Saturday, November 12, 2016

Family update -- with and without election reflection

Here's the family update, starting with the light, cheery news:

My husband made a social visit in Philly, schmoozing with his former co-workers. J-son (aka, "Man of Many Mothers") returned from a visit with his birth mother to spend the week here with his adoptive mother (me), and is now gone for the weekend, visiting his former foster mother.  N-son was named captain of his squash team by his coach, who praises his dedication and hard work.  And me, I've been making good progress on my latest math paper -- it's good for the soul to be doing math!

**  The less cheery, election-related stuff **

But of course, the election results loom large. All of my over-18 Pennsylvania off-spring voted, but as large as my family is, our votes weren't enough to carry the state for Clinton.  (Below, there's a photo of a proud J-son at the polling place).  My husband has since sworn off of all political podcasts and returned to WW2 podcasts, just to ease his stress.   J-son had to mediate a heated discussion in school cafeteria between a Trump supporter and a Clinton mourner.  

On my campus, I've had students in shock, including one student who broke down sobbing in my office -- she and her 3-year-old niece were born in the U.S., but the rest of her family has lived here for decades undocumented, and she's terrified of the family being torn apart.  Our campus is a microcosm of the state, with some students wearing Trump caps, other students afraid to wear Trump caps, some students grieving over Clinton's loss, many students declaring solidarity with their non-white students, and vocal majority of us condemning the swastika inside a star of David that appeared on a classroom blackboard late one evening.  

In response, I've self-medicated with mathematics (hence, the productivity).  But also, N-son and I have both continued volunteering at our local soup kitchen, and I joined the Environmental Defense Fund, and started sending letters through the Union of Concerned Scientists website to people who have the power to defend the climate from the catastrophe of deregulation.

One of the advantages of squandering my teenage years memorizing poetry and speeches is that sometimes I carry consolation around in my head.  And so this week, I've been chewing over and over on these words that President Lincoln spoke to a nation that was even more divided than we are, reminding us that our nation was "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal".  And he then called us to action to defend these ideals:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


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