I awoke this morning at ten minutes to seven. I fed my hens and dog; let the cats outside and made a cup of coffee. Today is like any Saturday — except it seems the world is ending. That’s paranoia talking — only it’s not. An hour upon waking, I learned that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last night. The best of so very few warriors, the tiny powerhouse who I prayed would valiantly ward off her own death to see us through these dark times, quietly slipped away as I slept. I awake to what feels like a dystopian wasteland where Mitch McConnell, rubs his hands together like a ghoul and gleefully plots the wholesale disenfranchisement of women, communities of colour, the LGBTQ community and virtually any vulnerable people for whom RBG championed throughout her spectacular career. I messaged my best friend in San Antonio for a quick, healing rant. I wept at my desk for a minute; then took the dog for a walk.
I wondered, does this mean war? Can we call this a line in the sand? Yes, but, more to the point, we’ve been at war; ‘they’ (the Mitch McConnell’s of this world) had already locked us in this continuous battle a long while ago. I’m old enough to remember the initial cannon blasts of the Hyde Amendment in the late 1970s, restricting federally funded abortion access for women with only a few dire exceptions; followed by Reagan’s parental consent measures to further limit access for minors to practically any kind of reproductive healthcare. I watched as cuts to social programs ushered in a new era of homelessness in the 1980s that included women, children and entire families — people with jobs, but no hope of a roof over their heads; an advent shocking then, but commonplace today. Gilead is not new, but its development has exploded in these past four years, ramping up the very worst of the Reagan years and green lighting a resurgence of white supremacists to hold people in check as they infiltrate the police, the military and the House of Representatives. The war is nothing new, but the stakes are higher.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has gone. May she rest in power. So following our hand-wringing and weepy phone calls, what does this moment demand? At the risk of sounding alarmist, shit’s on fire, folks. Literally, Oregon, California, Washington and Idaho are ablaze; the pandemic continues to rage; babies are in cages; Black communities are under attack by racist police and heavily armed white supremacist civilians; the free press faces imminent danger and Trump and his kleptocratic cronies are fleecing the country in a fascist free-for-all. I suggest some alarm is in order.
I have no ready answers. I’m just an old feminist grandmother in front of a computer. But we can resist, and we must. We can be kind to each other and nurture each other as we continue to struggle against this madness. We can assess our resources, whether it be money, our feet on the pavement, our art and our time and allocate them where needed. We can vote and throw ourselves and our resources behind candidates and campaigns that we need and that need us — like Amy McGrath, running against Mitch McConnell (I’m looking at you, Kentucky). We live in dangerous times and we’ve lost some of our very best: John Lewis, Elijah Cummings, and now RBG. We owe it to their memory to tear down Gilead. We owe it to each other.