And the bars are open in New Orleans.
On this Election Day, I am afraid that I will once again learn that a little less than half my friends and neighbors, Americans all, do not share my basic values. I am hoping some of the stress and conflict dissipates.
Fear rules the day, and it is not a good thing. I am afraid that we are slipping into an authoritarian state with the dominant party controlling the media messaging, an increasing acceptance of violence as a means of resolving conflict, people self-segregating into groups that are filled with self-reinforcing messaging, and a rejection of the methods-science, history, economics, philosophy- once used to determine truth and the common good, and that as educated people we once shared. I am afraid that the environmental battle over climate change, conservation and development is lost, and the minimal goal of preserving the status quo is an illusion. I am afraid that my friends and neighbors, in their pursuit of the “other” to blame, will listen to the voices that cut closer and closer to home and, encouraged by irresponsible leaders, begin to direct their fear and anger in physical ways to match their hateful rhetoric.
I see people walking in fear. I see women afraid of men. I see queer people afraid of straight people. I see straight people afraid of queer people. I see blacks afraid of whites and the power that they have to wield authority against them. I see Jews afraid of Christians, and other religious minorities afraid they are next. I see Christians afraid of loss of status and power. I see whites afraid of just about everything, arming and isolating themselves. I see a militarized police, afraid of the people they serve. I see people afraid of authority, never sure if the system will be used for or against them.
I see young people afraid that the education they got and the work they have done has not prepared them to live as their parents did. I see people aging and afraid that the skills and abilities they have are irrelevant, that there will not be enough money to maintain their place in society, and the promises they based life decisions on will be broken.
I see all this fear driving our politics, and am afraid. As an individual, I can try to recognize the fear I feel and refuse to act on it. I’m not sure we have it in us as a society to reject the fear and anger.
In any case pecans are still falling from the trees, and people are playing good music in cool venues all over town. It is a warm and muggy day, and it is time to walk around to enjoy the sweat.