There is an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying:”The hurrieder I go, the beholder I get.” With apologies for the possible non-existent words, that sentiment occurred to me this past few weeks. Protests were once again, like the 60s of my youth, everyday events.
The Student Union at UC Berkeley was again being trashed, police were on the roof with rifles and tear gas…only this time I was viewing it from my television, not living it as I tried to go about my business in the city of Berkeley. The U.S. was involved in faraway battles — then it was Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia…now it’s the Middle East and possibly soon the Ukraine,etc .as Putin flexes his muscles. Back then , Lyndon Johnston’s presidency was in jeopardy (and eventually forced by the people’s unrest to forego running again).
Now, we again have the spectacle of the protests but this time, Trump himself seems to be intent on destroying his own presidency…hoist by his own petard, I believe the saying goes.As I watched the Berkeley Student Union being trashed, I felt sad…I thought we had progressed beyond that. Apparently not.
From Gill came word that she was joining protests in Bristol — the women’ protests after Trump’s election. She was planning to join another protest recently about the immigration ban but was felled by illness herself. I wouldn’t have blamed her (or been surprised) if she felt sick to her stomach at all the latest bad news in the world.But I find it somewhat curious and interesting that she, all those many years after we protested in Berkeley, would be taking up the mantle…and be justified, in my opinion, in doing so.To show her solidarity with the protesters generally, she announced proudly that she was going to wear her Berkeley sweatshirt to work. You go, girl!
Once again, everyone’s dinner conversations centre around politics and the mess we’re in generally. And every week, when Gill and I Skype, we inevitably turn to U.S. politics — with a side of Brexit thrown in for good measure. I went across the street on Valentine’s Day to visit the neighbors — good friends who happen to be American–to wish them a happy day and have a long-overdue chat. The main topic of conversation, after their puppy (the chocolate lab I looked after last summer for 3 weeks) finished chasing her tail and jumping up and down until I played ‘tug of war’ with her, was Trump and his disastrous roll-out.
Even while on vacation in Mexico — which happened around Inauguration time– we were forewarned that, when our large group gathered for dinner, politics was to be OFF THE TABLE. Good thing, too, since I suspect some of our group liked Trump or may have even voted for him.That would have been a sure-fire way to ruin a perfectly good holiday. And on Inauguration Day, I did something I swore I would not do: I watched the Inauguration with my boyfriend’s sister. We were sharing a large suite with her. We both ranted at the spectacle, booed Trump and even had a few catty, but oh so therapeutic remarks about Kellyanne Conway’s fake ‘military’ outfit. We felt good to let off steam.
Immediately after that, she (the sister) went out into the hall to get another cup of coffee from the complementary coffee station. She ran into a woman from across the hall. This woman was an avid Trump supporter and made some crack like:”Thank goodness! We finally have a real president!” I think my boyfriend’s sister almost swallowed her teeth — but managed to get back into our suite without provoking an international incident.
It was truly interesting to watch Trump’s inauguration in the country he is threatening to ‘wall off’. The maid, I think, was somewhat taken aback yet amused to hear our rantings about the new president. Needing her job, of course, she didn’t dare comment on her political views. I suspect I can guess what those views were, but, she couldn’t afford to say anything that might come back at her.
I recall thinking, back in the turbulent 60s, that the world was going to hell in a hand basket. Now, all these many years later, I feel the same way — only it’s worse, if that is possible. I feel something like the beached whales that were recently stranded on New Zealand’s shores — out of steam, exhausted, not able to breathe, and on the verge of giving up altogether. But I can’t: I want to see how soon Trump will go down in a blaze of infamy. And in the meantime, I take some small hope in watching SNL each Saturday night. I think that show alone might save my sanity (not to mention that of the rest of the country’s.)