Warning: This is a long one. Personal therapy and so forth. If you've stumbled across this foul grain of internet sand, please forgive my self-indulgence.
In my lifetime the United States has changed extraordinarily. Not all positively, mind you, but positive change is the focus of this article. After all, I subscribe to a power of positive thinking credo, despite my lack of ability to behave as an above average practitioner.
It’s difficult for younger generations to conceptualize the country of my youth, just as it is difficult for me to understand the preconceived notions and abject realities of the United States that Baby Boomers grew up with. Thus, I’m writing this for the “youngens,” because I find myself continuing to associate with their frustrations and angst, despite my grey curlies. I will never deny my Peter Pan syndrome or devoutly not-Christian Jesus complex.
Anyway, dear young friends, your passion and yearning for change will only be rewarded through a lifetime pursuit, and within that lifetime the changes will often feel incremental. Not enough. But, when taking in the bigger picture, they can be viewed as extraordinary.
For instance, I remember when a female politician being on the ticket as a Vice-Presidential candidate was an unheard of first. A ticket that was crushed, unfortunately, but still groundbreaking. Unless I’m forgetting someone (wink), it took another 24 years for a female to be on a legitimate Presidential ballot. However, this time it was for the big seat, and she almost gained her party’s nomination. Eight years later she earned that primary nod, and she should have won the general, but that’s another fiasco for another day and the history books. That said, four years after that, another female, this one relatively unknown until the previous decade, ran a strong campaign to be the Democratic nominee. This is the snowball effect of change. It took Hillary Clinton 30-40 years of public life and advocacy to build a coalition and support base to almost be the first female POTUS. In less than a decade of pubic consumption, Elizabeth Warren was able to mount a serious effort towards a nomination, and numerous other women also mounted campaigns. Though unsuccessful in the end, I count being relevant in national conversation and media coverage a serious effort. Along the way, we’ve witnessed the first female Speaker of the House as well.
While this is genuinely a long time coming, and we wish things would move faster, we now live in a country where female power and rise in politics is commonplace. I know, election to the Big Cheese position is still elusive, but it is now within grasp. You may have already voted on a local, state, or national level for the woman who will crash this glass ceiling.
The truth, as you may be well-aware, is that most humans don’t like change. They don’t care for the unknown, and the results of change are always unknown. Even those that are comfortable with change prefer it to be at their own pace. For those of us more inclined to embrace change, this can be frustrating, especially to youthful enthusiasm. Consider, as many have noted in this election cycle, the pragmatic voting of our country’s older generation of African-Americans. The Baby-Boomer generation of African-Americans fought for their own civil rights and still most often choose Left of Center politicians they “know” over those who propose revolutionary ideas of hopes and dreams these same voters want for their own children and grandchildren. Pragmatism at its finest. Pragmatism for the eventual win. Make no mistake, I'm not criticizing these folks, and would be way out of my lane to do so. They witnessed people actually die for their cause, and over the course of time, their efforts affected great change. Pragmatism, and effort, for the eventual win...ahem...From winning the right to vote to seeing the First African-American President in a Boomer's lifetime.
We’ve seen the arc of the Aids epidemic crippling homosexual communities in the 1980’s, to the eventual legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. Thirty-plus years, but the change came. Not fast enough for any of my loved ones in the LGBTQ community but it came, through consistent, persistent effort. We’ve seen professional athletes, a huge percentage of whom are minorities, unionize to protect their rights as workers, creating collective bargaining that moved a ton of money from owners to players, and in the long run, from owners to players to marginalized communities through the charities of said players (this may seem like an odd anecdote for this piece, but it’s not). We’ve seen mixed race love and marriage expand and become widely accepted in the past thirty years. These are no small things.
Granted, we’ve seen a bunch of horseshit, and some recent regression as well. It happens. Two steps forward, one step back. None of this shit is happening fast enough for me either, and I’m honestly not affected by most of it other than being a creature who cares.
Please don’t misunderstand. I hate this shit too. I think humanity is absurd. I want equality tomorrow. However, I have the histories of countless worlds and civilizations at my fingertips, not to mention our own recorded history. The tumult of true revolution is not for the stomachs of most. Cultural evolution is almost always a slow process with a long arc, except for a few species I know of that operate on extremely faster timelines than we do. Also there's one I know of that goes through its entire evolutionary process over and over again in the blink of your eye, but let's not get into the Blinkies again (not their real name, just what I refer to them as because, you know...).
In truth, I’ve written this selfishly, mostly with the intent of self-care. I needed to hear, write, and read this for my own piece of mind. To express my frustration as a positive, “keep your chin up,” note to self. Still, in case one of you angsty, fighting the good fight whippersnappers happens across this exercise in acceptance, know this: Change takes longer than you want, but the results are waiting for you, if you stay the course. Perhaps you will never see the gains you hope for in your lifetime, but the only thing that will stop them from happening over the long haul is if you quit trying. Or, if Mother Nature finally has enough of our nonsense and destroys us all.
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