I promise you, we cannot be amazed at the level we claim. This sandwich is amazing, these socks are amazing. The puppy, the fall leaves, butternut squash mac & cheese, the soccer goal, an engagement ring, that color of paint, an airfare deal, hair-ties, fall break, pizza, the bride, the baby, a book, I could go on….all have been described as “amazing”, just today. My coworker advises new students “never tell her something is amazing”, by way of introducing me. I correct that: some things are indeed amazing — most need a different descriptor word. We are not THAT amazed; if we were, we couldn’t get anything done.
For instance, we are many things:
We are dumbfounded that children were put in cages.
We are alarmed at the slide toward authoritarianism in our government.
We are stunned gun safety is not a priority.
We are aghast that refugees are characterized as criminals, and current immigrant policy devalues humans.
We are flabbergasted the President encourages grabbing women by the pussy.
We are horrified an American journalist can be dismembered ‘by accident’ in a foreign country without raising the ire of our President.
We are bewildered at the mockery of a disabled journalist by the President.
We are dismayed at the mockery of a sexual assault victim by the President.
We are disheartened at the mockery of a Gold-star mother by the President.
We are baffled no strong voices have emerged from the majority criticizing these behaviors; in these instances, acquiescence implies agreement.
We are dazed by the name-calling coming out of the White House.
We are confounded at the lack of relevant experience for the highest level of government appointees.
We are disturbed at the escalating number of opioid deaths, and the lack of regulation for big pharma. We are troubled by the numbers of teens, young adults, and the underemployed affected.
We are saddened that the baiji dolphin is now extinct, the first mammal in over 50 years to vanish. Its extinction is due completely to industrialization and man-made compromises to its habitat. We are shocked at the state of the coral reefs, and at the garbage in the oceans.
We are perplexed Flint still does not have clean drinking water.
We are distressed that our leaders are insulating themselves against real science and data about climate change.
We are concerned about the ice cap, and aquifers, and riparian rights.
And, while we are on the topic of resources, we are ashamed that the government now allows coal ash to be dumped into our rivers and lakes and freshwater resources. Don’t know what coal ash is? It was illegal to dump it previously, because it contains arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury.
We are disquieted that Education, arguably the most consistent path forward from poverty, is led nationally by a person with no education experience, who seeks to monetize it rather than create access.
We are discouraged that a senator in my state was a swing vote on the new tax bill, deciding that educators no longer deserve a tax break for their out-of-pocket classroom costs or their own continuing education, but he can write off the cost of his private jet.
And speaking of Education, we in my state of residence are led by the only U.S. governor without a college degree — and of course a college degree is not necessary for a fulfilling life, but in leadership it is necessary to negotiate and legislate economically, philosophically, responsibly, with others, or else (as happens here, to our chagrin) decisions get deferred (or sold) to big donors.
As amazing as all that — and more — continues to be, we are not amazed. But WE COULD BE.
We could be astonished by the number of new voters at the polls.
We could be thrilled at replacing stagnant incumbents.
We could be awakened to safeguard against voter suppression.
We could be delighted to see elected officials truly reflect the population, other than millionaire aging white and male. We could be electrified by new inclusive leadership.
We could be inspired by teen survivors to affect gun legislation.
We could be touched by compassion in welcoming marginalized people, and insure families stay together.
We could be galvanized toward inclusion of all peoples, equal in the eyes of the law, in marriages, in access to bathrooms, and in our communities.
We could be moved by victims sharing their trauma.
We could be energized by creating access to education, transportation, health care, grocery stores, jobs, for people in our most challenged neighborhoods.
We could be stirred to action that the inability to post bail is leading to prison overcrowding and first-time offender incarceration rates.
We could be thrilled with intelligent leaders who value science, and education, and research, natural resources and habitats, and clean water and clean air.
We are ready.
We can be renewed, and redeemed, and restored. Let’s amaze ourselves. Vote.