Now almost a month into 2022, while I still have some hope that things will improve eventually, I’m not quite as optimistic as I was at the beginning of January about some things and more optimistic about others. Entering our third year of the pandemic, one thing is a constant, I am tightly embracing my inner hermit. Fortunately, being an introvert helps a lot. Unlike most of my friends and family, I don’t crave in-person gatherings. I’ve discovered that over the course of the pandemic, I not only appreciate the widespread use of tools like Zoom or FaceTime in addition to the old standbys of voice calls and texts, I find that I prefer them to meeting in-person. It’s safer on multiple levels while still maintaining important connections. It’s also highly likely that my personal live performance days are over even if or when we eventually move from the pandemic to an endemic phase of living with COVID-19. Instead, my music and theater focus has shifted to helping the next generation dive into that wonderful world through mentoring.
Beyond the performing arts, which are still struggling to strike a safe balance between remote only performances and live performances with all the comradery and interaction that allows, the nation is continuing to swing from one extreme to the other between fully reopening with no restrictions to tightening down just short of lockdowns while virus cases mount. That the response to such a deadly threat was politicized and common sense measures demonized make the U.S. an ongoing threat to itself and the world. We could be much further along if only the divisions keeping many people from making wise decisions didn’t exist.
Those same political divisions are driving the ongoing threat to the U.S. remaining a world leader in democracy. This month the GOP members of the Senate, representing 41.5 million fewer people than the same number of Democrats and Independents (with a little help from two Democratic Senators whose motivations are more than a little dumbfounding) thwarted an attempt to preserve voting rights nationwide. As a result, some states will continue to be democratic ensuring that every eligible voter can vote and have their vote counted, while others will do all they can to ensure that even if every eligible voter can theoretically cast a vote, it will be far more difficult for traditionally democratic voters to do so. In those suppressive states, only some votes will be counted going forward as determined by partisan election boards. Voting rights that guarantee free and fair elections are fundamental to any functioning democracy, and the U.S. is in real danger of losing that depending on what Congress does next.
The insurrection investigations are making real progress into exposing the truth of the 6 January 2021 attack on our democracy and the peaceful transition of power after a presidential election. Both the DOJ and the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol have filled in more of the blanks on exactly what happened and who was responsible. The House Select Committee will soon be holding public hearings to let the people of the country know what happened, and all of the evidence they collect will also be made available to the DOJ for future prosecutions. Will it be enough and in time to counter the propaganda and stop another insurrection from happening? Only time will tell.
Living in the bluest part of a very blue state, it is sometimes difficult to imagine how harsh the reality is in other parts of the country where the worst effects of the Congressional deadlock and propaganda blitz play out. Still, the fact that people are engaged even in places where it’s a steep uphill climb to get any relief is encouraging. With all of the venom being spewed across the political divide, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that at our core, despite the rhetoric, we really are all the same. Humans all need the same basic necessities in life, and as a nation, we have the ability to ensure that nobody goes hungry or is forced to live on the street. We just need to have the will to make it so.
Along the way, we all have stories to tell. Some stories may capture the imagination and provide inspiration to make things better. Others can be demoralizing encouraging people to just give up. We need more stories of the former type. Despite the fodder for dystopian sagas the past several years may inspire, we can’t lose sight that the opposite is also out there, and there is far more to life than winning and losing. Watching the ubiquitous political fights blanketing the media sometimes make it seem that the only thing that matters is winning, but that’s not true.
Sometimes on a warm winter day, it’s important to look up at the trees and the blue sky and take a deep breath ignoring the political machinations vying for control of our lives for a moment. What matters is living and doing our best to help those around us do the same.
Teri Kanefield – The Dangers of Lies and Simplifications