Where do we go now?

It seems quiet here today. Caitlyn’s FIRST Lego League team had a field trip to Highline’s Marine Science and Technology Center, and even the kids seemed subdued, somewhat surprising for a handful of geeky 12 year olds. We parents carried on, shellshocked, exhausted, grieving. I expect there will be many, many conversations to come, but everything I could think of to say to people today sounds like empty platitudes in my head, so there were many moments of just looking at each other. “Yeah…” one of us says. “Yeah,” the other one responds.

Shock. Anger. Denial. Depression. Bargaining/Compromise. Adaptation. This is our path. Around here, among the folks I generally hang out with, we are mourning the potential for a gentle, graceful path toward the change we need. Addressing climate change. Correcting injustice and inequality. Transitioning to a future that works for all of us. The glittering promise of a Clinton presidency was that we’d made some progress forward in the last eight years and that we would be able to keep making slow, gradual steps toward the goal. I don’t know that anyone expected that we’d get to that better future quickly (if they did, they haven’t been paying attention), but at least we’d still be moving forward.

It seems that there are lots of people out there who don’t see a personal route into that better future and who would feel more secure if we could rewind time. Who don’t believe that the better future as it has been presented has room for them. If you have always earned your bread with the labor of your hands and the jobs (if they still exist at all) are now done by robots, small wonder if you don’t trust that the future (with its self-driving trucks and environmental regulations, etc.) might include a valued place for you.

The likelihood of graceful progress looks a lot lower today. I don’t doubt that we’ll get there, eventually, but it’s going to be a longer, harder road. It’s likely to be messy and ugly, but ultimately it comes down to this: time doesn’t go backwards. No matter what anyone has promised, the golden glory days, if they ever existed at all, are gone, and no amount of rhetoric is going to bring them back.

What we need is a truly inclusive vision for the future: investment and infrastructure for all communities (for instance, green energy jobs for lots of people building out a renewable energy infrastructure), respect and dialogue among all parties (let’s stop calling each other stupid or damned, and actually try listening to what each other finds valuable and necessary), where everyone contributes (no more tax havens and loopholes for the wealthy) and everyone benefits.

I choose to trust that the flow of history is toward more (freedom, equality, opportunity), not less. So, dig in. Stand strong for the progress made to-date. Learn to truly listen. Reach out to those who have been left out and bring them forward, because we are stronger together. And dismantle every blockade Fear puts between here and our better future.

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