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The Present

Someone on Facebook asked me if I could offer historical perspective on these "terrifying times". My short answer was:

My historical perspective is that we are in terrifying times. I mean, the good news is that this happened because we were making social progress, and that eventually we will come out the otherside and make even more progress... But in the meantime we will suffer and people will die.

My long answer is this:

Every time there is progress, there is push back. The 1920s were a time of social freedom and positive cultural advancement, where marginalized communities, for a time, found more social acceptance - that period came OUT of the First World War, which had been it's opposite - men sent to die and countries ruined by a ruling class that did not understand the changing world. And, much like the 20s follows WWI, the rise of fascism was a response to the 20s - in particular fascism's social/cultural policies and the persecution of marginalized communities that became more visible in the 20s.

A Russian History Prof of mine once referred to Russian history as happening like a pendulum - swinging first one way, then that momentum - instead of launching the weight further forward - swings back just as far to the other extreme. I see the same thing now.

We're on a backwards swing right now - and it's important to know that the pendulum will swing forward again. Whether that's in 2 years, or 4... or whether it happens outside of the political process completely.

I'm not going to lie, I'm extremely devastated, as I have basic empathy - and also because the US is a world influence, and this is going to have social, and cultural ripples everywhere (waves, tsunamis). Then there's the fact that a Trump presidency was determined to be something that would destabilize world economies and possibly plunge everything into another recession... which is the last thing we need right now.

But, Germany's response to Hitler was to come up with the strongest democracy in Europe and the most open society. They learned. If that learning happens in the US (preferably without the millions of dead and the country and continent in ruins) - then when the pendulum swings forward again, it might even swing hard enough to shift the clock over an inch, so that it can never swing back as far as before.

This might also be a good time to donate to charities and strengthen your social responsibility networks - keep an eye out for your neighbours who might face increased racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, prejudice, and marginalization, and the intersection of all those.

The only way out is through, and we've all watched enough Supernatural to know that the worst thing would be to split up! So, stay together - look out for each other - and we'll come out the other side of this with a hug. :)

Love,
Alix

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
kailita
Nov. 10th, 2016 06:11 am (UTC)
As someone who just weathered that mess of an election...it's a little scary over here right now. I'm still having difficulty verbally processing what just happened, but because I work with kids, I had to pull it together quickly. I've been thinking the same as you regarding the pendulum of progress. It's just a shame that after electing our first black president, we regressed so dramatically. :(
hells_half_acre
Nov. 10th, 2016 08:41 am (UTC)
Yes. I've got a sister in the US. I'm driving down this weekend to visit her - she's, understandably, having a hard time. She has friends in marginalized communities that have already seen increased hostility... and it's all very distressing.

I keep wanting to offer people some plan - some idea of how to fix this problem. But it's a ridiculous urge, because where do you even start? And how the hell would I know what to do?

I don't know why things have regressed so dramatically - or maybe they actually haven't? Maybe we can be optimistic and think we're being fooled - that neo-fascism isn't on the rise REALLY... that it's just these weird BIG events that are the anomoly, brexit, this election, the similarly worrying upcoming elections in France and Germany... while meanwhile people actually do care for each other, and people aren't really racist? It's hard to tell what's real anymore to be honest. Does your white middle-aged neighbour secretly hate you? Or is he just an idiot who means well, but can't tell racism from a hole in the wall?

I don't know!

Anyway.. as you can tell, I'm also still trying to process. :P

supernutjapan
Nov. 10th, 2016 06:33 am (UTC)
Beautifully said. I really hope that all we fear will not happen, but there is more going on here than just Trump becoming president. Now especially is the time to stay together.
hells_half_acre
Nov. 10th, 2016 08:43 am (UTC)
Agreed. We must all look out for one another. The world is in turmoil right now, and, if there are indeed dark times ahead, it's up to us to bring as much light and love into them as possible.

Edited at 2016-11-10 08:44 am (UTC)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )