Reading the November 2017 issue of The Empty Closet caused—as it usually does—me to experience mixed emotions. Joy, because of the stories about adoption and other loving family issues, and fear because my own government refuses to recognize my right to even exist .
Having grown up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I bought into the lies everyone else did. As Pete Seeger so memorably sang,
“What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
What did you learn in school today,
Dear little boy of mine?
I learned our government must be strong.
It’s always right and never wrong.
Our leaders are the finest men.
And we elect them again and again.
That’s what I learned in school today.
That’s what I learned in school.”
”What did you learn in school today,” by Tom Paxton
That dream was shattered when the nation ran headlong into Viet Nam, assassinations, and Watergate. The past 40 years have taught me that our government can’t be trusted to tell us the truth, that politicians—at least at the national level—exempt themselves from the laws they impose on the rest of us, and that we haven’t learned a damned thing from history. How are we supposed to react when the enemy is not at the gates but rather occupying the seat of government.
40 years ago I didn’t even know what “transgender” meant, much less the fact that it applied to me. But now we’re in the 21st century, when the spelling of the word “bigotry” has changed into “sincerely-held religious beliefs,” and we have both an occupant of the White House (I refuse to call that orange monster “president”) and an Attorney-General who both tell me I have no right to even exist, much less be treated with the same rights as everyone else in our country are.
What will be the fate of our nation if the very people who are sworn to protect and defend it “against all enemies, foreign and domestic” are themselves domestic enemies? Or are we as a nation no longer worthy of those freedoms and liberties we fought for in 1776, 1812, 1860, 1914, and 1941? Is this, as Jack Nicholson’s character asked, “as good as it gets?”
“And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
or driven to its knees
But it’s all right, it’s all right
We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
we’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what went wrong.”
–Paul Simon, “An American Tune” Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group
Am I the only one who thinks these thoughts? Am I crazy? Or am I thinking clearly?
“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical….An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine [sic] necessary for the sound health of government.” – Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Paris, January 30, 1787 (Emphasis added)