Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Day of Atonement


It’s rarely a good idea to write in the grip of deep emotion. Or rather, it’s not a good idea to write publicly. The writing itself is a good way to wrestle the emotion down to some manageable and understandable form. And after just seeing Fahrenheit 11/9, Michael Moore’s new movie, I need to do something. Piano playing would be good, but it’s 10:30 at night.

So I’ll just share this much. My inability to form a coherent response is not from the next outrage from Trump. It’s from the clear evidence presented in the movie that we somehow deserve Trump, the Democrats and voters and non-voters and of course, Republicans, all paved the way for his rise by all that we did and all that we didn’t do. And that even my (and perhaps yours) beloved Obama and happy-with-him-at-the-time Bill Clinton come off as part of the collusion.

I expected to be bombarded by Trump rallies ad infinitum, but Moore turns the movie in many surprising directions. One of the most positive ones and hopeful ones was the West Virginia Teacher’s Strike. And one of the most extraordinarily looks at human evil disguised as the game of politics was the segment on Flint, Michigan. What Governor Rick Snyder did there and what the people around him allowed and even Obama weirdly endorsed, or at least let slide, was an unpardonable sin even beyond the Emmett Till story, the school shootings and NRA story, the tearing children from their families ICE story.

But all of these stories have one thing in common—we, as a nation, are willing to harm mentally and physically and even murder innocent children in the name of profit, power, privilege. The children at the Mexican border are suffering from traumatic separation that will haunt them their whole life. The children in Flint are suffering from lead poisoning that causes brain damage and physical issues and can be passed down to their grandchildren. The children in Parkland, Sandy Hook, Columbine and countless other schools are suffering from life trauma of seeing their friends and classmates gunned down with the NRA’s weapons of choice. And those children murdered suffered by having their lives ripped from them. As did Emmett Till, whose murder was part of the fanatic insanity of upholding white supremacy. Is this the plan to make America great again? What have we become that we endorse, ignore or stay silent about preying on our own children?

Today is Yom Kippur and it was the right time to see this film. If ever we needed a reason for atonement and repentance, it is now, in our shameful time when our future is being determined by shameless people and we are playing around sending cool emojis on our new i-Phones. But we're also taking to the streets, as we did in the recent climate change march, we are spending Sundays writing postcards to people in power, most of whom don't care, but some of whom will vote for the right thing if they think their re-election depends upon it. This is the last hope to begin to move toward the democracy we have never been, but most good-hearted people sincerely want and all people deserve.

Please see this film and take notes. The warnings are dire and real, but so are the hopeful signs and November is coming soon. We will need the 100 million people who didn’t vote in the last Presidential election (compared to some 130 million that did) to get to the polls and help stop this madness. Please. 

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