Say You’re Sorry

Several weeks ago, just as I was heading out of town for the next leg of my trip, I met a few friends for brunch in Philadelphia. It was there, in between one of us accidentally smearing butter across the front of her coat and another admitting that she once hoped a fellow bridesmaid would stuck in an elevator at a mid-range hotel in New Jersey, that our conversation turned to politics.

The four of us were on the same page. The president elect spouted policies that we found troubling; his core supporters were, at times, equal parts vicious and delusional; and that bridesmaid really did deserve to wait it out between floors while the rest of us drank a bottle of rose. Where my friends and I disagreed, however, was our approach – namely that some of us wanted to talk through our opinions, while others were more inclined to shout.

This past election was one of the rare occasions that I chose to tread lightly –not because I didn’t have a strong opinion, but because it was a particularly polarizing situation. I didn’t want to anger half of my family and a handful of friends who voted for Trump and applauded his every move. Let’s not forget, I’m from Pennsylvania.

Besides, I also had the dim hope that once he took office, he would walk back his campaign promises and take a more moderate approach. “We don’t really know how it’s going to be,” is how I phrased it that morning and countless other times before.

My friend did not ascribe to this rhetoric. For weeks following the election, she had been posting profanity-laden messages on social media sites that not only slammed our president elect, but also openly criticized those who voted for him. While many of us were encouraging each other to find the middle ground, she was imploring us to pick sides.

 

 

I had to give her credit: she got right to the point. She had something to say and she wasn’t going to complicate the message with eloquence. She was unapologetic and unrelenting and I admired her commitment even if I didn’t quite care for her methods.

“I agree with you,” I said to her. “But I think the way you’re going about it can be… alienating.”

“You’re right,” she said. “It is alienating.”

“I just wonder if you might be more productive if you phrased it differently,” I added.

“Yes,” she nodded. “This is totally unproductive.”

It was the most agreeable exchange two people could have had without actually getting anywhere.

“And I worry that the internet trolls are going to come after you,” I said. “It’s easier than you think to track someone down. Some of these people really scare me.”

“My accounts are private,” she replied. Clearly she had thought through her position as much as she did her strategy and its ramifications.

We left the conversation at that. And that was where things might have stayed had it not been for a whirlwind first ten days of President Trump’s term. In that short time, we saw an executive order that reversed the office’s position on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline; an inexplicable gag order on the EPA and Department of Agriculture; a temporary ban on the entry of immigrants from seven countries and an indefinite halt to our refugee program. The past week has proven unequivocally that this President is every bit as diabolical and ruthless as his campaign suggested he would be. Now we know.

If there’s any silver lining to this situation it’s that suddenly my friend is in very good company. Half the country, it seems, turned up to demonstrate their resistance in one way or another. And that makes me happy because if ever there was a time to get shouty, it’s now. I’m finally ready to admit that.

In fact, I owe my friend an apology – for telling her to tone it down a few weeks ago when I was in denial how terrible our circumstances really were. For letting her voice our joint concerns alone. And for personally contributing to the normalization of a true madman.

And I’m also sorry to lay all that out here, on a travel blog. I know most of you visit this site for stories about water slides and jet boating, not political discourse. This blog is not the proper forum for such a discussion – but it’s the one I have and, imperfect as it may be, it’s the one I’ll use. If you don’t like it, I understand. It must be tiring to be confronted yet again by someone telling you that the line has been drawn. I no longer care about hurting someone’s feelings when everyone’s rights are at stake.

Since I’m no longer living in the U.S., I can’t exactly take my message to the streets. This post will have to do. Should you also want to do something, here are some options to consider:

Donate to the ACLU. Over the past weekend, the organization received a record $24 million which they will use to help protect the rights and liberties of Americans and those affected by the President’s recent executive order.

Donate to Planned Parenthood (preferably in the name of Mike Pence). You know what they do – unless you think they only perform abortions, in which case get it together already.

Join a resistance march. Go ahead, get “hysterical.”

