The life-saving power of belonging may help explain why, in America, blacks and Hispanics have long had much lower suicide rates than white people. They are more likely to be lashed together by poverty, and more enduringly tied by the bonds of faith and family.
Imagine Election Day, November 8, 2016, as the moment the Titanic crashed into the iceberg. The Titanic is a metaphor for America, and I am one of its many passengers who can’t believe it is actually sinking. A part of me still hopes the political situation will reverse itself, that truth and law will triumph, and America will come to its senses.
But as the water levels rise right before my eyes, I realize that no one can stop the inevitable. The truth is upon us like a dark sea on a freezing winter night. And here’s the corker: the political elite have already distanced themselves for their own self-preservation. They are in lifeboats now, far from our reach. But what they don’t realize is, unlike the Titanic, these lifeboats will not be rescued. They, too, are stranded in treacherous seas.
The cycle of lies and hatred are becoming repetitive, and no American can escape what is happening to our country. On January 20, 2017, America will begin its painful journey into resettlement. But many of us can survive if we know disappearing is not an option.
Maybe this article is another speck on the sea, an unseen flare and futile attempt to call out in despair before I hit the perilous sea of uncertainty. My question is, when so many people are crying out, can any one voice be heard?
In the new administration, we see that criticism is considered a personal threat to omniscience. Therefore, any citizen such as myself can easily be labeled a gadfly, which will now be added to the list of other labels that identify me: American, writer, feminist, lesbian, Jew, mother, sister, friend.
I believe surviving is the best form of resistance.
So let us prepare.
Here is what I’m doing. I am accepting the truth and not hiding behind magical thinking. As President Obama said in his farewell address, “Reality has a way of catching up with you.” I know now there is no way to avoid what is before me. So I am putting on my life vest and hoping some of us can swim together, create a community at sea, and resist by sending out bold writing and art, while helping others do the same.
When fair markets become a thing of the past, carefully negotiated international agreements are severed, and our attention is diverted so we do not see the disassembling of democracy, LGBTQQI laws, women’s rights, and Roe v. Wade. Take a breath and give yourself permission to shout out.
Let’s make this the best-documented disaster ever recorded by humankind and expose the new administration. Shine a bright light on injustice. And remember, like on the Titanic, officials said there was no cause for alarm. People were assisted by their financial status, and the elite were prioritized. That means the rest of us are all going to have to learn to work together in order to stay afloat.
If you’re like me—tired of looking for someone to lead the way and suddenly feeling surrounded by old, pink men with chins dipping down and lips pressed tight into a frown— consider these five potential benefits to America’s metaphoric sinking:
1. Divided religions will unite into one loving voice, and it won’t matter what language the person next to you is speaking.
2. Your money—or someone else’s—will no longer establish, or define, self-worth.
3. You don’t need a degree to thrive in this disaster. But you must unapologetically be yourself.
4. Women will unite in a rediscovery of feminism.
5. For those of you who struggle with depression, which is a serious matter, consider this “struggle” an opportunity to busy yourself with helping others survive. That kind of healing might be better than a pill.
If you’re on board with this movement, join me in wearing bright colors, so we stand out and can recognize each other in a crowd. You don’t have to go shopping, you can wear a torn piece of fabric tied around your wrist. Why? The greatest difficulty in a water rescue is spotting those adrift. So wearing bright colors is imperative. Put them on when you go to work and when you protest. And if someone else’s bright colors catch your eye, give a nod. No one needs to feel alone in this turbulent sea.
When the political haze circles around you and you can’t tell where the sea starts and the sky ends, when you feel lost or ignored by those who could have helped but didn’t, and you feel your face dipping below the waterline, call out. Don’t give up. It will be your greatest triumph.