The state we are in

By Steve Harrison | Special to the Courier

I have moments of overwhelming dread. Usually, I can keep it in check, but this morning it got the best of me. As we were out for our morning walk, my husband John and I came across a pro-Trump flag flying alongside the Stars and Stripes proclaiming “F**k Biden” for all who might pass by. I was filled with sadness for the homeowner displaying the sign, for myself having to walk by, and anyone else who has to be affronted by the vulgarity.

I understand that people are angry. Just today I saw that gas prices have reached seven dollars a gallon in Silicon Valley and likely other locales in California. Our own $5-plus fuel at Arco is a bit much to take. I’m sure lots of people are blaming Biden or Newsom for the inflated prices, as if a political leader controls the profits made by oil companies. I know anger has grown since Covid, when everyone’s fear was heightened by the unknown, wanting to feel safe, yet aggravated by the limitations placed on us by perhaps well-meaning politicians trying to keep us all safe from the unknown.

I think of the anger and dissatisfaction the homeowner who is displaying the “F**k Biden” flag must feel and find myself mystified. This guy has made it. He lives in a $2 million-plus house and has lots of toys. He has “made it” by many people’s standards. And yet, I wonder about how happy this person is. He is the father of two little kids, and I wonder what he says when his children ask him what the message of the flag is. I’m guessing, given his support of Trump, that he is probably in favor of banning books or at least limiting access to them for fear that offensive themes (to him) might somehow scar or trigger his children, or at least prompt them to ask him to explain things he doesn’t want to acknowledge exist.

I’m all for free speech. Our gay flag flies proud. As a former teacher, I had my kids read and discuss novels that today probably wouldn’t even be available to them. And yet as I walked by the “F**k Biden” flag this morning, I found myself feeling like I had been kicked in the gut, much like I felt when many years ago I would pass “Yes on 8” yard signs. When I passed those signs, I had a similar response. I had to acknowledge that the person in that house wanted to take away my equality, my right to marry, and would probably like, if truth be told, to take away my right to love.

A movie just released, “Civil War,” brings to life the very real schism prevalent in America today and its explosive aftermath. I worry many citizens are bored or tired of what might be. There is such hate, such dissatisfaction, and everyone is free to share their opinions. The need for an adrenaline rush is high. The need to distract ourselves from the very real stresses of financial burdens, family obligations, aging, and social changes that confront us all at some point, is necessary. Why not just blow the whole place up? It would be exciting and it would certainly be distracting. And if you only are concerned about the moment and not the future, the cost of no longer “loving thy neighbor” but getting rid of them is not relevant. With my dread of civil war real, triggered by another’s right to free speech, I feel great sadness for the state we are in.


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