I have to admit I don’t really know what’s going on here. I’m pretty sure this isn’t how you raised me.
I was a child in the sixties and learned then that America is a melting pot, which is her strength. We welcome all cultures and people, blending them all into a happy productive stew that makes us better. At least, that’s what you told me in my formative years.
I grew up in a time when the country was literally on fire about multiple things. The war in Vietnam, civil rights, women’s rights (why those are two different things, I’m not sure)… And you taught me that protesting was our right as American citizens. We burned all kinds of stuff – bras, flags, cars, draft cards – and, while you denounced it occasionally and sometimes we crossed the line, you also taught us that sometimes flames provide not just heat, but light as well.
You also taught me that raising your voice in protest mattered and could make a difference. We sat in, walked out, marched and chanted. And we made a difference. We taught each other that peaceful co-existence is not the same as equal co-existence. We learned that the world is a better place if you have both…
I thought the last decade was us fulfilling what you taught us. As adults, we held the values you taught us as children near to our hearts and tried to live by them. We felt confident in our dismissal of, and disgust for, people like Stephen Bannon and the Westboro Baptist Church. We felt sure that you, America, in your heart as a country, were proud of our understanding and embrace of your values.
I am suddenly, in my mid-fifties, a heartbroken child. Either I didn’t understand you or I missed the part where you were trying to teach me something different. I missed the part where you announced that you didn’t love your children equally, that some of us got it wrong.
I don’t really know how to live without your love, America. I love you deeply so I’m shattered by the thought that you don’t love me back. Tell me what to do now.