“Confront the Culture of Power with the Power of Culture”- Lowkey, Death of Neo-Liberalism.
The anguish I felt when Trump became president is hard to put into words. It wasn’t, as some assume, a matter of not getting to pat myself on the back and feel like part of the ‘winner’s’ club. As it was for many of my brothers and sisters, this change of administration signaled a shift in our sense of personal security. We felt directly under threat because in some way this man’s words had dismissed or directly attacked us as individuals. As a person with a brain injury it was infuriating to hear him mock a disabled reporter for not recalling details. Though this was nothing compared to how it felt to hear this man brag about feeling entitled to sexually assault women.
For months after the election I tried to remain grounded, knowing on some level that this is a catalyst for change, an eruption of wounds to the surface for healing.
America’s Tower Card
The Tower, one of the Major Arcana cards from the Tarot, signifies the overhaul of familiar structures. Shaking us to the core, causing us to see through our illusions and build a rebuild in the name of progress.
But I don’t like change and I hate seeing that damn Tower Card.
Not only did I feel fear as inauguration day approached, but I also felt completely alone. Whether Trump ever builds a wall on the Mexican border, his election and the events that follow seemed to shine a spotlight on a wall that I hadn’t realized had been built through the middle of my home.
In 2017, a friend and I went to the march in the city. I didn’t know what to expect and had been discouraged from attending by my then partner who had seen the images on the news from the inauguration protests.
“People are rioting in the streets, you’re going to die, you’re crazy to go do this thing…”
I figured I didn’t have much to lose.
For weeks I had felt sick, depressed and miserable. I could barely focus on work and had developed a strange fascination with Jesus Christ Superstar. Instead of Jesus and Judas, I imagined Bernie Sanders singing Gethsemane.
Just thought I would share that in case there was any doubt about the impact of the election on my mental health….
The Women’s March was a turning point. The crowd of women and men, elderly and young, from all walks of life, representing various groups represented one thing.
I remembered being in awe and feeling safe for the first time in months. These people who had come out in the cold in NY and around the country and around the world.
Perhaps things would be ok.
When I got home I wrote a blog expressing gratitude to Trump for bringing out the solidarity, the activism and the consciousness that had been dormant for too long in this country.
You could say he brought out this spirit bigly.
As has become fashionable in the past century or so, the forces of divide and conquer were alive well and at work to underscore the credibility of those who participated in marches world wide. Those who did not attend, who only saw a few photos of signs expressing anger would have no way to know the energy of celebration and hope that filled the air as people filled the streets. Would have no idea the impact of unity, of all the intersecting groups of people coming together, and of some people becoming active for the first time in their lives. I can only describe it and hope to be believed.
A picture may paint a thousand words, but one picture of one moment out of millions can’t begin to capture the essence of a movement.
And here we are a year later. There has been much fuel for despair yet at the same time, an increased number of women are running for office. I have seen friends become activists and have been awakened suffering of my sisters and brothers I was not aware of before. We have been subjected to an onslaught of absurdity but have also seen those in power channel their resources to combat bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia. We have felt the shock waves of the Tower continuing to rip through the fabric of our illusions. We have heard our sisters and brothers speak up about sexual assault and harassment, institutionalized racism and corruption. I have seen friends become activists and run for office and heard them speak up and tell their stories.
If the Tower brings us to our knees, what then gives us the energy to move forward? What illuminates our path in our darkest times?
In the Tarot The Star is one of the signposts of hope and illumination. It represents the light at the end of the tunnel, the ideals we strive for.
Unlike the Sun, which is the attainment of success, The Star is reachable, eventually.
After the march this year I went to visit a friend who was dancing in a recital. The theme of the show was Songs of the Silver Screen. My friend, Helen Rosen, selected a song from Wonder Woman. She envisioned the choreography and learned a routine created by her instructors and performed with two men. She, like all of the adult students who performed that night, women and men who decided that age, shape, size, past experience, would not prohibit them from expressing themselves through dance, gave a brilliant performance. As I watched the performance, and particularly Helen’s performance, I was reminded of the power of all of the arts to heal, integrate, and represent our ideals.
Every day, sometimes all day, we are reminded of the horrors, the suffering and the sacrifices, the injustices and the atrocities. But here was a reminder of the best of what and who we are.
To see Helen embody Wonder Woman sent a spark through the audience. I could feel the energy of those around me lift to meet what the dance stood for. The arts bring out the ideal- The Star- for all of us to strive for.
So this year it is my hope that we continue to come together, that we continue to reach for The Star- our ideals, the best we can be, and that we shine that light for others.