Finding optimism in the riots

I had thought 2020 was overwhelming and then 2021 came along. We knew that the pandemic wouldn’t pay attention to the calendar but I was hopeful that the worst presidency in American history might have run its course. But last week’s riots at the US capitol made clear that things are continuing to get worse before they get better. Just as we need to do the hard work of staying safe from Covid while we work towards a vaccine, we need to do continue to do the hard work of anti-racism while we work towards a more equitable society. (Unfortunately there is no vaccine for racism)

The storming of the capitol by white supremacists and the passive response by police made it clear how much skin color matters. The police were less afraid of armed white rioters storming into a federal building than they were of unarmed black protesters last summer. Seeing confederate flags in the US capitol was so sickening and made it so clear that many people are trying to keep our racial caste system in place. It was hard to watch (and yet impossible to turn away from) and difficult to explain to the girls about what we were seeing.

After the amazing results from Georgia (thank you metro Atlanta!) in the morning, Wednesday afternoon led us back into a dark place. Hannah and I spent all afternoon on the couch watching the surreal video footage unfold. And while it was horrible in so many ways I find that, as I process it, I am actually more optimistic for a few reasons:

  • Words matter – anytime someone says “he was just exaggerating” or “he didn’t really mean it” we can point to DC and show that words matter. The words leaders (or anyone, but especially leaders) say matters. Saying you were joking can not be an acceptable excuse
  • The inauguration will go more smoothly now – if these riots had happened at the inauguration it could have been even worse. It’s now clear that everyone will take security much more seriously.
  • Racism in the open can be better than hidden racism – we’ve been shown over and over how much hatred for Black and people of color exists in this country. When that hatred spills over into violence it can be deadly. But when that racism is shown in (mostly) non-violent but horribly offensive ways, it allows for more open discussions and hopefully reconciliations
  • Potential for more congressional collaboration – I have to think that being trapped in a secure space with other elected leaders fearing for their lives can only help in the ability for representatives and senators to collaborate and compromise.
  • Georgia election results are amazing – As a progressive liberal I am so hopeful that we can spend the next two (or four or eight) years pushing forward on progressive legislation and showing the conservatives that the country (and world) can be a far better place than what we’ve been living with.

I’m not sure yet where I stand on impeachment – I would rather move on to more important things, but I appreciate the need to ensure that Trump getting elected again is not even an option. But it’s clear that the coming weeks are going to continue to be as crazy and dangerous as the last four years have been.

And with the turning of the calendar, here are some random predictions for 2021:

  • The girls will be back in school full-time in September (Hannah in high school, Caroline in middle school)
  • I might not get on an airplane this year
  • Summer camp will be close to normal
  • I won’t be back into the office regularly until the fall
  • Daisy will not outgrow her puppiness this year
  • Christmas and New Years next year will be back to normal

Things that went well this week:

  • The break from work and school was really nice. We didn’t really do anything but it was great to have downtime without meetings and emails. Although getting back to work has been a nice way to add structure back to my days.
  • Mild weather (temperatures in the 30s and 40s and no snow) has allowed us to continue hiking, biking, playing soccer and enjoying the (ever so slightly) lengthening days
  • I’ve been using Duolingo to (re-)learn Spanish. I have a 31 day streak of 10+ minutes a day and have enjoyed doing something more productive on my phone than yet another game of Wordscapes.
  • We’ve discovered the board game Ticket to Ride which has quickly become a family favorite

Things that did not go well:

  • Covid numbers are out of control. Nationwide deaths are over 350,000. In Massachusetts we consistently add 5000 new cases a day. It’s so frustrating that we can’t get a handle on this mostly based on people’s actions and unwillingness to take precautions
  • Unemployment numbers continue to rise and businesses (especially restaurants) continue to close, this will take a very long time to recover economically
  • The number of hours of video game play in our house has increased dramatically now that we have a Nintendo Switch

Random happy find from the web:

This was a year in which our only moments of genuine, unadulterated happiness were when we were able to buy toilet paper.

President Trump, having apparently decided that the best way to deal with the pandemic, as chief executive, is to occasionally tweet about it, focuses his efforts on getting reelected. He holds a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where, addressing an issue of concern to all Americans, he explains in detail that the ramp he had to walk down at the West Point graduation ceremony was slippery AND steep.

Cute puppy photo of the day:

Puppy or pillow? Caroline cast her vote

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