‘Murica, by Michelle Schwartz

Yesterday I convinced my roommate to go on a hike with me through White Clay. We walked for miles and visited my mandala on the way back to campus. We talked about our futures and comforted each other about the post-grad years. The fresh air was delicious, and with every inhalation through my nose I felt an instant detox throughout my whole body. It was November 8th and I was feeling happy and grateful as I basked in the lovely 3 p.m. sun that only a warm fall day can offer. I looked down to see the carpet of leaves breaking down to become soil like walking ground. I looked up to see petals slowly fall from their mother trees, leaving bare space between branches. Life was good. I did not have much work for the coming week, I was enjoying nature with a good friend, and I was appreciating one of the last warm days of the season. Nothing would change my sense of wonder and happiness.

As we walked, I noticed a couple of snakeskins. At first, I did not believe what I saw. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me and the skin must have been plastic. As our journey continued, and could not deny that those long, paper thin pieces where in fact pieces of snake skin. Unlike the shedding of human cells, the snakeskin all comes off in one piece. Through some research, I found that a shake sheds its skin to allow for growth and to remove parasites that could have attached to old skin. The snake’s skin does not grow like our skin grows. It cannot stretch, so it eventually has to get rid of the old skin to keep growing. A new layer of skin grows underneath the old one. The snake may go into water to loosen the skin or rip the skin in the nose or mouth area with a rock. This process can occur two to four times a year. It thought about how cool it is that a snake can physically evolve so quickly. Little did I know that my whole society could evolve overnight.

Today is November 9th. Today Donald Trump became the 45th President of

The United States of America. And there was nothing my tears or my one vote to the liberal state of New Jersey could do to change this. I see our nation as the snake that ripped its old skin open forcefully against a jagged rock to pry open novelty. But the skin that is now on the outside is dark and full of blemishes. I suppose the new skin had always been growing underneath the old skin. It has been waiting to come to the surface for a while, and now enough people have created rips to expose what the new skin looks like. America (White Middle America) was looking for some new skin. And they officially shed their old skin today.

Today I watched Hillary Clinton deliver a speech filled with gratefulness for her supporters and sorrow for the coming days. At the end of the speech, she spoke to the women and girls who were listening. She ensured us that we still have mountains to climb but we will continue to climb them. She told girls that their future is still bright and one day there will be a female president. I was so ready for that day to be today. I read the end of Ancient Futures shortly after hearing the speech in order to distract myself from the world I was living in. I thought of Hillary as I read the passage,

“In an industrial culture, power is vested almost exclusively in men. Science, technology, and economics – the cornerstones of this culture – have been male-dominated from the very inception. Development has had the effect of leaving women behind – both literally and figuratively- as men go off to urban center in search of paid employment… considerations such as these lie outside the parameters of conventional development thinking. Yet they are, of course, absolutely fundamental to the cause of human welfare. That, lest we forget, must surely be the ultimate goal of development. As the king of Bhutan puts it, the true indication of a society’s well-being is not gross national product but “gross national happiness”.”

Today, I feel saddened as a woman. I feel guilty to live in a country where a republican strong Senate and the House will be more open to a white male than to a woman. I feel surprised and stupid for thinking for a moment that the rest of the country was as progressive at the northeast. I feel proud for voting, but I feel defeated for losing. We are still a country that values race and gender over intellect and experience. We value gross national product over gross national happiness any day. As a female, granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, college educated, liberal, future social worker, and yoga instructor, this all shakes me to my core. What is the American dream? Because a white picket fence isn’t doing it anymore. What is happiness? Money can support happiness but it is proven that after a family is decently well off money does nothing for happiness. What are our values? And what are we teaching our children?

What are the next four years going to look like? Will I have paid family leave when I become a mom? Will Monsanto continue to get richer? Will nothing be done about climate change? Will the 1% continue to accumulate all of the nation’s wealth? I know that I will probably be fine. I live in the North East, I will probably get paid a salary, I am not a visible minority, and I can afford organic produce. But it’s not enough that I will be fine, because a lot people won’t be fine. My hands shake as I finish this piece, because there is no happy ending I can bear to write, and I love a good happy ending. Time will tell what our futures will hold. And that’s all I know.

1 Thought.

  1. I just reread this for the first time since graduating. My timing is not a coincidence.
    Thanks for keeping these up!

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