“The root of hate is usually ignorance with a side of fear. We fear that which is unknown to us and that which is different from us.” ~ from a previous 2010 article
Over the course of this presidential campaign, I have watched a narcissistic man with no political experience, no accountability, no respect for humanity, and no desire to unify a nation push and bully his way into a position usually reserved for a leader who embodies the exact opposite. This man, ethically and morally bankrupt, has managed to ignite hate and bigotry that has long been forced into hiding. By tapping into that fearful deep-seated hatred, he has managed to divide the country both on a large scale…and on a smaller scale…dividing friends, families, races, and cultures in a manner so toxic, so charged, that I worry about our ability to rebound.
I was confident there was no possible way this country would elect a man to lead us who admitted to avoiding paying taxes for his entire adult life to the very government he now wanted to represent, who bragged about sexually groping women simply because he “could,” a man who is a known playboy with his hand in the cookie jar every chance he gets, a man who (while running for president) had the audacity and ignorance to propose and encourage violence to get his way, a man who repeatedly sounded like a tantrum throwing 5 year old nearly every time we saw him debate. I just never imagined that someone like Trump would ever stand the remote chance of obtaining a respected role like the presidency…I had more confidence in my country than that. Especially with his contender being Hillary Clinton. While not perfect, she had long standing political experience, she had devoted her life to standing up for women, and she could complete a fucking educated thought with responsible, thought out responses…whereas Trump jumped from one fourth grade word to the next, from one self pat on the back to another, from one half-brained thought to yet another self pat on the back, from one easily triggered childish backlash to the effortless throwing around of bombing threats. The man left me utterly speechless during his debates. I was sure that he was far too off base to ever actually win. So I laughed it off.
Like so many others, I thought Hillary had this one in the bag. And like so many others, the result of this election has left me feeling like I’ve been gutted, like the country that I took pride in…had faith in…had somehow been hijacked by hate. When election night began, I had an ominous feeling. But I convinced myself that we had nothing to worry about. That the polls and political predictions were dead on and knew far more than I. However, as election night marched on, I felt that dread grow. It was a nightmare that wouldn’t end. Each time another state was given to Trump, I felt another sliver of hope vanish. And the dread in my gut ballooned. Once I finally realized it was over and he had won, I cried. Hard. I cried for my country. I cried for its people. I cried for what felt like the sudden death of growth and progress that had been fought for over so many years and tears. I cried for children who were watching a bully be granted the biggest prize of all. I cried for aspiring girls, for ambitious women, for all the “fat, ugly pigs” and “nasty women” out there whom he’d made to feel worthless. I cried for the uncertainty of our planet if led by a man who dismissed science and global warming as a hoax. I cried for the looming instability of peace when left in the hands of someone so egotistically and irrationally trigger happy and unwilling to listen to advisors on world issues.
But mostly, I just cried. Because it felt as if the racist hate of the world had come out of hiding and raped America of its love and unity in an unexpected, and unprecedented night raid. But I wasn’t alone…far from it.
It’s now being said that Trump’s campaign was just that…a campaign…nothing more. That he chose a target audience and played right into what they wanted to hear. I know this, to an extent. But I also know that my gut feelings on character are rarely wrong and that if people show you who they are, it’s usually because that’s who they are. After all, how often do people put great effort into faking despicable characteristics, while hiding their best traits? It’s always the other way around. I also know that human beings, when facing uncertainty and shock, will grasp for some sort of rationale, some kind of self-soothing peace of mind to convince themselves that all will be ok. It’s basic self preservation to do so.
I truly hope that his campaign does not foretell his presidency. I hope, for the sake of our country, that this hate that has been unleashed will be somehow rectified…that the division upon which his entire campaign was based was merely a con man’s tool to be elected…that there is some aspect of hope in him that I have missed.
Regardless of how he got here, or how we feel about it, or what his campaign tactics were…this is where we are…treading dangerous waters. He will be our president for the next four years. It’s our responsibility to put our differences aside, to make every effort to come together, unify the nation, and just be grown ups. We must be our own life raft.
If we are to resist the division that has so quickly and easily reemerged, we must do so either with Trump, or despite him. Either way, our children are watching. They are watching our every move and counting on us for their future security.
Despite all of the ways we are different as people, we all share the most basic quality…biology. We are one species…let us not use hate to self destruct. Let us rely on love, compassion, and unity to light the way. It’s the path of least resistance to survival.
“Humanity is our one common thread. We differ in every other way imaginable: culture, race, religion, opinion, sexual preference, personality…and so on and so on. We are infinitely different…but ALL human. Isn’t that enough common ground? Must we force uniformity and resist individuality? What a boring existence that would be.” ~ from 2010
~ Chick Hughes
“Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.” ~ Roger Ebert
“It’s impossible,” said pride.
