It’s just plain weird, y’all.
It feels like the U.S. is heating up to American Civil War 2 right now, and at the rate we’re headed I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re full on Hunger Games by this time next year.
Meanwhile, Monday morning I stepped into my home office, still working from home under the looming pandemic, and sipped a lukewarm cup of coffee. “Everything is fine,” I consoled my wandering mind, pulling on my noise cancelling headphones to block out the sirens and helicopter that has made its home above my apartment. Totally fine.
The following 8 hours felt awkward. All of the motions were familiar. Truth be told, I got a decent amount of work done. But I left work feeling numb.
Nothing is quite like leaving a place where you tune out the rest of the world only to move into another where you have to explain to your mom or kids why they can’t go outside tonight.
I admit I feel particularly disconcerted as the spawn of my half-black, half-native dad and my white mom. I pass as “just white enough” in the office, and “not black enough” out of it.
On the daily, I am yanked between normalcy and revolution. I am saturated in the juxtaposition of cathartic tedium and watching my communities burn. As I watch my code compile, dark questions nibble at the chinks in a professional wall I’ve put up. Will we be a democracy in 6 months, will the world be at war, do we survive COVID-19, make economic recovery, come together against climate change, defeat the many systemic ‘ism’s prevalent in society? A flashing cursor on my black terminal tells me my code is ready, and I snap out of it. I don’t have time to entertain the thoughts, and pack them away in a neat folder of other maladies haunting my sleep.
How are we supposed to work politely, efficiently, professionally when the cracks in our society are opening up? What do we do if things get worse, if lava and Nazi zombies carrying a mutated COVID-19 start pouring out of those cracks?
If hostile, interstellar aliens are next month’s twist of fate on the 2020 Apocalypse calendar, should I use my vacation days now or wait until I finish this project?
Perhaps capitalism doesn’t have a clear response to existential threats, or if it does, it feels counter intuitive to whatever primal instinct is telling me to act like there’s an emergency instead of a deadline.
Part of what is so damning is the feeling that there is no direction from leadership — not within my job, but from the country. While all of this is going on, I yearn for a president that makes me feel like the situation is being taken seriously, not underestimated, not ignored, one who encourages uniting over our collective humanity. Obama, while not a perfect president, at least made the tumultuous moments feel clearer. Trump’s response has been claustrophobic and childish, at best, from the beginning. At worst, they’ve been divisive and opaque. They make you feel unsure as to what’s to come, uneasy at the flow of events.
For instance, he recently said in regard to the protests against police brutality,
If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.
That doesn’t make me feel like the situation is under control. It makes me fear for Democracy. It reeks of only caring about residents that fall into his predefined status quo.
George Will writes regarding President Trump,
This unraveling presidency began with the Crybaby-in-Chief banging his spoon on his highchair tray to protest a photograph — a photograph — showing that his inauguration crowd the day before had been smaller than the one four years previous. Since then, this weak person’s idea of a strong person, this chest-pounding advertisement of his own gnawing insecurities, this low-rent Lear raging on his Twitter-heath has proven that the phrase malignant buffoon is not an oxymoron.
On the other hand, Obama inspires us to make progress out of the worst of times,
I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.
My point is that the rhythm of this country feels off, and it’s hard to sit here in my home office, quarantined to the fickle comfort of compulsory Netflix binges, and pretend that disruption is far away.
Don’t get me wrong — I love my work, and I’m holding firm to the hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. These are, however, mighty weird times for the average 9–5.