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30 June 2018


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Beautifully expressed. Thank you. This is not the America I grew up in, loved, believed in, hoped for.

What an era in whch to grow up :-( this has been so trying for my teens (16 and 18). Particularly for the elder, my daughter, who is fragile in many ways, and who is becoming so bitter and cynical about life and people and our society. So it is extra challenging, as you say, to teach them well and responsibly, in this current miasma of political and cultural destructiveness.


Your description here: "I used to be confident that truly malicious motives were rare, and that the great majority of people convinced themselves that they were seeking a thing which we all can agree is good: safety, or fairness, or freedom, or justice, or protection of the vulnerable, or enjoyment of the good things in life. Maybe too much of one here and not enough of another there, but seeking something good." still rings true to me. I think the way we talk with those who pursue these things in ways we think are wrong has changed, such that each group is other-ing the ones they disagree with to the point they stop looking human, but I don't think the pursuit of genuinely good things has changed. I don't think people function in a way that they can think, "wow, this is a BAD, and I will pursue it!"

I am also doing high school US govt and politics this next year, and I'm actually very interested in what we'll have to discuss. I guess I don't see this year as much different from 4 years ago, or 8, 12 or 20.... I have always felt civic life to be a bit of a struggle and often a vale of tears - easy to see the fallenness of man there, I guess. "Hell is other people" and all that. I'm sorry you are facing a loss of joy in the subject. Last year might have been an even worse year to teach it, leading up to the vote and then having to both recover from it AND help lead others through a debrief on what happened.

Perhaps a historical revisiting of other times people felt, "This is not the country I knew" might bring about a measure of breathing room, as when the presidential election was "stolen" for Rutherford B. Hayes or for John Q Adams (who was behind Jackson in both popular and electoral votes, but was chosen out of top 3 by House, and then appointed the Speaker of the House as his Secretary of State).

In the western state I moved to last year, we're always watching for the state govt to make it even more expensive to live here, or even less legal to live in the way we've chosen (ie serious consideration whether large family and/or homeschooling = automatic assumption of child abuse, for inst.) Our governor's race offers the very real possibility that our limited health care options may become even more drastically curtailed by the introduction of a one-payer, big-brother-style healthcare system. Local politics, at least, are of dramatic and terrifying personal import, even as they also seem to be predestined and beyond my influence.

(not-so-quick aside: living through the local discussions about large homeschooling families being ipso facto dysfunctional made real to me the kind of lifetime stress burden that living as a black woman in our society creates, which is pointed to as maybe part of the reason preterm birth affects black women disproportionately even when everything else is corrected for. My little burden is nothing in comparison, and yet I could feel the baseline stress all the time: when we were home and kids got upset by the suggestion we do our chores, or get ready for bed; when kids out back got frustrated with their siblings and began to yell, before I could arrive and suggest different forms of communication; whenever I left some kids home with the big ones, and wondered if some totally unexpected rare event might cause a problem while I was gone; and EVERY TIME I had to go out in public with more than a few kids while the conversation was fresh and ongoing. "Are they looking at me? Is some busybody going to report me because my daughter is wearing her favorite shirt that seems like it should be in the rag bin instead? Why didn't I notice before we left and make her change it?? Please don't let my toddler start shrieking in the earsplitting way that is his go-to response to most frustrations - everyone just smile and be quiet, but not TOO quiet, and don't be noticed, while I look all peaceful and nurturing and also efficiently take care of this errand...." I can only imagine the level of baseline stress from trying to raise confident, safe, ALIVE children as a black woman, but my small experience made my imaginings much more vivid and visceral.)

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