“Its risky,” said experience.
“Its pointless,” said reason.
“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.
This is my favorite of the many exquisitely poetic quotes scattered throughout Château de Gudanes, a website following the restoration of a 1700’s French chateau. A huge undertaking fueled by pure passion for restoring what was once, and what will again be, a French gem. As I scroll through the images and the thoughts of those charting the progress, I am lost in the beauty of not only the property, the landscape, and the architecture…but also in the romance and charm with which the story is documented. As I watch the transformation of this centuries old architectural masterpiece, as I live vicariously through the images and anticipate the treasures unfolded inside , as I long to aimlessly wander the french countryside…I look forward to getting lost in love with each and every virtual visit to Château de Gudanes.
Given the choice of what to watch, I will almost always opt for a documentary. While watching this particular one, I became captivated…by the family, by the story, by the blemished humanity, by the unconditional love, by the heart. This story consists of countless layers of love, of dissection, of self analysis, of emotional maturity, of an understanding that one will never fully understand the boundless complexities that love unleashes on humanity. And yet at the very core of the documentary lies an intelligent attempt to understand what we know we never will. Watching or reading such stories leaves me hopelessly and passionately in love with the human heart (and all of its infinite capabilities) in a world that so often does the opposite.
Stories We Tell is such an inspiration to the heart. To love without end. To overcome without bitterness. To ceaselessly grow, to endure, and to transcend death. And to constantly self analyze in an attempt to better understand the heart’s untapped potential. This film was just that…an attempt that left me in tears, in thought…in love.
The entire documentary is available here:
~ Chick Hughes
Times together that once were
Days of past, for granted taken
Days of future, forever shaken
Chances thrown away, I curse
To never start anew, nothing worse
Regrets I shout for all to hear
Hopes I guard, their ruin, I fear
I close my eyes and see your face
Drink it in, your soul, your grace
To touch you, hold you, see you too
Your smell, your voice, your eyes shine true
A dream I dream that’s never to be
One dream plus two, alive only in me
With selfless release of love locked away
Let go… ’tis yesterday, some may say
With arrogant self proclaimed wisdom astray
Patience, one day, others will say
But if I might, if I may
With innocent desire, child-like greed at play
Seize the day…this day I say.
Today! Today! …this day, I say.
~ Chick Hughes
“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” ~ James Dean
Nothing sparks one’s imagination, evokes one’s emotions, or speaks to one’s soul like a good book. For both the reader and the writer, the words inspire thought, create passion, and expose vulnerability.
As a reader, I find Eleanor Herman’s Sex With the Queen (a collection of sordid extramarital affairs carried on by some of history’s most highly respected and, as it turns out, sexually starved queens) to be a refreshing reminder of our perfectly imperfect humanity. With each forbidden frolic recounted by Herman, I was able to brush up on hundreds of years of risque royal romping outside the marital bedroom. Not only was I captivated by the author’s nefarious tales of wedded betrayal proving the lengths we, as sexual beings, will go to in order to sate our insatiable appetite for physical intimacy (even when met with certain death as standard archaic punishment)…but I was, once again, blown away by the sheer power of love itself…an engulfing emotion, a trance-inducing spell, a heart hijacking…prompting us to break rules, breach trust, and bring down marital houses.
As a writer, I was captured by her candidly prefaced description of what it’s like, as an author, to put herself out there (heart and soul) with written words and await the merciless criticism that will likely be hurled in her soul-baring direction…most of which she is willing to withstand if only to reach one reader who – like herself – finds liberating understanding and literary growth from her writing. Herman’s sentiments ring true with any writer who has ever written from the heart, unbridled and uncensored.
“Putting a first book out there for the world to read is like standing on a podium naked and asking people to judge you, body and soul. This is because each book is a clear reflection of its author, her personality, her thoughts and experience, her way of looking at the world. Judgement, therefore, will not only be about her writing, but about…her soul! It is extremely frightening to take that step up to the podium, utterly exposed; the least bit of jiggle, cellulite, or sagging clearly visible to potentially cruel judges. It is also an exhilarating experience when the judges agree the results are pretty good, and any minor jiggle can be forgiven.” ~ Eleanor Herman
To reveal oneself through words is to brave, dwelling within us, the inner inhibiting troll.
To break down walls and relinquish control.
To write from the heart, to bare one’s soul.
To break free from the repressed literary whole.
Feel, write, feel, repeat.
~ Chick Hughes