At this time last year, I wrote about Julian’s first day of second grade. I can hardly believe how different the world seems just a year later.
For one thing, Julian wasn’t the only one who started school this fall. My almost-three-year-old son Zeke went to his first day of preschool yesterday, too. We found a brand new preschool in the south end of Seattle basing its program around an anti-bias curriculum, and Zeke will be spending a few hours there every morning now.
That also means, of course, that I had three childless weekday hours to myself yesterday. Unheard of. I went to the bathroom without being interrupted for the first time in weeks. I played the piano for almost half an hour without anyone sneaking up behind me, grabbing my shirt and trying to yank me backwards onto the floor. I did some writing and answered some long-overdue emails. You know, the exciting stuff.
But it’s not just in my own home and my own routines that things have changed. Our country is in obvious chaos.
Flood waters are covering the Houston area. Hurricane Irma has already claimed lives in the Caribbean islands and is headed next for Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Wildfires are ravaging vast tracts of land throughout the Northwest, leaving us safe in Seattle but blanketed by an eerie haze of smoke, an ominous film that matches the feeling I have that right now, every day in America is a loaded gun.
Our government is openly sanctioning racism, police violence, oppression and suppression. Basically, it's doing what it's always done to us, but it's not even having the decency to try to cover it up anymore. Most of us are responding by feeling like deer in headlights, wringing our hands and talking angrily and feeling appalled, but ultimately carrying on as though the system will change itself, or at best spinning our wheels trying to resist something so monolithic.
It feels like something is about to break. Like America’s bubble is stretched thin and about to burst. And maybe that’s a good thing, as tumultuous and painful as it is in the meantime, because for all its faults, the Trump administration did not invent racism and division in America. The Republican regime is only vocalizing and expanding on our racist past and present, stoking fires from coals that have never stopped burning hot.
And with all this happening, I dropped my son off at public school yesterday. Government-run, government-mandated public school, in a country whose government is openly oppressing people like my son and operating on systems I don’t believe in and can’t support.
I wanted to write about my hopes and dreams for Julian and Zeke for this school year. I wanted to think of their beautiful faces and their beautiful futures. Instead, I feel fear and conflict. Am I sending Julian into the belly of the beast? Am I contributing to the system and complicit in its ills?
I believe that I am, if I'm being truly honest with myself.
So, what then? When will enough be enough? When will I be willing to make changes as drastic as the depth of the problems we face?