Ripple Effect

The sight of those men marching with lit torches – hundreds of men, many as young and clean-cut, it seemed to me, as my beloved grandson – spewing white supremacist and nazi hatefulness into the entire country and the world from the streets of a beautiful American city last weekend flattened me.

Even from this distance, here in the rolling, green central mountains Mexico, I was felled as if by a tidal wave by the horror of that scene. I’ve been sick in bed ever since. My head, heart, soul and guts ache. I can’t even eat.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said and is still being said by writers and journalists more qualified than I? Should I choose another, lighter, subject, better suited to some readers’ preferences? Sunshine and palm trees, perhaps? Hummingbirds and pussycats? Guacamole and tortilla chips?

I can’t.

So for the moment, until I regain my strength and everything I’m made of stops aching, I must remain silent. I don’t have words. This is a time, I think, to lean on poets’ wisdom, to allow the bits and pieces of poems I’d memorized when I was young, which have been swimming around in my subconscious all these years, to bubble up to the surface and come to the rescue.

Here’s one. It is a fragment from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Channel Crossing” that has helped me cross over many rough waters in the past and is helping me again now:

“…what better way to test taut fiber
Than against this onslaught, these casual blasts of ice
That wrestle with us like angels; the mere chance
Of making harbor through this racketing flux
Taunts us to valor. …”

 

 

17 thoughts on “Ripple Effect”

  1. First Trump came for the women
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a woman.
    Then Trump came for the people with disabilities
    And I did not speak out
    Because I did not have a disability.
    Then Trump came for the African Americans
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not African American.
    Then Trump came for the Mexicans
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not Mexican.
    Then Trump came for the Muslims
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not Muslim.
    Then Trump came for the gay, bi, and trans people
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not gay, bi or trans.*
    Then Trump came for the Jews
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then Trump came for the journalists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a journalist.
    -Gideon Lichfied

  2. Then Trump came for the judges
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a judge.
    And now Trump is coming for the Constitution of the United States
    And if I do not speak out, what am I?

  3. Sounds like some of us have been “taunted to valor.” I don’t know all of the details yet of the Boston rallies, but it sounds like thousands (as man as 20,000) counter-protesters stood against 100 members of the extreme right.

  4. Dearest Bon,

    I feel exactly as you do. This despicable event has been in my thoughts since it happened. Thankfully, the event here in Boston today was peaceful.

    America must have a respectful,thoughtful conversation about our race problem. Unfortunately, as people of color know, most white Americans are simply incapable of this conversation.

    All we can do is extend our arms in peace, tolerance, and acceptance. We must actually listen to and believe the opinions of people of color, and not assume white people are better judges of what that opinion should be. I recommend Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It is a book-length letter to his son that explains American race realities. He eloquently presents sophisticated issues and ideas in a manner that is comprehensible to a teenager. It’s eye-opening.

    Thank you for your blog, Bon. It is a voice that must be heard.

    Much love,
    Paul

    1. Dearest Paul — I’m extending my arms out to you — all the way from SMA, MX, to Boston, MA — in love and appreciation for our decades-old (young!) friendship. Thank you so much for your sensitive perspective and for the book recommendation. (Is it on your students’ reading list?) I’m putting it on my reading list right now. — Mucho love siempre, BB xx

  5. I got up last Sunday morning and wrote about the events of the previous day. As I wrote, I realized several things:

    There were hundreds of (mostly) men marching for hate. Hundreds, not thousands, showed up to unmask their ugliness. Not millions — as in the women’s marches around the world after our very lowercase president’s inauguration.

    The more I wrote, the more I realized that this was a dying gasp. Certainly, we can’t be surprised that these types of groups raised their heads to test the air for their hatred; but in the week since, they’ve discovered to their disappointment that there is no oxygen in this country for such intolerance. Look at how many fewer people showed up in Boston today. Wasn’t it something like 20? Both Saturdays, marchers’ chants were drowned out by the forces of tolerance. They are, and will be forever forward, shamed by their actions that day. Even if they don’t look ashamed right now, they are shamed.

    The day after that Saturday, the picture in my mind looked like an old black-and-white TV, when the image is breaking apart because the signal is fading. Even with trump in charge (for now), the signal is fading.

  6. Take heart from what happened in Boston yesterday. Some say as many as 40,000 peace marchers–many of them clergy. In the days before there were training sessions and the leadsrship worked closely with the Boston Police. The scum numbered less than 100 and arrived with their faces covered. Heather magnified!

    1. Yes, Suzanne, I think we all took heart from Boston yesterday. Yay, Boston! “Boston strong!” (I looked for your face in the crowd in the photos of the event I saw on FB, but couldn’t find you. I’m sure you were there!) 🙂 xx

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