I Wish I Could Look Away, Too

“Can’t we just get back to talking about <insert topic> instead of politics?”

I’ve seen about a dozen variations on this on about a dozen platforms. I get it, too. It’s exhausting, hashing and rehashing the current political climate, Donald Trump and the Republican agenda. The political climate has become so toxic that there seems no room for compromise, friendships are falling apart over political posts and lives are being overtaken talking about this.

On the other hand, these same events are bringing people together. Just last weekend I stood on the steps of the state capital with twenty six thousand women. The march was inclusive of many issues and identities and despite what I’ve seen a few people say on the internet, for the most part the crowd was pretty accepting of each other as well. It gives me hope for the future.

Just last weekend I stood on the State Capital with 26,000 other women.

Meanwhile though there are those in my Facebook feed that wish I would get back to talking about writing, science fiction or anything other than politics. It’s not just me. I just read a blog post from Chuck Wendig about the very same thing. (Chuck can be a bit NSFW if you haven’t read him before, just as a warning.

Which means we need to talk about privilege. I know. I can hear you groan from here. But we really do need to talk about privilege.

Because if you can look away from the disaster that our government is rapidly becoming, you have privilege.

Now I am not saying you are a terrible person. Nor am I saying your life isn’t hard. And I am most certainly not saying you won’t be hurt by the changes that are likely coming.

What I am saying is that I can’t look away. I can’t stop talking about this. The stakes are too personal.

I know people who either are, or have been, at the Oceti Sakowin camp on the Standing Rock reservation. Trump has already reversed directions of the pipeline, issuing executive orders for the construction to proceed. Last fall the governor asked the nation guard to remove the protestors and Obama refused. What will Trump do?

Likely he will agree and the protestors will be removed. And people I care about will be hurt, in jail or worse.

Why fight the pipeline?

Just today there was yet another pipeline leak in Northern Iowa. The picture reminded me of the drive to my Uncle’s farm back when I was a kid. In fact, I had to click on the article to make sure it wasn’t my Uncle’s old farm. It brought home to me just how personal this fight is. It’s your water that will be poisoned if this pipeline leaks. It is this land that will suffer. And history shows just how likely a leak is.

I’d like to look away, take a break from it all. But each day there are new executive actions, threatening to take away healthcare from people who depend on it. Threatening to take away reproductive rights. Threatening to take away civil rights from people like me.

I could go on, but either you don’t care or I am preaching to the choir. There is too much at stake for any of us to look away, distract ourselves with other things.

If you have the privilege to look away, if people you care about are immediately effected by these changes, enjoy it while it lasts. The repercussions of ignoring climate change, actions like attacking the free press or protestors that erode democracy and foreign policies that lead to a trade war (or possibly a very real war) with China or Russia, will eventually affect you.

When you wake up and realize that fact, we will be waiting, out in the streets.

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