The exhaustion that Blue people endure when living in a Red America that refuses to see them
I have spoken to a lot of exhausted people recently, even with the good news that many of us have experienced through this country.
Though, nationally there was no massive Red Wave as predicted by the pollsters and the media, these activists and caring human beings have been battered by the surrounding flood waters for a long time now.
They are self-proclaimed blue dots living in red areas who are tired of fighting what feels like a losing battle.
They tell me they are sick of seeing people in their communities ratifying racism, codifying misogyny, and amening homophobia; of watching the most incompetent and predatory of candidates be elected.
They’ve had enough of pushing back and speaking up and showing up — and feeling like it doesn’t matter because the system is so polluted and the playing field so lopsided.
In places like central Texas and south Florida and rural Georgia, millions of good people feel like their votes and their work doesn’t matter and they want to retire from giving a damn.
You might be there, too.
Maybe you are grieving your geography, the sad state of the place you call home.
If you’re in a Red area that seems destined never to embrace disparate humanity and to forever be the kingdom of the zealots and the bigots and the fear-mongers, I’m not going to tell you to keep going today — but I’m hoping you will.
Because we’re all so close to the fight, it’s easy to forget just what’s happening here, the bigger story we’re all part of in these precisely painful seconds, the way our destinies are tethered together, the long road we are on with so many others.
Well before you and I showed up, there were other people here: people whose names, faces, and stories we’ll never know. They faced similarly dire circumstances, they also endured great suffering, and they too surely found themselves at hopelessness and resignation.
But they didn’t stop.
They fortified themselves and braved the injury and the trauma and the losses and the bruises — and they walked straight into the fight, cost and collateral damage be damned. They sacrifices sleep and grew weary and yet carried on, and because they did, you and I arrived in a nation that we feel is still worth fighting for.
They surely did it for themselves and for their families but they also did it for you and for me and for our families They didn’t know our names or faces, and yet they made sure that when we got here there was something of beauty and goodness waiting for us.
I want you to think ahead, just 100 years or so.
100 years from now, you and I will be dead. 100 years from now, we will be gone. 100 years from now we will reside solely in fading photographs and in the memories of a handful of people who shared close proximity with us and still can recall what we were like.
And in another 100 years, when those photos are fully faded and when those few people who knew us leave this place, we will be all but forgotten.
And while that could all feel quite hopeless, it shouldn’t. It should clarify our purpose. It should make us brave.
We aren’t living here to be remembered or to win elections. We’re living here to be caretakers of goodness and love and justice and decency, so that those coming 100 years from now, those who names and faces we’ll never know — will find these things waiting for them.
This was our inheritance and it is our singular legacy: the world we give to those just off in the distance. We owe a debt to the damn-givers who came before us, not to stop now.
So yes, admit the toll these days have taken on you.
Inventory the wounds you’ve acquired, category the people you’ve lost, and notice how much you have spent of yourself.
Reckon with the heaviness within you and the grief you’re carrying upon your shoulders and the rage that resides in the center of your chest.
Lament every bit of what you’re seeing and don’t pretend it isn’t rightly horrifying.
But please don’t stop.
Change may be incremental and almost imperceptible where you are, but it is happening because of you and the work you do in the small, close, here, now, and doable.
100 years from now, there will be people where you live: young couples and big families and single parents and solitary travelers; teenage girls and sick children and elderly men and working mothers.
There will be gay kids deciding whether or not it is safe to speak their truest truth. There will be young men of color asking if their lives really matter.
There will be women wondering whether or not they have a voice about their bodies. There will be exhausted refugees imagining a life of safety and rest here.
There will be human beings needing compassion and kindness and a community that sees them.
For them, and for those who have come before, I ask you to keep fighting, knowing you are not alone in the nation we are making and renovating, even now.
To blue humans in red America, please keep going.
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com
John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.