HISTORY HAS ITS EYES ON YOU
The women’s march in my hometown was too small to make the news, but the pictures of witty signs, chants, and pink hats trickled down to me through social media. Many of my friends were in attendance, lauding the experience as life changing. I could feel their energy transmitting through the airways as I flipped through pictures, a second-hand electric shock at what our country could do. The march drew people from a diverse range of circumstances, from celebrities to the ACLU. It set in motion the new counterculture that stands for everything the administration does not. And, nearly one week later, the march has solidified into a movement, one side of the battlefield.
I consider myself a student of history, and I have for a while. All that means is I can tout myself as a master of useless trivia (John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts), but I also rely on history to bring perspective to the current landscape, be it economic, political, or social. Looking back at American eras within the safe blanket of the future is a startling experience to anyone who gives it more than a passing thought. It’s so easy to critique the decisions of the past. We blame those who did nothing to support women’s suffrage, who were bystanders to Jim Crow and vow to ourselves that we would have done it differently. But in reality, our country has faced such precarious situations that hinged on just a few tipping points. Seemingly by sheer chance, the right people spoke up at the right time to shape the present as we know it.
So many of history’s tipping points were set into motion by students. America’s rich history would not be complete without the Berkeley protests of 1964 in favor of the civil rights movement, or the waves of protest against the Vietnam war, or student strike in response to the Kent State shootings. And now, it is student who lead the newest wave of resistance against the reemerging racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic undercurrent that has always existed in America.
In the past week, I’ve experienced just enough of politics to know I walk the thin line between staying informed and draining myself of all hope- a dichotomy shared by too many others like me. I was by no means the only one who stood heartbroken on election day. My heart continues to break for the people whose rights, safety, and freedoms are in danger. History is cyclical; this isn’t the first time movements like the Women’s March have begun in response to injustice.
The concept of participatory democracy is more crucial now more than ever. This is new to me- it is new to all of us. No amount of biographies and documentaries could have prepared me to live in this era of uncertainty, but the idea that this era will one day be in the history books is overwhelming in the best possible way, just enough to wrench me out of my comfort zone. Whether you are seven, seventeen, or seventy, the time for idleness has passed.
I will continue to write, make art, and fill my senators’ voicemail boxes with messages, even if I forget my words, run out of paint, or stutter.