Are you feeling heartsick at this time too? I am. I want to address this directly.
This is normally the time when I write a WELCOME TO A NEW ACADEMIC YEAR @HASTAC message of cheer and hope. I'll write that message later but, today, I want to address, urgently, a feeling of "heartsickness" I'm hearing and experiencing everywhere, and before we can be engaged, active, and optimistic, we may first need to admit and understand the heartsickness. Are you feeling it too?
I have never had a semester start with so many people, of every age and status and with every variation of identity, say to me that they feel the world is giving them particular, crushing stress right now and they need a mentor who shares their identity to help them through.
- One friend, who is white and identifies as "straight," said to me that he doesn't remotely identify with those crazed Trump supporters but he needs guidance on how to "be" in the world right now and isn’t sure where to turn.
- Another friend, who is young and African American and identifies as "lesbian," said to me that she doesn't feel anyone understands what she is going through now in this historical moment and desperately needs an older mentor to show that she can and will make it through.
These are just two examples, chosen because they seem so opposite yet share so much. It's not useful to even begin to think about who might have a more or less useful case to make, for certainly that is true. At the same time, you cannot rally energies for change if you feel isolated and separate and unacknowledged in your pain. I bet I've been in two dozen of these heartsick, face-to-face conversations and probably two or three hundred if I include my virtual friends.
Why do allies feel divided? Why do so many feel sick at heart?
I feel it too. What's going on?
Dr. D's Diagnosis: This is a Pathogenic Time.
It's making us ALL ill in such profound and alienating ways that we feel heart-sick personally and are not tracking that it is a world-wide epidemic. We each feel individual variations relevant to who we are but the disease itself doesn't discriminate. It infects us all.
Reading Sartre, writing in the 1940s, on the disease of anti-Semitic propaganda makes me understand that spewing hatred and chaos and misinformation in all directions is exactly the tactic of fascistic populist movements. It ropes us all in as victims while dividing us as actors.
Think about that, what it means if we all feel personally singled out and victimized.
I'd love comments from anyone who has constructive ideas about how to get past this intense feeling in order to feel like we all have agency, personally and collectively, in the world.
So, now: WELCOME TO A NEW ACADEMIC YEAR @HASTAC. I mean that.
HASTAC is a great, welcoming, energetic community dedicated to "Changing the Way We Teach and Learn." Our other motto: "Difference is not our deficit. It's our operating system." HASTAC offers hope. However . . . as anyone who has ever worked in trauma and self-care knows, you cannot move on to hope without first acknowledging material, existential, spiritual, emotional conditions that mitigate against hope.
I hope this message of solidarity at a very difficult time offers insight that is helpful to you. Please do offer any advice, tricks, tactics, services, organizations that might be of use in the "Comments" section below.