The 2022 election is less than a week away. I know that this fact should make me terribly anxious, but truthfully I’m not feeling it, and I wonder why. Is it the constant rush of news that makes it hard to grasp that the election is, in fact, next week? Is it because I have been experiencing quite a bit of personal anxiety recently, and that the election pales in comparison? 

In actuality, I think I am suppressing my feelings. I don’t want to recognize the immense implications that this event could have. The difference between the two extremes is still striking. The possibility of action on climate at the federal level versus none. The possibility of healthcare reform versus none. The possibility of action on guns and jails versus none. I probably don’t need to go any further in describing the contrast to you. 

As always, action can bring some healing to feelings of anxiety. Doing something to impact the outcome helps me process some of my fears, even if they are hidden under the surface. Sending letters to potential voters, texting to get out to vote for decent candidates, even making a few phone calls; doing each of these things in the last few weeks has given me an outlet for my feelings. 

But I think the other part of healing that anxiety – at least for me – is remembering the long view. Whatever happens on November 8th and in the days after, we will still have hope, and we will still have so much work to do. Whether Democrats keep full control of the federal government and increase their power in key states, whether Republicans take both houses of Congress and sweep the states into their corner, or something in between, we will still face crises of climate change, income inequality, gun violence, and mass incarceration. The election of Democrats will not solve our problems, and the election of Republicans will not push us past a tipping point. Whatever apocalypse we may imagine for ourselves based on these challenges, it does not mean humanity’s end. Indigenous and Black scholars and writers remind us that their communities have already faced the apocalypse and come out the other side of it. I don’t mention these communities and the hard-won wisdom they have gained in an effort to co-opt them, but in a desire to learn from them. This is not fatalism. It by no means entails accepting whatever we are given. It is the wisdom to shape the world in the current moment for ourselves and our immediate descendants, but also recognize that we may never know how long this shaping will take. It is the patience to mold the clay with our hands, the experience to use what we have learned from the hands of our ancestors, and the courage to pass the work on to those who come after us. 

Let’s hope for a positive moment on November 8th, but by all means let’s see it for what it is: one small moment in the long work of liberation.

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2 thoughts on “Shaping clay

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