My Friends Have Gone to Standing Rock and All I Can Do is Apologize
Disclaimer: shit’s about to get dark, guys. Come back tomorrow for snide comments about interior design and bad TV or whatever.
Some friends of mine left town today. They’re on their way to Standing Rock with a group of veterans from Washington. My veteran friend is going to fulfill his promise to defend his country from enemies both foreign and domestic. My other friend, his wife, is going to make sure that people stay warm, fed and comfortable.
I’m not able to go to Standing Rock with them because…well, because of all the reasons people don’t protest, and can’t look back at major shifts of culture and say “I did that, I was there.” For what I’m afraid are safe, privileged reasons, unfortunately, like I have a full-time job and this is my busy season, I’m trying to get promoted, my car doesn’t work, and a bunch of other things that sound legitimate but also really callow and shitty, and I’m not particularly proud of any of them.
So I tell myself that I did what I could. I donated to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe via the Action Network. I Amazon Prime’d bedrolls and wool socks to my friend who asked for sleeping pads and warmth. I told my boyfriend, who packed up a bunch of outdoor gear and gave it to her along with a message that both warms and breaks my heart: “Everything I send with you is for everyone there. I expect you to give it as needed to the people living up there.”
I want to remind myself that it’s so small but I am doing something, and if that’s all I can do in the face of a government that offered a flimsy treaty in exchange for a couple hundred years of attempted genocide and is now attempting to wipe it from history, then that’s okay. I will send what is needed. I will help pay fines. I will not allow myself to ever think that what I’ve done is enough and it’s over, and that I can continue living with the knowledge that the world is just.
I truly do wake up every day and think, “maybe today won’t be as bad as the other days.” And every day, I’m proven wrong. And I don’t think it’s the news cycle or the immediacy of the Internet or anything else people say when they want to downplay what’s happened, what’s happening, and what’s coming next. I am trying not to be reactionary and afraid. I’m trying to be tougher and smarter and more defiant. I’m trying to believe that things cannot possibly be this bleak, but really, god, they fucking are. I cannot possibly do enough. We, as a nation, cannot possibly apologize enough. We have done some very, very, very bad things, and we continue to do them, and now we have elected a psychotic billionaire who is staffing his cabinet with other psychotic billionaires and these are the people who think oil is more important than water and who will drive people from their homes and electrocute the gay out of teenagers and try to deport millions of people who cook food, clean houses, drive cars, go to work, go to worship, go to their families and try to convince them that everything will be okay.
How do we keep doing this to ourselves? How do we never fucking learn?