Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Does anybody question that the personal is political anymore?
One year ago today, a BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people and oozing oil and toxins into the surrounding ecosystem. Wildlife and humans are still affected by this huge environmental disaster. One year later they are still dying, sick, and trying to create paths to healing each other and themselves. The system that allowed this disaster to happen is still standing. Barely, but still standing.
One year ago today, my partner's ex cut him out of his child's life, for no other reason than she had determined that it would be best for the child.
While this is morally unimaginable, she, as a biological parent, had every legal right to do so. He, as a non-biological parent, had and has no legal rights. One year later, the path to healing is very clearly long and winding ahead of him, ahead of us. The systems that allow this atrocity are still standing.
Does anybody question that the personal is political anymore? I suppose that people of great privilege don't need to bother with that question. But for the rest of us (read: most of us) our everyday lives hammer this point in again and again. Everything we do and everything that happens to us is political. When an oil rig explodes, polluting our lives and ruining our livelihoods, and the government whose purported purpose is to look out for us refuses to hold the responsible corporation accountable, that is political. When we lose a job because of our skin color or who we sleep with, and there is no lawyer willing to take on our case because we have no money, that is political. When a legal system that doesn't recognize queer families allows one parent to rescind the rights of another, that is political. When we break a bone and go to a hospital only to be turned away due to lack of health insurance, that is political. When we have our rights denied because of nothing more than who we are, that is political.
We find solace in one another, turning to friends, family, and community for support. We pray, meditate, eat, fuck, drink, and cry to cope. We try therapy, we make art. We tell our stories loudly, to anybody who will listen. We lose our shit entirely in cafes, or in an alleyway behind the liquor store. We start smoking again. We begin to run obsessively again. We try to hide from our feelings and needs. We try to heal. We keep secrets, wring our hands and turn the other way when people say things that make us remember our traumas. We ask for help. We spend evenings alone online, trying to pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist and that we don't feel excruciatingly lonely. We write letters to our representatives, post articles articulating the reasons for our indignation to facebook. We ask people to help our cause, come to our rally. We don't know which, if any, of these things is actually helping. We try to save ourselves and we try desperately to save each other. And all the while, we don't know what is actually going to change a damn thing. One foot in front of the other, inhale, exhale. We just keep going.
I don't know much about this business of healing myself, helping others, and saving the world. What I do know is that breaking the silence, telling the truth, and giving love and support (and asking for it) feel important. So I'll keep trying to do these things. I'll keep at it. One foot in front of the other. Inhale. Exhale. Just. Keep. Going.