This is the trill of a thousand clear cornets and scream of the octave flute and strike of triangles.
I play not a march for victors only…I play great marches for conquered and slain persons.
Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
I also say that it is good to fall…battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.Whitman, Song of Myself
I suppose today the internet will be less sufferable than usual. I had an American Government teacher back in 2016, when I started my college re-engagement tour, who was a Palestinian named Jihad. Really. He was obsessed with government, especially the courts. He would go to the court house when he had the time, just to watch trials. On the Friday before the election he said, “please raise your hand if you think Hillary Clinton will win the election.” I was in the front row, and didn’t turn to look, but I figured it was unanimous. He then said “now raise your hand if you think Donald Trump will win.” I put my hand up and this time I looked around. There was a young Asian kid, probably too young to vote, who was wearing an Army field jacket with a German flag on the shoulder. He had his head down and his hand up. Nobody else in a room of 30-ish people. I assumed that what most people thought they were doing was indicating not who they believed would win, but who they wanted to win. And that the fear of raising your hand for Donald Trump would make you appear to be supporting him, to want him to win, which would have been social suicide.
That’s the sort of small life skill that I wish people would develop. The ability for rational discernment. The ability to say “I want outcome X, but I anticipate outcome Y.”
I don’t know that I want any particular outcome today. I know what I grudgingly prefer, and I know what I expect. I know which query from Dr. Jihad would get my hand in the air today. I know that no outcome will result in grace or dignity, and that I will be sad for people and a little afraid of them, for a long time to come.
Democracy is no place for heroes. We should stop looking there for them.
An email has just come from The Girl’s school, saying that it’ll be hard to wait for results, that they should be sure to show their families /teachers/etc. kindness and patience today, in order to be respectful. I can say with some confidence that my daughter would have no reason to believe that there was any need for increased levels of patience or kindness, that she wouldn’t have a hard time respecting anyone, that she wouldn’t believe in election day as an excuse to slip into poor character habits or a time to be afraid, if her school wasn’t making sure she saw it that way.
We go so far, we work so hard, to sow unease and uncertainty into our world. To undermine our harmony and placidity. We harvest woe, we band great sheaves of blight. We pack our silos with spores of fear, to be spread against times of abundance and health.
The COVID thing has been interesting here. The number of positive cases reported has been on a solid upswing, causing The Fear in the people. But deaths and hospitalizations are on a solid downswing, which isn’t getting much coverage. My armchair conclusion is that the severity of the thing is proving rather insubstantial.
I’m getting sick of masks, sure. But I tire most quickly of narratives, of dull repetition, of tropes and conversational tics. Hearing “2020” or “COVID times” or any declaration about how good or poor a job that people were doing of “observing social distancing” at the store or the park or the beach, or most recently all the proud announcements of everyone’s clever ways of safely passing out Halloween candy to people who “probably shouldn’t have been trick-or-treating anyway,” just makes me want to go home and close the door behind me. At this point I’d rather just talk about the election, which is absurd.
–I, for one, don’t give the tiniest shit who votes, Comrade Citizen–