Disclaimer: due to the political contents of this article, the writer has chosen to remain anonymous. We are choosing to publish this piece regardless of The Alcove's typical standard as we believe it contains an important and timely message.
I’m a young person. And I think what a lot of adults don’t realize is that all the world events that have happened since I was old enough to understand anything about how the world works have made the world seem like a pretty awful place.
I’ve never known a world without climate change or police brutality. Trump was elected when I was in middle school. There’s a freaking pandemic going on. I can’t remember a truly fair, unbiased American election, and I don’t really think I’ll be able to a couple of weeks from now.
I’d like to think I’m a fairly level-headed person. Scratch that, I know I’m a very level-headed person–– much too level-headed for a teenager. People look at me funny and call me diplomatic and mature whenever I open my mouth. I know that the world will keep on turning. I know that we’ve survived plagues and wars and horrors of all kinds. I know I could be living through even worse circumstances. But I also know I could be living through circumstances that look a lot less like the apocalypse.
Would you like to know what the straw that broke the camel’s back was for me? It was the death of Justice Ginsburg. She represented the last microscopic grain of hope I had for the world. This tiny 87-year-old woman, who had given all of liberal America countless ulcers over the years with her myriad health scares, not only kept going against all odds, but retained all of her sharpness and feistiness. If she could keep going, so could the rest of the world.
But it wasn’t just that. What a lot of the people who go in for RBG enamel pins don’t know and probably wouldn’t like to hear about the late Justice is that she reached across the aisle. She was friends with Justice Scalia. She was, as Bill Clinton put it, “a force for consensus-building” on the Court. She represented a liberalism that was open-minded without sacrificing its feistiness, a liberalism that seems to have died with her.
The absence of such a worldview, if I had to pick a single factor, is, I think, what has caused so many of the problems the world is facing right now, and it’s for that reason that I’m writing this at half-past 10:00 on a Friday, slightly crazed, instead of going and being a teenager. We all like to talk about ‘a polarized political climate’ and being open to people who are different from us, but we don’t really act on those sentiments, do we? If people stopped turning up their noses at people who see the world differently than they do, we might be able to make some progress on something that isn’t related to the Kardashian du jour, and I apply that to both political factions. You might say that Republicans are the ones screwing everything up, and, well, I wouldn’t be far behind you. They did make the pandemic worse than it had to be in the U.S. They are the ones denying climate change and suppressing voters, and I’m sure now they’ll appoint a twenty-year-old who believes that racism is a dream and that all women should be routinely beaten with sticks to the Supreme Court. But Donald Trump and the Old-White-Man Gang didn’t just gambol into the White House because they felt like it. Half of the country handed them the keys. And if we want to stop the world from burning, we need their help too, so we’d better try and figure out why they did it, why they felt that everyone else was so wrong that Donald Trump was their solution, instead of just writing them off as redneck idiots. And I mean actually try and see things from their perspective, not just say, “Oh, I guess they just did it because they hate people who aren’t like them and Trump reminds them of their fathers.” Global problems need global solutions, and that means that the other half of the American section of the globe has to be more or less on board with those solutions.
So I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve inherited a not-very-fun world. But instead of blaming everyone else, or giving up, I’m going to try and do something about it, and I invite you to join me. This is an article of ways you can help out with this election, this is an article of ways you can help out with climate change, and this is the ACLU’s website. And, please, please, don’t just write people off as irredeemably evil, if only because the notorious R.B.G. chose not to do so. Just because someone has said or done something bad, or doesn’t agree with you about something, doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of doing some good.