I’ve never been much of the political type. In fact, it wasn’t really until the past year that I started paying any sort of attention to politics. I mean, I paid attention to the surface of the discussions–I knew who was president and who disliked him and all that, but I didn’t force my attention any further than that. It never seemed to matter much. I’ve only voted twice (and the first time was for Perot, so that doesn’t even really count; I equate it to being kind of pregnant or not quite a virgin any more).
At the same time, this date—January 20—has always been important to me. I give Deanie Shonka, my eighth grade civics teacher full credit for that. Aside from learning what the franking privilege is (after mistakenly referring to it as bulk rate postage and embarrassing the crap out of myself on a quiz), the date of inauguration day is one of the few things I remember from that class. (I remember, too, Ms Shonka embarrassing the crap out of me by asking—in front of the whole class, mind you—if I was sure I knew what it meant to have a body cavity search.) It seems I’ve always known this to be A Day of Great Importance. Even on the years when there is no one to inaugurate, I find myself looking towards January 20th as an important day; sometimes I find myself forgetting what the date means and I scramble to recall whether or not this is someone’s birthday.
Unfortunately, today is no one’s birthday. No one I know, anyway. It is, in fact, the beginning of the end. If I think positive about it, I can approach today in that light. Today is, after all, the first day of Bush’s last term in office (provided they don’t up and change the Constitution within the next couple of years, that is). Even when I look at it in that light, I get quite depressed.
This political stuff is too much for me. And I want to ignore it, pull a blanket over my head, stick my fingers in my ears and sing as loudly as I can:
LALALALALALALALALALALALALALA!!! I’M NOT LISTENING.
But, apparently, that’s not a very adult-like thing to do. And it positions me as somewhat of an irresponsible defeatist (which I guess I am—what of it?). And it makes me feel a tad guilty, a little more depressed to know that this is all I can do, to know that, no matter what, it won’t go away. The bad man won’t stop.
Last night I had a dream I went to India. There was a program that recruited day time volunteers to help gather the bodies out of the ocean. I felt it was the least I could do to help. I can’t afford to donate much to the Tsunami fund and it felt quite right for me to give my time. So, along with several others, I stood in the surf, waiting for bloated bodies to make their ways towards shore and, when they did, I would wade out, gather them up, and stick them in plastic Safeway bags. Then I’d wash my hands. There was a lot of hand-washing going on in that dream.
I woke up thinking about all the things I could do, given the time and energy and resources—the ways I could create positive change, the ways I could help. And today I want nothing more than to help—in any way I can. And I’m not sure if the best way to help on January 20th is to pull that blanket over my head or to head downtown and protest. But that sends me into a whirlwind of thought regarding the impact of protests (especially those held after the fact) and I get more depressed.
Where’s my blanket?