The Wait is Almost Over

The wait is almost over, and our future is in the hands of fate. The candidates have spoken until they’re hoarse, their supporters have sweated and stumped and struggled to do all that’s possible to influence the outcome. The media have used up every last word of description, deception and dogged accuracy. We are at the brink. I am hopeful but not confident that the people will rise to the task of making a thoughtful and reasonable choice, and not fall prey to the lies and misinformation, I am hopeful but not confident that the dirty tricks will not work, and that the voting machines will. I am hopeful that my candidate will prevail and have the opportunity to do the rest of the very good and some less good that he has on his list. The winds seem to be in his favor.
But still I puzzle over our increasingly schizoid takes on reality — we on the left and the right and in the lonely and uncomfortable middle. For me, the break with what seemed others’ shared reality began in my college years. I remarked to someone on Facebook that I had had a brief romance with the ideas of Ayn Rand, the grand justification of total selfishness because We Really Are Better. Rich food for a 20-year-old who still knew everything. And then John Kennedy was murdered right in front of us. And I woke up to my shared humanity. I truly believe that the turmoil of the 60s began right there, not with the anti-war movement or all the other movements that started up at about the same time. It was that shift in vision that gave a good many of us just coming into our majority new eyes that produced a curiously jaded vision of the world. I remember Molly Ivins’ account of how such a radical Democrat as she had grown up in, and from, such a staunch southern conservative family. “I first learned that they were lying about race,” she said. “And then I learned they were lying about everything.”
So it was with me. Once I left home and college and went to make my fortune in California, I parted with my family’s world view because I had come into a different world. I learned that Catholics Could be trusted to think independently, that African-Americans Were fully human, that backwoods Ozarks hillbillies like me really Didn’t have a leg up on the rest of the world. That, in fact, we were remarkably uneducated and ill-informed.
Having spent now more than 35 years back in the fold, as it were, I find that nothing has changed all that much here. Some of that is pleasant, like the relaxed pace of life, the thoughtful approach to living life as you believe it should be lived, the prudence, the frugal nature of most of these people.
But what about the bumpkins? What about the folks so out of touch with any larger reality that they believe in black helicopters and United Nations plots to herd country residents into concentration camps (called, in a sinister voice, “apartments”) so the land can be given back to the critters. Really. And they fall for every scare that’s offered, and stumble into the local newspaper office begging for help because “They’re coming to take my land.” They have no idea that the boogeyman is actually the fear mongering misinformation toadies on Fox News and others, willing to tell any far-fetched lie so long as it helps describe the dangerous world out there, so vicious that you’d best keep your head down and we’ll tell you what you need to know. I spent the better part of 20 years, off and on, writing for The Quill and trying to be as clear and informed as I possibly could.I spent several more teaching beginning English, often as a second language, to Ozarks natives who mostly didn’t know that the language they spoke wasn’t quite English. They just thought the way they spoke, the “We seen him when he done it” stuff was because they were dumb. Well, they were, but not because of the language. The correct term is “cultural isolation.” And it’s isolation of a particular sort, because of past run-ins with the government, from moonshiners to marijuana growers to land grabbers in the national park system. They don’t trust government. And so any tale made up that pegs the government as the villain is red meat.
So they fall for the property rights snake oil pitches, custom manufactured by the lead mining industry. And the Tea Party hocus pocus, funded by the Koch Brothers. And the whole right wing religious blab, a true devil’s mix of charlatan end times hucksters and misogynist “promise keepers” who seem to believe a wife works better with a foot on her neck. It’s what god wants, they say. Those folks have a god in their hearts that I wouldn’t have in my house.
So here we are, at the brink, knowing that all those folks who are confused by made-up stories and fearful of the future are going to vote, and there may be more of them than there are of us. What can we do. Well, we can vote. And we can be hopeful. And we can educate those around us, though it’s a little late for that. And if there is a god at work in this race to win the future or to step off the path into the darkness, let us begin the work immediately to learn this lesson offered — that unlike the 1960s when we all just threw up our hands and went off into the country to grow a garden, we Are the garden as well as the gardeners, and we have many seeds to plant. It is not a time to falter, whatever the outcome. It is a time to invest the work of our hands and minds to bring growth, and light, and food for thought. It is time to grow intelligence. And understanding. And clarity. And consciousness, to feed a desperately hungry nation. Vote. And then get back to work.

About yarnspinnerpress

Story teller, retired journalist, author, folksinger, folklorist, gardener.
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11 Responses to The Wait is Almost Over

  1. Jerre Miller says:

    Oh Marideth – this is a mirror held up to so many of us. Why and how we all came here (and you came back), how life changed for all of us in the 60’s and how we’ve come to deeply believe our trials were lessons. I think it’s why we are so perplexed at this choice we will all make tomorrow. We did change the world in so many ways and for the first time a shiver of fear says there are those who would reverse it all. You are always a grand voice in any dark corner. Keep shining…………

  2. Bebe Wood says:

    Thank You !!!

  3. Marcy W says:

    As so often, Marideth, your clarity of vision, memory, and expression echo what I wish mine could be. Thank you.

  4. Jan Wells says:

    You do say it so well. I’m also from your generation & know the struggles that come with being a liberal in this part of the world. We lived several years in Minn. where I found I could talk politics without whispering. There are so many things that frighten me about this election but can’t see that I’m able to to anything about it besides voting…..and say a little prayer for some sanity. Thanks for a great read. Jan

  5. Judy Cloud says:

    Such clarity. For the first time , in a long time, I feel this small band of radicals may be growing. Whatever the outcome on Tuesday I feel a bit better knowing there are others out there who understand my dilemma. Springfield born and bred—– shamed by the intolerence surrounding me, but seeing a generation coming along that sees it in a different way.. There is a glimmer of hope.

  6. You have said it all and said it clearly.

  7. S. Rogers says:

    I grew up in the Ozarks and love many things about it, but I have to agree with several of your points. I left the Ozarks in the mid 80s. I left behind intolerance and unfounded fears of anything that is different or anyone that is not white, male, heterosexual and Protestant. I felt especially valued as an employee and a human being while living on the east coast and in AZ. When I came back to the Ozarks in 2006 after being away for 20 years, I sort of assumed there had been advancements in the areas that you discussed, but I still have a footprint on my neck from a far right, male dominated, employer in SWMO; thankfully, now a former employer. I roll my eyes at “the sky is falling” viral e-mails that people send to the universe without taking just a moment to check whether the subject matter is truth or fiction (not limited to the Ozarks natives). We just have to chip away at the mountain of fear and misinformation one conversation at a time, while we hope that those who influence our youth can help break the chain.

  8. Betty Craker Henderson says:

    Thank you, Maradeth, You have put it into the words that many people would like to and are unable to articulate or to write. It helps so many others when it is written out strong and clear. I always appreciate this type of writing so much and since I agree with all your points anyway I did want to comment. Now, off to the polls with fingers crossed that whoever of the many choices to fill the office chairs will do good for the common man..perhaps not with the highest of hopes but certainly a long long way from giving up. We may be stumbling but so far we have not fallen.

  9. Helen Shore says:

    Thank you, Marideth, for reminding me we can, and do, change. Since those days at Butterfield Grade School, like you, I found another world. Thank you for putting words to my thoughts and feelings..

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