The Opposite of Despair is Perserverance
this is a response to a piece by Joy Reid
So, Joy, here’s the thing: I cannot let the turkey currently occupying the White House get my ass down. And frankly, neither can anyone else. Ok, go ahead, feel bad, cry in your beer, polish off that expensive bottle of white wine or rot gut all by your sad lonely self. While you’re at it, pass me that box of Belgian Chocolate Ice Cream Bars, yes, that’s right, I am gonna eat all of those suckers, all by myself. Now that you mention it, give me that box of Godiva chocolates too. I, mean, if you are going to have a pity party, by all means, stop at nothing to indulge you worst instincts and urges and go all up against whatever it is your doctor thinks you should not do.
But consider this, when you’re half-way to the bottom of that ice cream container, or bottle of wine or six cans into the dozen cans of expensive beer. You know the point I’m describing, half in the bag and still not in deep enough. You know the point: when there are still some unopened chocolate ice cream bars, and they probably need to go back in the freezer for a bit. I ask you, in this moment, to consider, have you now had enough? Not that I’m telling you to stop. Just give it all a break for a bit.
And consider this story:
Like a lot of children who are, well, other, I got to a point where reading the books in the library began to feel, well, uncomfortable. It was at that point that I discovered science fiction and fantasy writers: Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, and a wonderful little book by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time. Meg, the hero, was not a nice little girl. She was feisty and angry and protective of her odd baby brother, Charles Wallace. When we meet Meg, she’s in trouble at school because she has gone after the bullies who were picking on Charles Wallace. The school staff aren’t happy with Meg. They are of the opinion that her behavior is the result of having a scientist for a mother and a father who is missing in action, reportedly off on some super secret mission. Most likely though, just gone. Meg doesn’t get much support at home either, her twin brothers, the middle kids of the family, take the position that as the boys, they should be responsible for protecting weird little Charles Wallace. Meg’s mother, also a Dr. Murry, is just exhausted and tired and lonely. She’s got four kids, a career, and an MIA husband. She was like a lot of the single mothers who would soon populate the landscape of American family life.
I did not have a weird baby brother, but I did have a baby brother. My parents were together but they both had careers. I was, at 10, used to having people have expectations of me, whether I wanted them or not.
In a Wrinkle In Time, L’Engle gave all children, but particularly girls, a different kind of female character. A young hero, on a quest with three fantastical female guardian/helpers. Meg’s quest is to accompany her brother as they go on a fantastic journey to rescue their father. In archetypal terms, the young feminine is supported in her journey by aspects of the Wise Woman, on a journey to redeem the masculine in the form of both her father and young Charles Wallace. If you have not read the book, I won’t reveal any spoilers. I will say it is a wonderful story that clearly gave refuge and hope to millions of children, well before J.K. Rowling imagined a boy in glasses with a jagged scar on his forehead.
Never in my wildest dreams (even more wild than an African American President), would I have imagined that A Wrinkle in Time would become a major film directed by Black woman with a multi-racial Murry family. I mean, who thinks of this stuff as a kid? The new feature film version of A Wrinkle in Time will be released in March 2018. I plan to see it in IMAX format on the first night. Yeah, I feel that strongly about needing to see one of my wildest dreams on screen.
So here’s my point: after eight months, The Drumpf hasn’t gotten all of us killed, yet. If you are into Game Of Thrones, in the first or second episode of Season 7, there is a scene where Jim Broadbent as the senior Maester of the Citadel of Westerosi learning gives Samwell (not unlike Samwise) “The Speech”: Every winter has been followed by summer. I tend to think that George R.R. Martin wrote that scene in November 2016.
Yes, we can collapse in despair. Or, we can take a break, regroup, gather our strength, gain new allies, learn to use new weapons, and not only defend our ground but take new territory as well. I have three friends who are the mothers of children with special needs. They don’t quit because they cannot quit: not when someone has broken their heart, or when their own parents are sick or dying, or even when their own health is failing. Most of us have a woman like this in our life. Spend a day with one of them, and then consider, are you really weary?
One more thing: now that you’re putting a cap on the wine, wrapping of the chocolate, putting the rest of the ice cream back in the freezer, the enemy wants you to feel sorry for yourself. The bad guys don’t need to shoot you if you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Scream, yell, bay at the moon, throw rocks in the water. Fall asleep on top of a hill in the middle of the night. Wake up to see the Milky Way or the Big Dipper cinemascope huge against the early morning sky. Watch the sun rise. Now, get back in the fight.