many different things it could mean, it enabled a lot of people to focus on some more than others. Based on their personal priorities.
To some, it was about traditional conservative positions. To some, it was about change and reform. To some, it was about civil rights and opposing bigotry and misogyny. To some it was about a first female president. To some it was about national security and the ongoing threat of Islamic terror. To some it was about avoiding practices and policies reminiscent of†early Nazi Jewish legislation. To some it was about exercising supremist sentiment. To some it was about maintaining LGBT rights. To some it was about the environment. To some it was about lifting EPA restrictions. To some it was about respect. Showing respect to our flag. And showing respect through political correctness.
That list barely touches the surface. There are so many things it could mean, and only two sides to the debate. You could care about any number of things on that list, and some might be better represented by one candidate or the other.
Not everyone values the same things. Even if they do, not everyone values them at the same priority. Thereís a lot of things on that list. So easily your preference for one candidate or the other quickly topples depending on the weight of your priority, and how severely you weigh that priority.
Somewhere in that list of things to care about is a highest priority. To a lot of people, that thing is marginalization tactics. Be it in various forms of racism, bigotry, or misogyny. To many other people, this was less important than other things. To many further, it is denied outright as on the table. Simply the way things are.
In common associations between you and I, we might identify these as tools of the bully. We see them from time to time, but in most cases we get to devalue them by denying them power. In forum on the pulpit, these are the tools of tyrants and dictators. At least they have been in the past.
Is the president elect either of these things? No. Because heíd have to use these tools in tyrannical ways in as president in order to be a tyrant. Or at least try to. And heís not president yet.
This is why people ask to give him a chance. Because thereís not yet been a wrong doing.
This is also why people are afraid. Because of the way these tools work. Giving a chance is the last chance you have before you have a tyrant.
In the wake of the election weíve seen many protests. Some of those have spilled into riots. Others have not and focus on peace. Some of the protesting focuses on the president elect at large. Other parts focus on those things that people are most concerned with. That thing on their list of priorities. Discrimination and marginalization.
Iíve even seen protests here in Savannah. Though quite small. I was surprised to find the focus wasnít targeted at the election or the president elect, but largely on engaging discrimination through compassion. The thing theyíre most worried about. The thing at the top of their list. The thing thatís most at threat to them. That they feel compelled to bring awareness to.
I believe thereís also a cultural element to these protests as well. Because the thing that inspires the protest is largely a desire to avoid discrimination. It is largely a desire to support civil rights. To support human rights. Which many feel are at threat. Ever since the 1960s, thereís been a tradition in this country of using protest as the mechanism to support these thing. Itís a part of the US culture Ė combating threats to civil rights with protest.
People are very afraid. And their fear is real. If it wasnít they wouldnít be protesting.
But is the reason behind this fear valid? Or perhaps itís not a question of valid or invalid, but rather a sliding scale of validity. If so, on a scale of zero to ten, where does the validity for all this fear lie? A four? An eight? More? Or Less?
There are a lot of people I trust that would rank this fairly low. There are a lot of other people I trust that would rank it very high. A good number would go to ten.
And I have to ask myself why? Why is that the case? Why are some people less afraid and some people more?
I think a part of it comes back to priorities. If this was a high priority for you as an elector, then this number is quite high. If it was a lower priority, even if it was a priority, this number is likely lower. Because it would have to be in order to fit your decision priorities.
But before we even get to that point, what is it that brings us to our priorities? Our priorities are based on the things we care about most. The things that affect us most. Or the things that have affected us most. Our experience and our needs guide our rankings.
I think the people who place a high priority on civil rights and the tools used against them have personal experience with these tools. I think through abuses running the gauntlet of playground bulling to verbal abuse to assault to sexual assault and rape to childhood sexual abuse these people gained firsthand experience on how these tools work and how they are used against you.
And anyone who suffered these abuses only to have them denied or invalidated understands the true potential damage of these tools. For these people especially, the system, be it social or legal, failed them. And they understand that these tools enable the failure.
And every promise that the system, social or legal, will be there to protect them from an abuse in the face of these tools is a promise that it wonít. They know this from experience. That in the face of these tools of bigotry, misogyny, and invalidation, they can expect to not be protected.
This is the way people feel. You canít change the feeling Ė emotions arenít controllable like that. You can only change the things that cause them. And to repudiate or invalidate this fact, or to deny the source of these feelings as legitimate, only proves the observation further.
In light of this recent observation, born in this Saturdayís wash, itís easy for me to understand why so many are on the streets. Why this was so high on their list. Because of personal experience. Or because they trust and care about someone with personal experience enough to highly value it themselves.
And much as I do with each wash and pack each week in laundry, so too does this country. In a way, America has spent a long few months at the laundromat. The electorate has spoken. And regardless of the ballot cast, we all move forward into the future one wash at a time.