Because we are brave enough to feel all the pain, we are lucky enough to have all the heart …
I reckon I worry for my country about 100 times a day.
I would very much like to type that this is not by choice, but necessity and be done with it. It actually goes to a place that is far deeper and more uncharted than that.
I wonder if by exploring this for a few minutes, that maybe we can come to some answers about how and why we have arrived here. I type the pronoun “we” in this instance, because I’ll wager many of “you” also find yourself anchored to this unsteady place.
The terrible blast on Nov. 8, 2016, triggered something that I never knew was buried deep inside me. Thankfully, it had not dared to present itself before, because as a man of a certain age, I discovered long ago that as great as life could be, I had my hands plenty full dealing with all of its cold, hard reality.
This new sensation was a lot to deal with.
The awful shock of that November day unleashed the devastating realization that despite 250 years of furiously paddling to put our original sin as far behind us as humanly possible, that when we finally stopped to look back, it was still right there in plain sight, menacingly yawning at us.
Could all of it have been for nothing? Would mankind ever really be able to overcome the cold winds of hate, and somehow generate an overwhelming gust that would fill the sails of hearts and minds for all time?
On that day, we got the bracing answer, because if we were capable of electing THAT, what else were we capable of?
So I worry about my country 100 times a day because there is always something circulating inside me that gushes through my heart, my brain and my whole damn being that simply won’t let me be.
I’ve posited that it could be the dark-gray residue of a survival instinct that has kicked into high gear, but it somehow feels like something even more unusually urgent than that.
Since the blast, I have grudgingly become more active in politics than ever before. With my formal journalism career in the rearview mirror, I have been able to take a side; become a partisan; openly fight for what I think is so obviously right.
I would have much rather stayed on the outside looking in to be honest with you. I’d had enough of the fight. Time was no longer on my side, but I was going to be the steward of whatever was left. Let the young do the fighting. Hell, it’s their world after all …
As I’ve wrestled with this thing that will not let me be, I have arrived at an interesting curve and I am suggesting you might want to hold on tight.
This thing that burns inside us? This force that would rather we didn’t have a moment of peace? This voice that nags us in our sleep? Well, it might not be so bad after all.
Maybe, just maybe, it is the most honest and beautiful thing we’ve ever felt. Maybe, it is the curse that is tightly wrapped inside a blessing.
You see, we are the ones, my friends, who are built to saddle ourselves with the hurt, and cry out loud so that the heartbeat of so many of America’s disenfranchised can still be heard. We are the ones who will help carry the pain for others until this country finally, and once and for all, finds the cure.
Chances are peace and understanding will not break out in our lifetimes, but we are yet another link to the bridge that will take us there.
We have a gift.
We have known all along what could emerge from the darkness of that November blast six years ago: bloody insurrection, the attack on our democracy, the darkness of fascism, the trafficking of human beings, the reckless shaming of vaccines that save lives, the banning of books, the attack on women’s rights, the attack on the LGBTQ community, the absolute mauling of the truth …
We knew all of this was possible.
We saw how terrible it could be.
We are reminded of this hundreds of times a day.
We wish we had been wrong.
We carry on …
… and we carry on because we must, and with the knowledge that we are not alone. We carry the burden and fight for what is most definitely right because we know now that this is most definitely what is inside us.
We are the people who will be talked about hundreds of years from now as the brave and the enlightened.
We are the people who fought for the better, more necessary way forward.
We take the high road.
And if all that makes us sound like we are full of ourselves? Well, I say it is about time.
I say we shrug that off, puff out our chests and scream, “We are The Liberals! You are all damn lucky to have us! We WILL strive to save this country in spite of you! And we WILL get there!”
We will say all that, we will keep paddling, and we will be the lucky ones in this country who are truly able to live with what is inside us.
Originally published here on D. Earl Stephens’ Substack “Enough Already”.
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