Editor’s note: I once had a couple of million regular readers, but I sense those numbers are down by a few hundred thousand, thanks in part to my recent stream of politically charged material. I just can’t seem to help myself, so I’ve decided to seek some outside assistance. Voices is a new occasional series in which writers express their feelings in the wake of the presidential election and what many perceive to be a drastic change in course for America, and not for the better. Today, the view from across the pond.
By LIZZIE CARVER
For many Americans, the morning after your election was probably exactly how I felt following the Brexit vote.
My personal Facebook page is now full of political articles, and only about half a dozen of my “friends” ever like or comment on them. Post a picture of a sloth having a bath and the others are all over it — their relief at my briefly shutting up quite palpable.
The first image that flashed into my mind on Friday 24 June was of shrunken men looking through the wire of a concentration camp and it astonishes me how many people cannot or will not see the direction of travel. Last Wednesday I went into town and my heart was full of a great tenderness towards all the people I encountered — the elderly lady with her walker, mums with pushchairs; young and old, I just wanted to gather us all in and protect us all with a great love.
I truly believe we are moving headlong into a “mass extinction event,” as the historians and scientists say (in order to distance themselves from the reality). Of course, if you live in Syria or Yemen, it’s already in full swing.
I have been gobsmacked by how many people appear to want to ignore an inconvenient or disturbing reality and just focus on the pink and fluffy. Some have actively tried to shut my feelings down, saying variations of, “That’s enough, now stop, because you’re making me uncomfortable!”
But I have not been able to shut it down, no matter how uncomfortable it’s made me or anyone else! Instead, I have tried to look reality in the eye, and at the same time, to work out what the hell to actually DO that might make a difference. And, yes, so much anger, so much powerlessness and sense of disconnection from those around me.
Following your election, oddly, I feel less frantic — as if my view of what is unfolding has been confirmed and it has been a sad comfort to read posts that express exactly how I felt then and feel now. But I am even more determined to show love and compassion where I can, and to lobby wherever possible for a better world. I know there are politicians in the UK who are as appalled as I am, but there is so much infighting, and many haven’t yet reached the point of putting aside their own interests for the greater good.
I feel so sad that we were living in what now looks like a “Golden Age” (echoes of Edwardian Britain?) and we broke it for our children and our children’s children. The poor and vulnerable are in for a tough time, and none of us is as strong and insulated from harm as we may like to believe. My friends of colour tell me that this has all only come as a shock to white liberals — to them, it is all wearily familiar and never went away.
I have no ready answers for your country or for mine — just that as an individual, I will do my best to act on those feelings of tenderness and behave in a decent way to everyone. It is hard to find forgiveness for those whose votes have unleashed this on our world, but holding them to be a despised “Other” makes me not much better than those who voted against different varieties of “Other.” It’s tricky! Hence choose love, wherever possible. The Dalai Lama says it is always possible — I am not that saintly but I will do my best.
With very best wishes,