There are a lot of variations on “those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it.” My response has always been, “Those of us who do study the past are doomed, too. We just feel worse about it.”

We are living in a country that past presidents warned against. We have institutionalized the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower predicted. We have the “unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics” that Teddy Roosevelt railed against. We have a Supreme Court that has ruled that money is the same as speech and that corporations are people.

Gotta admit: I might have picked the wrong time to go off Zoloft.

So, I’m doing a lot of needlepoint while watching baseball or cooking shows. I’ve slowly turned an almost-barren acre of suburban lawn into a haven of perennials, shrubbery, and trees that supports a glorious variety of birds and is regularly visited by a herd of deer that doesn’t do too much damage, now that we’ve worked out a truce.

I also clean closets and organize kitchen storage. I think the KonMari movement may well have something to do with so many of us feeling that we have no control over the wider world, but by God, when the collapse of society arrives, there won’t be any crap in my closet.

I still give the first hours of every day to writing. The revised ms. for  Unremembered Lives went to the publisher two days ago and will be out in 2019. Took me four years rather than the three I typically needed to complete a novel, but I used to have four good hours when I could think clearly and focus effectively. I’m a little old lady now and two hours is evidently the best I can do. I’ve begun work on Corpus Christi. Don’t nag. I’m working as fast as I can.

All that said, I’ve never been more politically active — not even when I was young during the anti-war movement and the civil rights movement. I’ve been a registered voter since I was 21. I’ve voted in every single election at every level of government since then. I’ve sent money to campaigns. I’ve done all kinds of things you can do without much time or effort, while getting a Ph.D., raising a kid, and running a household.

After January, 2018, that simply wasn’t enough.

I now spend at least half of every day running a Facebook page with 6500+ followers, posting Get Out The Vote strategies, news updates, and snarky memes that crystallize reactions to the news so we aren’t all left gasping and bewildered by the daily tsunami of previously unthinkable statements and events.

I have never actually worked in person for a candidate, but I am now part of Betsy Rader’s campaign to represent Ohio’s 14th congressional district. Betsy is a superb candidate and she has a real chance of flipping a district that went for Trump two years ago. I’ll be holding a fund-raiser for her on August 1st.

A great deal depends on Robert Mueller’s investigation and on the November 6 election. And then there’s the 2020 election. I am braced for what I consider the worst outcome. Nixon was reelected. W was reelected. There’s a real possibility that this president, too, will get an additional four years to do incalculable damage to lives and institutions I cherish.

Nonetheless: there is solace in knowing I am just one of millions and millions and millions of citizens who have been galvanized by events and personalities we consider deeply threatening to American democracy. We are determined to resist, to add friction, to block, to subvert, to sue, to boycott, to demonstrate, to organize and to mobilize — and we will persist, for however long it takes.




24 thoughts on “Coping.”

  1. Thank you for this. Just yesterday, I was thinking I need to re-read A Thread of Grace. It’s good to think about what “normal” people can do.

  2. Thank you for what you write and for all you’re doing. I need all the encouragement I can get these days. (We ALL do!) Such dark times…

    Your commitment and presence, both here and on Facebook, are a blessing.

  3. Just finishing John Meacham’s new book,The Soul of America. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. His thesis is that even in the worst of times–the growth of the KKK in the ’20’s, the Lindbergh, Father Coughlin, Gerald L.K. Smith America First movement of the ’30’s, The McCarthy era of the 50’s, we somehow manage to muddle through ,surviving our demagogues. I wish I could be as optimistic but the Trump era and what it portends for our future makes me have my doubts.

  4. It’s funny. I used to think that liberals must not know their history or they would see why they are wrong, that they just want to repeat historical mistakes. But now I realize that liberals and conservatives see history differently, or they must at least pick and choose the parts they want to remember.

    I don’t want to nag, but I am soooo anxious for UNREMEMBERED LIVES. And I’m glad to hear that, even though you are a “little old lady,” you are at work on another book.

    Also, it’s good for both liberals and conservatives to be politically active. We need to be sure all politicians are representing us and our beliefs. But, at the same time, it is wrong for anyone to spread lies about a politician, which I’ve seen too much of on Facebook and TV.

