With my wife away this week the mornings have been especially quiet. I lost the morning radio habit years ago (driven away is more like it) but I turned it on today to wrangle with the loneliness.
I tuned to one of the few remaining radio stations which plays music instead of extremism. I was still waking up, but my brain registered the music as late 20th century rock-and-roll. I could not identify the song but as sleepy neurons started firing I recognized the band – – The Rolling Stones.
Up front, I never really cared for them. I was a Beatles guy and I liked just about every other British import from the era but never got into The Stones.
There I was, pre-coffee, listening to the nasal call of the strutting peacock. There was the repetitive, unimaginative arrangement. There was the lead guitarist who hit one particularly discordant lick every eighth beat, and to me, it sounded like he was tightening lug bolts with an impact wrench.
I put the tuner back to my usual classical music, added a little sugar and cream to my coffee, took in a deep breath, slowly exhaled and imagined someone put a warm blanket around me.
As peace returned I wondered “What’s going on?” Sure, the Stones are not my thing but they do not usually cause cartoon lightning bolts to fly out of my head.
Is this just aging? Maybe our parents were right about those “Damn jangly guitars!”
In years past I could chalk it up to too much John Barleycorn the night before. Or, as one of my beloved drinking buddies always said, “Bad ice.” Can’t be. I am down to a few glasses of Prosecco a week, if that.
OK. I figured it out. Here’s the thing:
I went to bed last night gritting my teeth. Then I cried a little. Then prayed a little. When I finally drifted off I awakened frequently, like a parent with a sick child.
I went to bed realizing there is a large group of people in my own country, in my own COUNTY, who would be perfectly fine if I just picked up and left. How I leave is not their concern. If I just self-deported that would be fine with them. So would self-exploding – it does not matter how I leave as long as I am eliminated. Same goes for my family. If I or my loved ones cannot pass their litmus test we can just go. They do not want to hear about my love for America, the contributions that my family has made to society or the blood and toil my father, aunts and uncles gave to fight tyranny.
They do not want to hear it. Just get out.
Elimination is their solution for political disagreement.
I am an old, rural white guy, but because I believe in the American ideal of pluralism and the right to freely criticize the government, I am out to destroy “their” country. My whiteness will not be a shield on their day of reckoning.
There I was last night, alone in my bed except for tears and prayers. I was wrestling with my feelings of anger over the chanters and haters because I knew I cannot stop the forces of hate by indulging in it myself.
What was really wrong this morning? I did not sleep well. In fact, I haven’t slept really well in months. I will let you figure out how many months.
I am worried. I am angry. I am sad.
But, I am not alone.
I take solace in knowing what is happening to our country needs to be confronted straightforwardly and that is what I will do, in solidarity with other Americans.
This morning was NOT about the Rolling Stones.