The optimist within me must believe that hundreds of years into the future, and all over the globe, nobody will ever read that first statement and have to wonder who that president might have been. Hope believes that this behavior from the Oval Office will be confined to the years of the Donald…Shouldn’t we be able to believe that?
If we imagine time and politics as a pendulum swinging, surely it is safe to say that we are witness to the apex of the swing, suspended for a moment in mid-air, suspended in what feels like an eternity (but is really just a blip in the vastness of time) before swinging hundreds or thousands of years in a new direction.
This belief won’t do though.
The pendulum moves back-and-forth on one plane. Our hope cannot doom us to more of what we have already experienced and recorded throughout history, traversing the same pathway of thought and behavior over and over again. Even a 360 pendulum doesn’t quite work to visually represent what is next or what is possible—good God, moving from one plane to a 360 degree scope is too, too frightening for my little brain to handle. (The mental image of the 360 pendulum is an amusement park ride designed, probably, to make you want to vomit…so, I suppose, that part is apt.) When I was 16 (the age Greta Thunberg is now), I never would have imagined the POTUS bullying a child like me. Never. If this is now possible on a limited trajectory, what happens when we open up more lanes to travel?
When I was sixteen-years-old I had my first child. And I can tell you (now) that I was, very much, a child myself. Regardless of my intelligence or potential or drive…sixteen-years-old is a baby in the world. In this moment, I am jealous of Greta’s superpower, allowing her to take the mockery of the “most powerful man in the world in stride ;” my sixteen-year-old skin, tough as I believed I was, would never have survived it.
So what do we do when the landscape changes? (And let’s be clear, poor behavior from people in power is no surprise occurrence, but…) How do we stay vigilantly hopeful or proactively kind? How do we teach our children to be thick-skinned and sensitive—able to fully feel and fully respond to the needs of the day. How do we model this for them? How can we move through moments that are so ugly and not be deactivated by the humiliation?
In short, how do I be more Greta today?