It’s been a week, hasn’t it? A 24/7 onslaught of outrage, of assaults on truth and reason, culminating in a flat-out ban on refugees, immigrants, and especially Muslims. Federal judges calling bull doodoo on the most surreal of the flurry of executive orders, and the White House responding by vehemently denying that it said what it said and what we all heard it say (of course, whatever the White House does these days, it does vehemently). Meanwhile those of us on this side of the divide have been burning up Congressional phone lines and stuffing senators’ inboxes and showing up at airports to protest and, for many of us, being more politically engaged than at any previous time in our lives. It’s like being on a roller coaster that is threatening to go off its tracks at every turn. It’s exhausting. And yet, hang on we must.
Which is why my husband and I are taking a Pie Day. Despite being at the Women’s March in DC just a week ago, and despite my
unwavering commitment to stay in the trenches for as long as it takes, by yesterday morning I hit a wall. I was feeling bad. Really bad. The kind of bad that, I realized, if allowed to persist would make me physically ill or emotionally shut down or politically inert. And none of those outcomes are acceptable. The greatest danger to American democracy right now is, yes, the continuing and unabated campaign to dismantle it piece by piece by hacking away at its root assumptions — you know, things like equality and civil rights and tolerance and civility and fair treatment, and, oh, right, reality (“alternative facts,” anyone?). But the second greatest danger is that the rest of us will numb out. Disengage. Become psychically callous, inured, and finally apathetic.
Accepting the unacceptable and adopting the mantle of learned helplessness is a common human coping mechanism when confronted with tyrannical regimes. Tyrants know this in their bones. That’s why it only takes a noisy, committed, rapacious minority, one that is willing to blow past all the rules in pursuit of its agenda, to steer a great nation right off its rails if the majority withdraws in the face of unpleasantness. So we cannot let this happen.
Again, if you’re on this side of the divide (and I’m just as sad as you are that there is a divide, but it’s as undeniable as a fire raging in the living room), you may know that folks on the other side have a name for you and me. Perhaps you’re aware of it. They refer to us as snowflakes. Precious, special, delicate little snowflakes that will dissolve at our first contact with the heat of opposition. Snowflakes are too worried about feelings and which pronouns to use. They’re easy to distract, easy to overwhelm, easy to bully. They can’t survive in the mud and they’re way too unique and crystalline to put up much of a fight.
Alas, the past few decades have supplied some evidence for this characterization, as hostile and warped as it is. Progressives, or liberals, or let’s just say those of us who aren’t fanatics have been way too quick to recoil from the repugnance of the extreme right. We have decried the ruthless tactics of the Tea Party and its aficionados, and then gone on to explore things that interest us much more, like art and education and living quality lives. It’s not so much that they’ve gone low and we’ve gone high: we’ve just gone away.
No more, fellow snowflakes. We’re done with polite. We are icy, pointy, focused shards of truth that are banding together to form a deluge to submerge the eruption of Trumpster fires that are the current administration.
But in order for that to happen, we have to stay in the fight. We have to guard our energies, pace ourselves, focus our efforts, and especially get our minds around the fact that we are in this for the long haul. We are not pushing back for a day or a week, but for years. And we’re going to have to find ways to push harder.
Therefore, each of us has to stay sane, healthy, and ready. That means we have to titrate our doses of news (real news, and just parsing the credibility of our sources is a job in itself), decide what we can do on a daily and weekly basis, then maybe stretch that a little bit, and then live our lives. Support each other. Maybe you’re all about prison reform and I’m all about reproductive rights and she’s all about climate change: we’re still in it together and we need each other. Our diversity is what sustains us.
You know what else sustains us? Having fun. Taking walks in natural surroundings. Hanging out with people we love and who love us. Playing with our kids and grandkids. Stepping away from the tsunami of outrage from time to time so we can refresh our minds and our bodies and our souls. Snowflakes gotta be tough.
Therefore, pie. We will spend an hour driving through our beautiful Napa Valley and into the equally beautiful Anderson Valley until we reach the ultra-cute town of Healdsburg. Back when I was in college (before the Punic Wars) I would drive through Healdsburg from time to time; it was a sleepy farm town out in the boonies undergoing a wonky takeover by hippies. Now it’s full of art galleries and amazing restaurants (with breathtaking prices) and twee boutiques (ditto on the prices). It has an old-fashioned square in the middle of town surrounded with all these delights, and folks come from miles around to stroll and sip and dine and shop.
Our destination is Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar. It’s just a little shop where you order at the counter and, if you’re lucky, find a stool at the tiny ledge along the windows where you can sit and eat your pie and ice cream out of the paper container it’s served in. Ah, but such pies. Blood Orange with Chocolate Ganache? You bet. Whipped Cream Butterscotch Walnut? Oh, yes, And the ice cream: Black Sesame Cocoanut; Stumptown Single-Source Coffee; Pumpkin Chocolate; Japanese Purple Yam. Oh, and vanilla that will make your socks roll up and down.
We make semi-regular pilgrimages to Noble Folk. We have a slice of pie topped with a scoop of ice cream, and chase it down with the world’s yummiest affogato. And then, life affirmed and souls restored, we waddle happily back out into the sunshine.
Ready to fight another day.
How will you maintain your joie d’vivre along with your esprit d’corp? Please comment and share!