I feel like I should have been carefully chronicling the events of 2020 thus far. The vague uneasiness about the strange new flu coming from China, the first rumors of it spreading to this country. Trying to go on, choosing not to live in fear and to continue life as usual for the sake of the children, and then having fear and isolation imposed on us in the blink of an eye by the very political leaders who, five minutes previously, were celebrating absolutely open borders and no restrictions whatsoever. Being lectured on how selfish and irresponsible it would be to go out and buy masks; only to be shamed what seems like a few days later for not having them on at all times. Looking forward to major events for my children: prom, concerts and school plays, a Spring Break trip to Arizona, two graduations... only to have them yanked away on March 12. Wednesday, planning for the trip to Arizona, the tasks that needed to be finished before then. Friday, everything was canceled. Abruptly. Teachers scrambled to craft something resembling school lessons for the rest of the year. Everyone worked from home, or lost their work altogether. The streets and skies were as silent as the days following 9/11, but without the comforting feeling of coming together in unity after a terrible attack. The Saturday before, getting together with the Mom's Breakfast Club at the Kitchen Table Cafe... the Saturday after, everything quiet and anxious.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm an introvert and of course, we introverts know how to thrive without a crowd of people around, at home, pursuing our own hobbies and interests. But these, as virtually every ad reminds us lately, are "uncertain times," and the things you need to stay sane in uncertain times -- work, church, school, community -- were all taken away as well. Some of us practice activities like music, knitting, quilting, reading, etc. to help us cope with a tendency to anxiety or depression that is only going to get worse when we are deprived of the activities of normal life and the social interactions that used to keep us centered.
In the first few weeks of lockdown, I was optimistic that I could distract myself with knitting and quilting beautiful things. I queued a bunch of free patterns on Ravelry (although they are still suppressing my profile pictures and bio, so the ownership is still as bigoted as ever) and started Bonnie Hunter's Unity quilt... all of these are very exciting and beautiful and I'd like to work on them, but as the days of deprivation wore on, I have struggled on Sleeve Island of one sweater that I started last fall, and forced myself to finish three extremely basic baby quilts... because babies continue to be born despite the quarantine rules, and babies need blankies. The same with all my grand intentions of cleaning and organizing my house... a nice thought, and of course absolute cleanliness is mandatory now, but there is just no mental/emotional bandwidth to complete them.
And then, just when we were celebrating graduations and births and friends as best we could in our drastically reduced circumstances, adapting to the new world order that had been imposed on us, peering into screens or putting out posts on social media or pretending to celebrate from six feet away through a mask -- the riots and civil unrest started.
I suppose it was inevitable: Jeremy Boreing, of the Daily Wire, had a very apt tweet analyzing the causes on May 30:
- Instill fear
- Lock people in their houses
- Drive tens of millions out of work
- Remove the pressure valves: Sports, Concerts, Bars, Theaters, Lunch with Friends...
- Close the churches
- Dehumanize through masking the healthy
- Strike match...
It must have felt like this when the Iron Curtain fell over the old Soviet bloc. Suddenly neighbors were viewed with suspicion and the usual social channels became filled with political recriminations. People hunkered down in their increasingly inadequate homes while gangs of Communist thugs roamed the streets, determining who needed to go to the Gulag next and doing their level best to erase history and remove every trace of the old order. Ordinary citizens lived in fear over things they had written, said, or even thought in the old days, and dreaded the midnight knock at the door.
Except now, the police are the enemy. The military are tools of oppression. Every mention of the current President must be one of condemnation... or you will be cancelled. If you have a business, well, if it's located in the downtown of a major city, you better show prominent support for the BLM and Antifa terrorists, and even then expect to lose your entire inventory and have your store smashed up. Maybe, if you're fortunate, you will say the right things to appease them and be allowed to continue doing business on social media. But you better not have any police officers or military members in your family. You better say the words they want you to say, read the books they promote. Better kneel in front of the occupiers, just to be safe.
Well, I refuse to go along with this madness. Yes, there is a political component to what I'm writing, but I think it goes deeper, and a fair-minded human being with very different political views than mine would agree with my fundamental right to feel what I feel, think what I think, and with very limited restrictions, say what I want to say, even if it goes against the woke groupthink currently in power in our country.
In the next part, I want to go back to basics, which helps many people struggling with overwhelming adversity. And the first step to psychological survival, as I see it, is owning your feelings and thoughts, and accepting that you have a right to do so. Indeed, it is what proves your existence.
Cogito, ergo sum.