Buy a newspaper subscription to a reputable news outlet and help ensure they don’t become “a failing pile of garbage.”

Call your Congressperson and make a real pest of yourself. And if you need some talking points, check this guide out.

And if you’re a little late to the party, as I am, please say thank you to all the people who spoke up while you sat comfortably on the sidelines. And then say you’re sorry for not doing more sooner. Better yet, SHOUT IT.

 

 

20 Comments
  1. I am appalled at what is going on. Also, obviously, powerless. I applaud all those marchers, the pink hats, the donations, the sudden awakening of a great many people (and if there was a god, including some of the benighted who voted for him) about what exactly we have gotten ourselves into.

    When you can’t do anything else, you keep your head down and try not to notice the news or that pit opening under your foundations.

    Years ago when my mother was in her last years, she called me one vicious winter night to tell me she was worried about the icicles that had fomed across the front roof line of her house. They made the place look like a prison, since they reached the ground two feet below the snow.

    ‘Mother, we have the same situation here, and no, I can’t come over and take them down. It would rip half your roof off.”

    She was furious. “At least,” she said, tearfully, “you could come over and help me worry!” and slammed the phone down.

    This is where I–and a lot of people–sign off of all of it. I can help you worry, but there isnt a thing I can do to make it better.

    There is one thing we seem to have forgotten, in all of this: Sarah Palin is not the VP. Not much light, there, but a glimmer.

    • oh truly! if there is one saving grace to this election it’s that she’s been rendered completely irrelevant.
      i like your story about the icicles. to continue the metaphor, i hope we don’t rip the roof off this winter.

  2. I think this is a great post and stated well. Those of us who write about travel get to experience things most people don’t get to experience–and the EO from Friday was a stark reminder of that.

    I really like this line: “I no longer care about hurting someone’s feelings when everyone’s rights are at stake.”

    • haha – no i’ll probably come back at some point. But i don’t have a home there and i don’t have an interest in being there at the moment.

      • I envy the gypsy in you.

        It’s a joy to read what you write, and what you do, and understand again and again, there are two basic types of people in this world–the gypsies, who rarely unpack; they own campers and wear out the tires, they own boats that travel every waterway they can find–they are expert at postcards and snapshots, languages and the nuances of foreign money–and there are those of us who sit on the porch and wave as the gypsies head out–again–for more adventures.

        Bon Voyage, lady. Always.

  3. Totally relate. Before the election I was pretty vehement — I actually did tell my dad, a lifelong Republican, that if he voted for anyone other than Hillary, I was never speaking to him again and I meant it (and I love my dad, but some things are not OK) — but after the election, I mostly shut up. What good were the anger and the hate and the vitriol going to do after the voting was done, after all? But now… yeah. It’s time to get angry again.

    • Wow. So you’re not the first person who threatened to write someone off over a vote… but it doesn’t sound any less sad the third fourth or tenth time I hear it. I hope it didn’t come down to that for you.
      The good part is that I don’t think I’m the only one whose position is evolving. There might be some hope for middle ground after all. But in the mean time, get loud!

    • Hi – thanks for saying so. It looks like we’ll all have plenty of opportunities to speak up over the next few years. Onward.

  4. This is my first time on your blog and this is the first post I read! So as far as I’m concerned, you could be a political activist and not a travel blogger and that would be just fine by me. :)
    Thank you for speaking you. Thank you for sharing. It’s time we all did more. I fond hope and encouragement when I look around and realize that I’m not alone! So, thank you again.

  5. Great post. I wish I was in DC as well that day. You captured my feelings with your writing too. Thanks!

    P.S. when will you share your piece on wowwomen? Still remains one of the faves of mine… Big cheers from Cape Town (which we leave in two days… sigh). Oh, also Happy Valentines day lady. Big hug!

    • Thanks, Olga! Hope you’re enjoying the last few days in Cape Town!

      I probably won’t be reposting the piece I wrote for you here… it doesn’t really fit with my theme. Sorry girl :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.