Well, isn’t this an accurate statement right now? I saw this sign while on a run the other day. I’ve probably seen it 100 times, as it marks the boardwalk of a favorite trail, but that day, it spoke to me.
Who else is feeling helpless in an increasingly hostile world? We are being led to collectively make choices that we never thought we would have to make, especially our leaders around the world. We are going down a path of no return. An uncertain place with fewer and fewer of them, as the options are steadily being stripped away by a madman dictator.
Who knows how this unprovoked war will progress. How long will we sit back and observe the bombing of civilian areas, schools, hospitals, and power plants of Ukraine? How long will we bear witness to attempted acquisition of a sovereign nation? I am less and less hopeful that the remaining Western world can avoid a military conflict with Russia.
My dad was a history major. He’s still a huge student of history, and the one thing he has repeated to me many times over the years is that the sole goal of Russia is the complete destruction of America. I always hoped that this couldn’t be, growing up in the era to witness the dismantling of the Soviet Union, but now this makes me wonder, what is the real reasoning behind the invasion of Ukraine? Because the reasons given don’t make sense. What was the reasoning behind meddling in our 2016 election? It was seemingly to help elect another like-minded authoritarian. And what a mess that brought us.
Both the former US president and Russia’s president claim to be devout Christians, fighting for a world full of virtue and old family values. Both are being praised by American evangelicals. I read an article that proposed that religion is one reason for the invasion, as Kyiv is the Jerusalem of the Russian Orthodox Church. It proposes some pretty radical theories that perhaps aren’t too far fetched, and were echoed by the author Casey Michel in an interview on NPR last week.
As the world becomes more progressive and democratic, choking out hate and injustice, it’s as if these final flames of white supremacy are making one last go of destroying a new, hopeful world. But now it’s beginning to feel like they might win. As the Christian Nationalist movement gains momentum in the US, I am more fearful than ever of the world that will remain for my children once my body has left this earth. I naively thought that these people, these thoughts were not mainstream. I deeply wish they would go back into hiding.
I find it increasingly challenging to go on with my daily life knowing what horrible injustices are being carried out both domestically and on the other side of the world. The rise of Christian Nationalistic ideals is no longer fringe. These ideals are being written into law, most notably in Texas, with strict anti-choice laws, anti-CRT legislation, and now anti-transgender laws on the books. Other states have taken notice and are, sadly, following suit. I suppose the systemic rules in place to suppress people of color were not enough. Diluting voting rights, restricting reproductive rights, and denying rights to the LGBTQ community were next. Even in my own county, a symbolic gesture of equality proposed by the school board is now slated to be “studied” by a far right Christian group. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? We are sliding backwards. So very far backwards.
I should have known the depths of white supremacy when I encountered a rather ridiculous man at the Virginia State Fair in 2012. I had visited the DNC’s booth, proudly wearing my Obama/Biden campaign button. This man, who worked for a local pest control company and was wearing his uniform, was giving someone a hard time about the election. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. He caused quite a scene, screaming that I was an instrument of Satan and going to hell for voting for Obama. Wow. I’ve never been called an instrument of Satan before. But I do know who I won’t be calling for any pest control issues.
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to go back to 2008, to a time when I really believed that our country was, at last, moving in the right direction. A time when it seemed the path was wide open and full of optimism for a better world. I still remember being moved to tears as I stood in line to vote in that election. I mean, the line went out of the school and well into the parking lot! People were excited to participate in the process. So many of us looked at each other, smiling, grateful for the possibility of change.
Who knew that the backlash in the end would be so swift, so damaging, so reversing, so dark, it would make your head spin. It’s as if the very light of hope was extinguished by hate with the election of our last president. In the midst of his darkness, the cockroaches of society were allowed to emerge, multiplying in droves, their virus of Christian nationalism and white supremacy spreading uncontrollably, their voices magnified by outlets like Fox News and perhaps even the local pastor.
I don’t know this America. Many of you do, whether you’ve been a victim of it, or a participant. I was blissfully protected from so much of this awfulness in my life until recently. Now I understand that it was always there, just in hiding. How appalling that these views seem so mainstream now. I don’t know how to reconcile the existence of these views in this world. I thought history had taught us better. Many new leaders in America know this, and no longer want our children to learn the truth, editing curriculum in our classrooms.
The path is narrowing, indeed. It seems that the good things are being squeezed out as we are being forced down this trail of uncertainty, with forces of evil guiding, not goodness and light.
I have to have hope that we can fight this, that we can be the good. We can be the light. We can still channel the voice of just, progressive leaders. We can forge a new path where human rights are honored, where true equality is law, where religion doesn’t dictate legislation, where corporate greed doesn’t buy politicians, where everyone feels safe walking in their neighborhood, where love and respect rules, and where we are free from power hungry authoritarianism. But we have to work together. Let’s change our path.
What is happening in Ukraine could happen anywhere. Any time an authoritarian leader is ignored and emboldened with power, the result can be bleak. And we can all become refugees in an instant. How are you managing under the stress of this crisis?
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.