  5. To borrow a phrase, “You go, girl.”. We need intelligent, diligent, and courageous people speaking out and resisting politic’s worse impulses. I continue to write, support, and pray for an epiphany, one that will change the current self-serving path of not only leaders but also those blindly following.

  6. Yes, it is all true, this time of Kali Yuga makes all of life more difficult but we must struggle on, doing what we can to add something positive.

  7. Thank you for all your good works in the world. It always makes me feel a little better knowing one of my favorite authors is as infuriated and aghast as I am at the state of our country.

  8. Starting with “A Thread of Grace”, I’ve waited for and have read all
    your books. Keep it up. I am of like mind and hopefully there are many others. (Oregon)

  9. WHERE ARE THE GIRLS?? Visuals and reports of visits to the CCCs (Child Concentration Camps, as I call them) show or mention only boys. WHERE ARE THE GIRLS? is my current top priority issue, as no one seems to know, and darned few to care.

  10. You’re not alone, Mary. Many of us are reacting the way you are. And I hope that’ll be enough to turn things around or at least outlast the craziness of this time. Hang in there!

  11. I think we all must come back to what is important for the future: our children, healthcare for all, protecting the environment, and honoring every human being. I told my children, it is kindness and understanding. I am also becoming an activist. Started with the Women’s March in Washington and progressing from there. We can no longer be still…may be one good thing that has come out of the election. There is hope.

  12. The Trump election was a result of an incompetent, obsolete political system that should have been revised at least three or four times by now and a timid, uneducated voting public. Americans are the most timid/conservative people in the industrialized world and our fear of change is not going to result in a pretty future. Every Trump voter I talked to before and after the election said more or less the same thing, “I’m tired of everyone else doing better than me.” They didn’t vote Trump out of patriotism or from some half-witted attempt to MAGA, they voted to drag the country down to their level.

  13. I don’t believe that marches and protest movements will affect this administration at all. Peaceful protests will do nothing. We must remove this government as quickly as we can, before the insanity it perpetuates daily becomes accepted as normal happenstance. Fight illegitimate power with an equal measure of consciousness and strength. America today is what Germany was in early 1930’s. Cut this cancer out before it metastasizes further. Never again!

  14. I’m right there with you. I CANNOT believe that we are going down the path to Nazi-ism, after the millions of lives that were taken by the same hatred and lunacy that is being forced down our throats now. I truly despair for my daughter and my grandchildren. I never thought I’d see something worse than Vietnam. I was wrong.

  15. We have a terrible toxic cancer in this country! It is systemic and getting worse. The Donald’s election is just the latest symptom, and a bad one.

  16. All politics is local. That’s where your vote really counts. Use it! What offends me far worse that the nut-job in the President’s office are the smarter people around him who are content to use this nut-job for their own selfish gain, and the lazy-ass elected officials on the Hill who are pandering to the lowest common denominator. Too many are too out of touch with whom they represent–wait a minute, they don’t represent us, they represent corporations and lobbies! Silly me.

  17. It’s heartening to read comments from so many who share the frustration and sorrow of this terrible time that has come upon our country. I’m here in NM trying to do my best as well. I’ve just rediscovered your books; my husband and I both loved The Sparrow and others, but I need to catch up! Maybe I’ll be able to do that before Unremembered Lives comes out.

  18. Regarding “Coping”: Brilliant observations! Been living as Expat in Australia for 11 years (my second opportunity to live and work abroad) and whenever anyone has asked me to “explain things” in the USA (when we first arrived, it was “Dubya” — the last year and a half, Trump), I have always pointed out that things have been noticeably on the decline since the Reagan Administration (going as far back as the McCarthy years, etc., is too much for a quick talk). After Ronnie Raygun was elected, and education to a backseat to (needless) military spending, and Big Religion (mostly Christian) was afforded a stage and a hand in National Politics, and more and more Conservative (often Alt-right) Politicians gained popularity, it was all downhill from there. (Clinton — a moderate — was a speedbump at best; and Obama — a left-leaning moderate or centrist — was what could have been, had we wisely done away with the electoral college system ages ago).

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