This morning we wake up to a gloomier and more frightening world than we lived in yesterday, as the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reminds us that our basic rights are being held in a tight squeeze by the government, in which the very people we elected to represent our voice seem to care little about equality and justice. While our hearts are heavy with the loss of such an unwavering fighter for women’s rights, we hardly have time to grieve. I speculate that no one understood the weight of her death more than Justice Ginsburg herself, as she told family just a few days before she died, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
The closer we get to the 2020 election, the less it feels like it has anything to do with politics, and the more it feels like it has everything to do with humanity. Never before have I been so ashamed to be an American. I remember traveling to Israel when Donald Trump was first elected, and meeting people from Israel and Europe who wasted no time in telling me and my travel companions how hilarious it was the the great United States was being led by such an ill-equipped man. Even before we knew how bad it would get, our democracy was a laughingstock.
My husband is worried that writing about the election politicizes my blog, which trust me, is certainly not the intent. But when I am learning to show loving kindness toward myself and others as part of my recovery, advocating for the healthcare needs and support needs of people with mental illness, and trying really hard to bring a new, little soul into this world, I believe I have a responsibility to write about something that comes in direct conflict with these goals.
First of all, I am a woman. It should have ended when Trump said that because he was “a star,” he could “grab them by the pussy” whenever he wanted. While even Republicans of all kinds urged Trump to step out of the race after these comments came to the surface, Americans swooped behind him with signs and shirts reading “Trump that Bitch” and “Grab Em’ By the Pussy.” I was so disappointed that instead of being outraged by disrespect, these anti-feminist values were embraced by so many, and even used as an argument to vote for Trump. With the possibility of bringing a baby into this world and with becoming an aunt to an infant niece, my responsibility in this matter grows, and women’s rights have never been so important to me. And yet, we are not even talking about equality, but basic human rights for women. Respect and safety for women should not be something we are still fighting for! I cannot stand for a national leader who so publicly shames, belittles, and devalues women.
I am an occupational therapist. It is my job, my calling, to serve people with physical and cognitive disabilities. It should have ended with Trump blatantly mocking the physical disability of a reporter. Access to affordable healthcare and protection under the law is essential for all people with disabilities—physical, cognitive, psychological. And we are still fighting for basic human rights for people with disabilities and other minority groups. I just think we should be so much further along than this.
I am a believer in science, in the power and capacity of the human brain to study and research, and then use those results to inform decisions and actions. Issues like the response to COVID-19 and climate change depend on science to inform us. I depend on science to inform many of my decisions, big or small. Healthcare—medications and treatment approaches—improve because of science. I am afraid of a world where science is ignored.
And lastly, I have a mental illness. Many minority groups are at a greater risk for developing mental illness, such as those in the LGBTQ+ community. Trump repeatedly attributed mass shootings to mental illness, while completely ignoring the issue of gun violence. This perpetuates the stigma that suffocates so many of us. Research has shown that those with mental health diagnoses are no more likely to commit violent crimes than those who do not. Trump supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, which for the first time required insurance companies to cover mental health care. And he is working toward decreasing funds given to states for Medicaid, which serves many people with disabilities or low income. I live in fear of what will happen to my healthcare, and even more so the healthcare of those in lower socioeconomic groups who have a mental illness.
My most anxious self closes her eyes and sees Donald Trump winning another election, and our country turning into some deranged version of A Handmaid’s Tale—a world filled with hatred and intolerance. 2020 has been a polarizing and anxiety-inducing year for all of us, and with the election nearing, it is not likely to change. In an effort to practice being non-judgmental and open-minded, I have been doing my best to try to understand, or at least find a kernel of truth in all sides of these political issues. When it comes to issues that contend with humanity, justice, and equality, I dissent (my tribute to the notorious RBG!), but I can do so in a respectful way. If your views are anti-human (like white supremacy, for example), I strongly dissent with your views and question your character and values, but I can still try my very hardest to find that kernel of loving kindness. Maybe that person is a product of his/her environment or he/she has experienced a terrible hardship in life that has shaped these views. If we give into the culture of hate that is growing rampantly in our country, we are a part of the problem, not part of the solution. We are already polarized enough in this country. As we carry on surviving this year, please take care of yourself, show yourself loving kindness, and do your best to show others the same, no matter their views. When my head is filled with fear of the future for this country, I do my best to fill it instead with hope.
“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”
— John Lennon