She Said: THAT’S NOT HIM–But Is It Us?

She Said: THAT'S NOT HIM--But Is It Us?

There’s a new show that I have been eagerly watching. It was hailed as a series to replace or at least echo PARENTHOOD and so far yes–it definitely pulls us into a family. There’s a couple, pregnant with triplets, but when the 3rd to be delivered dies, they adopt a child abandoned that night and brought into the hospital’s nursery. (That baby’s mother had died; the father felt unable to raise the child.) The child is black, later named Randall. The young parents go home with a son and daughter and this adopted son. Later Randall’s father resurfaces. Oh, but there’s so much more to this complicated tale.

The show is called THIS IS US. Nice title. The highlighted US, in the logo above, might be saying something about the US–United States.

But let me tell you another story, briefly. Three months ago, I was at a party. And a woman sitting across from me brought up the man that was running for president. She was praising this guy and I had to say, “But what about his rallies. He mocks people with disabilities. He mocks minorities. He has people thrown out and then folks in the crowd beat up on other folks.”

She smiled at me across the table as if I were her child. “Oh that’s not him,” she said. It echoed in my head for days:  THAT’S NOT HIM. THAT’S NOT HIM.

So we have: THIS IS US–a family blazing a new trail of love and inclusion. They are all actors telling a story, a story I want to believe in.

And we have: THAT’S NOT HIM, a kinda-actor, who now takes on the role of president of the United States. Was everything I saw during his rallies an act?  Cause I feel as if I’m awakening from a bad dream and would like to turn the channel and keep watching THIS IS US instead. I want to believe in THAT creation. The other, those rallies–to me they are the stuff of nightmares. And I’ve read plenty of books and watched enough pre WWII films to know that presenting yourself as ONE person and then reversing and trying to be someone else is scary stuff. YES, the female candidate yelled and berated him occasionally–she was defending herself, drawn into this entire pre-election period that became its own SWAMP. WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS. I want to believe that all the negatives of the election was NOT US.

So I’m confused and saddened. That’s all I will say. Others have weighed in with their feelings. And I am open to that. One friend quoted RUMI, the 13th century Persian poet:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.

The world is too full–words cannot describe what we have on this planet–the grass, the love between two people, the splendor of birth that occurs between humans and all creatures–birds in the air, seed pods falling from the trees, whales leaping through oceans.

If I had to prize and hold dear something RIGHT NOW that I could say THIS IS US –it would be my family, who shares my love of peace and diversity, who believes in kindness and the power of talk before shouting and belittling. I would also prize my eyes and my brain, because I can read and read some more. I can fill my mind and my soul with the beauty of ideas that is inclusive and free from hate. (there is so much hate and anger on the internet–and yet goodness too).

Here is the poet, Mary Oliver from an essay in her new book UPSTREAM:

I read my books with diligence, and mounting skill, and gathering certainty, I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life…You must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.   

Here is a father, Aaron Sorkin, writing to his daughter. I think he is saying THIS IS US.

We get involved. We do what we can to fight injustice anywhere we see it—whether it’s writing a check or rolling up our sleeves. …we fight for the families that aren’t (insulated from this fear). We fight for a woman to keep her right to choose. We fight for the First Amendment and we fight mostly for equality—not for a guarantee of equal outcomes but for equal opportunities. We stand up.

The battle isn’t over, it’s just begun. (YOUR) Grandpa fought in World War II and when he came home this country handed him an opportunity to make a great life for his family. I will not hand his granddaughter a country shaped by hateful and stupid men. Your tears last night woke me up, and I’ll never go to sleep on you again.

When each and everyone of us gathers at Thanksgiving, we can pledge that we want all Americans to continue to form the fabric that this immigrant nation wove. THIS IS US, ALL OF US. We don’t want families torn apart or their future being that knock at the door. We can volunteer–one hour a week, one day a week or run an errand for the family we know with two working parents and a hectic schedule or a disabled grandparent.

AND READ. I’ll have more about that to come.

But today I am sharing Andrea Dunlap’s  reading list. SEE BELOW.

She is a writer and these works follow the old saying: Live in someone else’s shoes. LEARN EMPATHY. Maybe that’s what was missing when the woman across the table at the party said to me: THAT’S NOT HIM. Sorry. You cannot be a human being and watch what went down at those rallies and applaud. It was or is at least a part of him with a big lack of empathy and understanding for another’s soul, another’s life. Of course, you can believe anything you want to believe.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole
White Girls by Hilton Als
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

Thanks to Andrea Dunlap; Thanks to the Huffington Post. Read more here.

 

8 thoughts on “She Said: THAT’S NOT HIM–But Is It Us?

  1. OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN wrote these words to a song he wrote with RICHARD RODGERS in 1945…..How did he know then, what we know now??
    YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE
    When you walk through a storm
    Hold your head up high
    And don’t be afraid of the dark
    At the end of the storm
    Is a golden sky
    And the sweet silver song of a lark.
    Walk on through the wind, Walk on through the rain, Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart, And you’ll never walk alone, You’ll never walk alone……

    And we won’t walk alone, any of us, because we are a nation under God.

    • Wow, yes. It still haunts me. This was a church group organized to meet new people. We were to be with them again AFTER the election. I did not go. My husband did and there was no discussion. But five out of the eight voted for him. Awful.

  2. On Sunday our associate pastor gave an excellent Children’s Story. She asked for volunteers. A boy and an girl came forward. The girl was holding a tube of toothpaste. The boy was told to keep on squeezing the tube until it was empty. She thanked them and asked for two more volunteers. They were then asked to put all of the squeezed toothpaste back into the tube. Laughter and utter confusion from the volunteers… Then the pastor said ” Once hateful words are spoken you can never take them back”.

    I do not believe those words spoken by our President elect can be reversed, nor will the behavior change…the markings of a very sick man. The driving deviance down of our society a result of all the hatred that has been incited is beyond sad.

    • Wow, I wish they would do something like that in my church. They are fearful of the collection box. This is awesome, Carol. Thanks for sharing it. Hugs, Beth

  3. Great job, Beth! You have a wonderful talent to put your feelings into words to share! Very therapeutic I’m sure for you!
    I read most of your posts, and I’ll share them with friends & family.
    I just started watching “This is Us”. Going to put it on weekly record, so I don’t miss any episodes.
    Thanks, Hugs & Peace!
    Gay

  4. Thanks so much for this, Gay. Makes my day. Truly. And I’m so glad that you found THIS IS US.
    Every so often I just want to watch something that gets me right in the heart. And this one does.

    Miss you, miss hanging out, think about the wonderful days of raising our children. We have been blessed.

    With love, Beth

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