Do you remember walking into a store and seeing smiles? Do you remember seeing shelves full of goods, more than you could ever want? Do you remember turning on the news and seeing actual stories, real reporting? Do you remember when people were respectful of the people in office, even if they disagreed with them? Do you remember when you thought your vote counted, even if the person for whom you voted didn’t win?
Do you remember when Twitter was full of silly pictures of animals, and Facebook was where you caught up with old friends?
Do you remember not being afraid? I lost some of that innocence when planes flew into buildings and some people did something. I lost more of it when I was told that I was to blame for every racial injustice ever done since my skin is white. I lost even more when Orange Man Bad became the mantra – when no one could answer my question as to how his policies had changed their lives for the worse.
I think it’s pretty much all gone now. I watched suitcases of ballots pulled from beneath a table in GA, vote counts suddenly switch in PA, and “news” media call an election before it was anywhere close to over.
I remember when people didn’t shame each other for disagreeing – when you could walk outside with the wind in your face and not be told you were selfish. I remember when Thanksgiving was a day to be grateful for all the bounty of this land, for the love of family and friends and for all the food we were going to eat together, even if Janet did try to delay the pie. I remember when statues were teaching tools – we taught the history of our country by touring battlefields and talking about monuments and viewing the wonders we had wrought. We were taught that our ancestors had treated the native Americans poorly, as they had treated the Japanese, so that we would learn to never act that way again, not so we would feel endless crushing joy sucking guilt over things we hadn’t done and couldn’t possibly undo.
I remember when we trusted our elected officials to do our will, and not try to impose their will on us. I remember when the idea that our rights would slowly be stripped from us and people would beg for more restrictions was something out of science fiction – that could never happen! And yet…………it has.
And while I remember, I wonder. How can we ever get back our joy, our freedom, our innocence? I wonder if I’m strong enough to face that test.