Confronting sadness with action
by Emily Gallagher
Jul 09, 2019 | 657 views | 0 0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I hadn’t seen my best girlfriend in months. We met up a few nights ago to see a movie and drink a beer. It was the Saturday after the Fourth of July.

We rode our bikes to the theater and alternated between the usual thrill of the breeze and the sounds and smells of riding around town, and jumping in fear to the curb when we would hear a truck approach.

It was hard to just enjoy it, now that 15 of our peers have been killed by trucks.

After the movie, we were trying to figure out why it had been so very long since we’d been out together.

She told me she’d been depressed, more now than ever. I agreed and said that sometimes it was hard for me to get out of bed in the morning. We started going through the things that were getting us down.

Both of our jobs were having budget cuts and it felt like there was an ax swinging over our heads. Both of us have worries about aging relatives.

But then, just a few sentences in, we realized there was a lot going on.

“I’m depressed because I am mostly seeing my friends now at vigils for our dead acquaintances who are getting mowed down by trucks every week.”

“I’m depressed because I really don’t know what to do about ICE and the detention centers and I am so upset about them and ashamed at the way we are abusing migrants.”

“I’m depressed because I don’t want to live in a country that has a tank parade, Mussolini style, on Independence Day.”

“I’m depressed because my cousin has diabetes and can’t afford insulin.”

“I’m upset because of the Epstein thing and the 13-year-old girls he trafficked, and that so many of our political leaders have potentially had sex with trafficked children.”

“I’m upset because I watched the Central Park Five documentary on Netflix and couldn’t stop crying about the way we treat incarcerated people and how many of them are wrongfully convicted.”

“I’m depressed because my favorite pizzeria is closing.”

The list went on and on. And then we realized that we probably weren’t the only ones feeling awful after a holiday that is meant to celebrate rebellion against oppressive government.

Every day since, the only thing that can get us through is to get up and try to figure out what action to take next.

But it’s exhausting to feel like life is an endless onslaught of tragedies, vigils and then trying to politically organize our rage and pain away.

I want to live in a peaceful place where people take their time to find a solution that works for everyone, and doesn’t seriously harm anyone. Where one group of people, because they have heavier machinery, more money, or more social power, doesn’t automatically feel that that gives them the right to act in disregard to those who live around them.

I’m not hopeless. It’s either a blessing or a defect of my personality that I can usually find a new idea, a new friendship or a new connection to get me through the day.

But I am becoming hardened. I can no longer choose to relish in the mythologies of history, one of my favorite pastimes of old.

It is quite clear to me that the past is very much gone, and that the stories we told also hid a lot of ugliness.

No, my friends and I pass the time now thinking of new solutions, brainstorming late into the night. Trying our best to lend a hand as much as we can.

But on that Saturday night, my best friend and I gave each other our hands and simply allowed ourselves to cry.
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