After spending two months in quarantine, worried for the world, it feels almost anticlimactic to be worried for family and self. But here it is. The slow erosion of the past weeks has left our resilience in tatters. As the rhythms of the personal and the professional are at the lowest ebb, we still need to trudge on and believe that everything is a cycle.
Now is the time for care: care for self, care for others, time to not reflect and to simply survive. Time to be thankful, as well, that our family has managed to weather storms before and has grown, improbably, stronger at the core.
I’m lucky enough to follow Teju Cole on Facebook.
in these trying times, he’s a soft spoken harbor of calmness and reflexion.
Yesterday evening he simply asked:”How are you doing? What’s hardest? What’s helping?” and the outpouring of raw emotion was heart-wrenching. But to me its also much more a testament to resiliency and humanity than any self-congratulatory 8pm applause sessions.
Here’s my own reply:
Better than I thought we would. But we’re in an easy place: roof/jobs/relatively low maintenance kids and the French socio-political system is responding relatively sanely. Hardest is realizing a lot of things that should change WON’T change: the slow erosion of our welfare system, despite daily evidence of its usefulness, is still on the agenda; the self-congratulatory 8 pm applause sessions that serves as absolution for all the selfishness … What’s helping is the knowledge that my family is in a place now that it can survive this thing together. It probably would not have been the case a few years ago. I’m grateful every day. And frankly, the fact that people like you are fostering spaces like this comment thread is soothing – in a very stark, very harsh, very real way, but believing in our shared humanity is allowing ourselves to be fragile and flawed in front of each other. (Ps: and the Music! Of course)
The consensus is that the years ahead are not going to be pretty. Most of the western world seems poised to take a hard conservative bent, at a time when massive surveillance technology is reaching a tipping point, and while ultra-religious terrorism is becoming an increasingly common means of protest or rebellion against established states.
Whatever 2017 brings on, at least I’m hoping that creative resistance against the Trumps, Putin and Le Pen’s of the world will fuel an new generation of protest art in general, and songs in particular. Hey, I need all the silver linings I can get.
As a testament to the power of protest songs, here’s one I (shamefully) discovered only recently.
There’s an amazing story behind it, as well. It was written by Abel Meeropol, a New York Jew, not a Southern African American, who was a communist high-school teacher and ended up adopting the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
This gives me hope that in the years to come, people will find it into their hearts to fight the good fight and dream up utopias.