Saturday, November 12, 2016

Getting my Bearings in a Haze of Futures

Today, I happened to click on a tweet of someone I follow and discovered that he was a HUGE Trump supporter.  A banner photo of the president-elect standing proudly seared my vision as I got to his account’s homepage.   
In a knee-jerk reaction, I unfollowed him and went back to my own page.  
Right after doing that, I had second thoughts.  Part of the reason we are in the mess we made for ourselves is because everyone, on both sides of the fight, are tailoring their informational input to suit themselves.  Following channels and people that reinforce their worldview and beliefs rather than give them something to think about.  
So, I looked for this person on Twitter.  I remembered part of his Twitter account.  Twitter probably has algorithms that ID him as someone I might want to follow, since I followed him before.  I figured that it would be easy enough to find him.  
It was.  I went back to his account.  I looked at his tweets and postings.  Without re-following him, I went back to my home page, wondering why I ever came to follow someone whose worldview was so very different from mine in the first place. 
Actually, I know the answer to that.  He followed me over something I posted.  I saw that he was a writer and I followed him right back.  I’ve always seen my Twitter feed as being an extension of my writing efforts.  Any writer that follows me will automatically (now “almost” automatically) get followed right back.  I figure other writers are like distant cousins of sorts.  All of us trying to get the words we find in the dictionary arranged in the right order so the worlds in our brains will be visible to all.  
But clearly being in the same social gene pool doesn’t mean we have the same outlook.  Being in the same genetic gene pool doesn’t guarantee that, either.  I’m sure I have family members that voted differently that I did as well.  I can’t be sure since neither I, nor they, have spoken openly about it.  Probably for the same desire to not put too much of a strain on family ties than they can bear.
Pretty much everyone I would call friends voted for Clinton this election.  Some voted “For Hilary.”  Others voted “Against Trump.”  I’m in the later camp.  I can’t tell for sure the breakdown of everyone else, but right now it doesn’t matter much.  Both groups are dazed, confused, upset, depressed, scared or some combination of those things.  We’re all in the “OMG!  What Just Happened?” camp.  
At work I know a couple of people who voted for Trump.  I ignore this fact and continue to work with them.  One I don’t get along with very well, but I felt that way before their political views became known to me.  That discovery didn’t alter how I felt, nor changed the way we work together.    
The other is a close colleague of mine.  Someone I enjoy talking to.  She’s a citizen now, though she’s originally a Russian from Kazakstan.  Trump has a way with Russians, I guess, from their president, to his wives, on down.  Again, I ignore her political beliefs, work with her and talk about other things.  I’ve not spoken to her a lot this week.  Not unless it was work related.  
I did say one thing to her.  After checking on something with her, I stopped at the door to her office and turned around toward her.  She was already engaged with her emails.  
“So…  How long do you think it’ll be before we all break down into civil war?”  
“Eh?”  She shook her head as her fingers continued to type.  “What…?”  She took her eyes off her screen and looked up at me.  
“Never mind.”  I turned around and left.  “Forget it,” I said as I walked through her department.  It was a dumb question, motivated by some dark feeling that slipped through my filters before I had a chance to consider it.  She didn’t ask me about it again when we interacted later in the day, so I guess she took my suggestion to forget it.  
I’ve been feeling for a while that the future was getting grayer.  Less full of sweetness and light.  With my sister’s cancer in resurgence, for the third time now, things at work becoming more difficult and unsettled, and my increasing awareness that I’m well into the second half of life, I’ve been feeling that there is less future out there ahead of me that I’ve been wont to think of it before, and that it has less to look forward to than I might hope.  The election of someone I believe is completely unqualified to hold the office that almost half the nation voted him into has only darkened my mood.  
But, I have things to do, assignments to finish, achievements I’m still working toward.  A future that still needs facing.  
The question for me is, which one?  The hunker down, go to ground, become an insurgent in word and thought future.  The sit still, keep my mouth shut and hope the Deportation Squad doesn’t mistake me for someone from somewhere else?  Or the healing, understanding, be a force for love and good, peaceful warrior that will give safe haven to all that need it?  
Or none of the above.  Or, some combination of them.  I don’t know.  

What I think I do know, though, is that I ought to keep my eyes and ears open, and listen to what everyone else is saying, even if I think it’s vile, self-promoting, bigoted garbage.  If I only listen to what I want to hear, I might find myself just as surprised by events as everyone was this last Tuesday.  


Blogger slcard said...

I'm so sorry about your sister, Erick. I didn't know. May she win this third battle and claim the war.

