The following essay is by Michael Andrade, a friend who sent it to my wife as a Facebook message. It was powerful enough that she read it to me and I thought it was a perfect piece to run today on Martin Luther King Day, particularly as we approach the one year anniversary of Donald Trump taking office as the 45th President of the United States.
Michael’s essay isn’t a prescriptive roadmap for us to follow. Rather, it’s an observation of where we are today and an acknowledgement that nothing could have prepared us for this. We simply have to use our personal moral compasses to guide in uncertain times and in an uncertain landscape.
On the direction of a longtime friend, my wife and I went to see the film The Post last night. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I even had tears for the first time that I can remember in the last couple years, anyway. There were so many things that resonated — and still are resonating today. It’s not pretty, it’s complicated, and it feels chaotic and disorganized, but we’re coddiwompling our way, aren’t we?
I think Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes unlocked something for me and a lot of my friends and family… and so did this movie… and so has the replenishing realization of the New Year, noticing the mile marker and realizing we’ve survived, we’ve endured, and we’ve still got fight left.
When we got home, we watched David Letterman’s interview with Barack Obama on Netflix, and I was gilded and emboldened anew. I wanted to recommend it to the friend who had recommended the movie to me. Which then ended up giving birth to this piece of writing.
Photo by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog
Today we pay homage to a great American, a great leader, a great social movement, and the difference is has made. We get confused, I think, by trying to measure the impact and affect of our political and social efforts and demonstrations, and meter or analyze media depictions and criticism of our work. But then, as I was reminded of the quote that Meryl Streep delivered in the movie: “The news is the first rough draft of history.” And history takes perspective, and perspective takes time.
I can remember when I was attending Grinnell College in Iowa during the late 1980s and had begun transforming my own self away from my racist past. I had heard the campus African American students tell their stories and been moved by their courage and bravery. I had learned how to be active politically and I caucused for Jesse Jackson. And yet my friends and I were still encapsulated.
We had no idea about right now. We knew nothing of the internet. We knew nothing about domestic terrorism on American soil. The Clintons weren’t on my radar at all. I had only voted for one presidential candidate and he had lost. There was an innocence about not having heard my country’s rhetoric as it ramped up towards war. Our country had never bombed Iraq. And there were a number of other things that I had no idea about, no expectation of. How could my preparations for the future have any possibility of correctly predicting what I should do to insure a positive outcome?
It’s amazing to me how much we think we know, and how much we actually haven’t even thought of.