“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.”
Yet another massacre at a high school.
Yet another breach of a membrane — the walls of a school — that is supposed to keep our children safe. Yet another horror that means inconceivable loss. Yet another reason for students, teachers, coaches, and administrators to feel unsafe, un-held, in an institution they are mandated to attend.
Yet more unraveling. Yet more stress, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, and just plain disbelief.
And more outrage. Over the years, I (like many others) have expressed my righteous anger and disdain for people who I believe are doing a bad job of running our country or are doing a bad job of being human. Throughout my life (I realize now), I have felt fundamentally “held” by a nation that I trusted, that stood for values I believe in, that I expected would always right itself because of the commitment to liberty and justice at its core.
But it is under the Trump/GOP reign, with its dismantling of agencies, laws, and norms of decency that protect us and our world from chemical, environmental, medical, emotional, and physical harm, that I cannot escape the feeling of being a motherless child.
A motherless child: a human being who lives in a nation that does not, will not, hold me with respect, care, or regard for my safety and well-being. A nation whose mother does not do her job because she is just. too. sick.
This is the nation that will not pass sensible gun laws LIKE EVERY OTHER NATION ON THE PLANET even as data show unequivocally that such laws prevent tragedies of the sort Americans are experiencing at a rate of FIVE PER MONTH. This is the nation that CUTS BACK on funding for vital social services like mental health care and food stamps, that fights raising the minimum wage, that condemns swaths of our population to ongoing poverty and neglect, that gives the freakishly wealthy a tax break, that is so “post-racial” that black male drivers are in MORTAL PERIL and Muslims are FEARED, that is “the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into.”
This is the nation that African Americans and immigrants from all over the world have spent generations living in. When this nation wasn’t/isn’t actively abusing people of color (or people of some other targeted category), it simply fails to hold them. It renders them motherless. It is under the Trump/GOP reign that I as a white woman am experiencing the chronic stress of living in a country run by unrelievedly untrustworthy, unraveled, self-interested, abusive “parents.” This America has rendered me motherless, and it SUCKS.
I have written about holding environments before. I fervently believe that schools and classrooms need to be healthy holding environments, places where students and teachers and administrators are safe to grow and change and develop. Teachers are not their students’ parents, but they are their students’ developmental partners. As such, they need (in my view) to be good, consistent “holders” who safeguard learning environments that promote cognitive and emotional and relational growth.
Living through these times, I realize that nations need to be healthy holding environments, too. Nations need leaders who “hold” us all, not just through their policies and thoughtful, responsible consideration of complex realities but through their character: their integrity, their kindness, their intelligence and perspicuity, their wisdom and groundedness and perspective. Their trustworthiness. Their genuine care. (This is, frankly, why I loved and still love President Barack Obama. And First Lady Michelle Obama. They epitomize such leadership.) Nations need limits; they need to face reality; they need to promote cognitive, emotional, and relational growth; they need to stand for the highest human values; they need to encourage people to care for each other; they need to model that care.
This has not happened for African Americans and so many other members of oppressed groups in this country. It is not happening for our schoolchildren or for our teachers. It is not now happening for any of us who believe that every nation’s and every person’s highest calling is the greater good. Our nation is parentless — worse, it is motherless. Worse, it is run by a group of men (our president, the Congressional majority, the NRA, among others) who are, frankly, insane.
A holding environment that is run by insane people is UNHEALTHY FOR ALL.