It seems like a gloomy time for all of us. I feel it too. It has me waking in the night unable to get back to sleep.

Like you, I want to unfollow/unfriend everyone who posts something nasty in my feed, but instead I try to comment on it, to point out another view. It's exhausting, but I can't let them go unchecked. The world feels like it's on a tipping point right now and I want to pile up the points for compassion and understanding before selfishness and hatred drops us all into despair.

I'll be thinking of ya, buddy. And if you ever need anything I can help with, never ever hesitate to call on me. We're cousins, after all. :)

November 13, 2016 at 2:21 AM  
Blogger Erick Melton said...

Hey, Sara:

Thanks for the comment. I didn't notice it until I went online to day to update my blog. I don't get a lot of comments so I've stopped checking as often.

I agree with everything you say. My worst imagines of what could happen in the future seem to be all too plausible. I've started questioning whether or not I'll have the resolution if they come to pass. Even worse, I sometimes wonder if, for me personally, if things are fine, or if I even find myself thriving while others suffer, will I have the strength of character to not turn away and stand up for them.

Thank you for your kind thoughts. In away, I'm glad I didn't find them until Christmas.


December 25, 2016 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Githoniel said...

Hello, Erick!

Remember me? We met in Mr. Clifton's class in 1974. I have followed your blog for some years now.

How are you doing?

Thanks for your recent comment saying that I knew something about politics.

So, you too are conscious of the road behind being longer than the road ahead---(with about a 99%+ level of certitude, anyways).

I tried to comment in the past, but it never worked. I doubt if it will this time. Here goes...

February 23, 2017 at 1:31 AM  
Blogger Githoniel said...

Hello, Erick!
This is Glenn. How are you? Apparently you thought I knew something about politics way back when in the 1970s, judging by your recent comment. I have followed your blog for years. But, whenever I tried to leave a comment, something always went wrong.

Here is a nice thought: According to the Economist, the US President doesn't need to consult with or ask permission of any other human being in order to use the launch codes. The unmentionable one who managed to get elected (Thank you, Dead Hand of the 18th Century That Made the Electoral College System) last November is the first President I ever felt nervous about his possession of the launch codes.

Hilary Clinton was/is pro-abortion, so I couldn't be for her, but...

Anyhow, hope you receive this.

February 23, 2017 at 1:41 AM  
Blogger Githoniel said...

Sorry to hear about Virginia. I have prayed for her. I remember that she was there, with you and your mother, at my baptism.

February 23, 2017 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger Erick Melton said...

Hello, Glenn:

Of course I remember you. Forgetting you would entail forgetting my life from age 13 to... Sometime in college, I guess.

I'm alive. Trying to stay that way. Facing things as they come. Trying to keep dreaming. Trying to face reality.

What I appreciated about you when it came to politics was your willingness to stand up for what you believed. Even when it was a belief I didn't share, your courage to express your beliefs and do something about them was remarkable.

Sorry about any past comments. I've been struggling with my blog for some time now, trying to figure out what I'm trying to do with it, etc., and haven't checked for comments to moderate as often as I should. For some reason I spot the notifications for obvious spam efforts more readily than I do legitimate commentary.

May 29, 2017 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Erick Melton said...

The current POTUS makes me nervous for a whole slew of reasons, not the least that. I've come to believe that one of the surest signs of intelligence is self-doubt. Or at least, a willingness to challenge one's own deeply held beliefs. At a minimum to come up with proofs for whatever argument you intend on putting forth in whatever forum you are delivering it, be it scientific, political, personal or social.

The individual does none of that. Not only is he ignorant, he seems to wallow in it pridefully. Any thought that wanders through his mind is expressed as the way things are simply because he thought of it. And they all live comfortably together, even when the blatantly contradict each other.

There. That's my political harangue for the weekend.

May 29, 2017 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Erick Melton said...

Your concern is appreciated. Unfortunately, she is not doing very well right now.

She went into the hospital last week for a new round of chemotherapy. She has transferred her treatment to a doctor at Duke University in North Carolina, who works with a cancer treatment center there who disagreed with how her local doctor was handling it. He wanted to be more aggressive in trying to find a way to get rid of the tumors, versus the local doctor who was openly prescribing palliative care.

Unfortunately, the strength of the chemo medication has apparently caused the medication she takes for her schizophrenia to stop working. She went into a relapse, hearing voices and sounds not there. They ceased the chemotherapy to get her psychological state under control. I'm told she's getting better as of today. I'm concerned about how they can treat her cancer while ensuring her mental state remains stable.

May 29, 2017 at 1:52 PM  

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