I am going to try to be honest and accurate and even-handed where I can. So I will start from my own personal context: This presidential election did not go as I wished it to go. From the beginning I was a Hilary Clinton supporter. I made calls for her. I drove from my state, New York, where she was assured of winning, to Pennsylvania, where she wasn't, to volunteer for her campaign. I walked door to door. And then she lost.
That's one part.
Certainly, I've worked for candidates who have lost before, and it's always painful to some degree, but I have (in the past) moved on fairly smoothly. But this time, well, like I said, my state is New York. My city is New York, too. And I knew too much, for too long, about the other candidate. He's been an unpleasant feature of this city for a long, long time. Add to that his campaign. I was already a supporter of the other side. But on top of policies I disagreed with, the campaign piled racism, xenophobia, misogyny, his mockery of a disabled reporter—all of it, for so many months, and it is still bitter in my mouth.
Yesterday I got a call from the drugstore where I rent a mailbox to receive packages and snail mail for this blog, saying I had a package. Usually this means a new book for me to consider writing about, so when Aragorn Son of Arathorn brought it home, I was happy.
And then I opened it.
Oh wait, did you notice?
Yes, I looked. I had to look.
I know kids need to learn about this stuff. Somehow. But it was painful to see her there. It was—is—painful to wonder how they were planning to grapple changing the name from "America's First Ladies" for Bill Clinton, and then they didn't have to. I know this is the least of it—the least of everything. I know that it's been reported that Ivanka Trump is officially going to be occupying the first lady's traditional East Wing offices. I know that in ways I can't fully understand, this was how people felt about President Obama. Still, it is painful.
Meanwhile, I am re-re-re-reading Master and Commander, and it is taking me off somewhere else. Aragorn has found comfort in the darkest of fiction, lots of Kafka and The Plague in Shakespeare's London. It is, somewhere, my belief that the only way through things like this is to overdose on empathy, to get a firm and clear-eyed grip on everyone's humanity. I have not figured out my way there yet.
I hope you all—every one of you—is reading something wonderful.
6 thoughts on “Politics, Children’s Books, and Me (or I? Hard to say, as it’s not really a sentence…)”
I just posted grades today. I have a stack of books to read. And a backlog of articles, most of which are about the unfortunate election. I agree that this one is different. I usually am blissfully non-politic-ish. I vote and that is about it. This election has me worried and scared–for the future of our democracy, my (very diverse) student population, and for my children’s future (particularly my daughters’ future).
I have to get my Christmas duties done, but then I hope to read a book for MYSELF. I hope. Knowing full well I won’t have time. Ugh.
I’m reading this post one month after you wrote it, and things seem even bleaker as far as THAT goes, right?
I’m trying to read but finding myself more distracted than I have ever been in my life. This, to me, is proof of the enormity of the clusterfuck we find ourselves in. Reading has always been, quite literally, the only constant in my life, and if I’m having a hard time doing it now — well — there’s a reason.
I share your bleak mood, over here in Norway. My seven-year old daughter came to me after the election and told me that several of the children at school spoke of World War Three coming. I tried to reassure her that this would not happen – but it’s hard to be reassuring, these days, when we’re all trembling and wondering what will happen next.
In the meantime, I read Montaigne’s “Essays”. He too lived in what he considered to be terrible times,and I can’t say that I disagree with him. It’s good to hear his clear, wise voice. Oh, and Diana Henry’s cookbook ” A change of appetite.” Very comforting.
Yes! Montaigne is weirdly reassuring right now. All evidence that times can be terrible, and that doesnt mean panic is the only option.
Yes, but it also feels like yet another loss, one that cant really be borne.
Here it is February, and things are still terrible. I have been taking refuge in YA fantasy novels, where I had planned to be reading the Anthony Trollope Palliser books, but I can’t do it…