As someone who eats and breathes politics, I’m usually pretty quick to offer my take on a story, whether it’s solicited or not. Saying what’s on my mind has never been a problem for me.
So as the story of children being detained in cages at the U.S. – Mexico border first broke, I assumed I would sit down at my computer after my kids had gone to bed for the night. The plan was to write a post blasting Trump and his administration for pursuing such a craven policy and then brazenly lying about it.
Then I heard the audio of the children, and I realized this was different. The impact of those voices transcends politics as we know it, at least for me.
My default emotional state when Donald Trump does something stupid is anger, but not this time. Listening to those innocent kids crying for their parents took me to a different place. For the first time in as long as I can remember, my response was limited to a deep, gut-wrenching sadness.
Sure, part of it is undoubtedly my parental instincts kicking in. My wife and I have two sons, ages four and two, and the thought of anything happening to them in any way is the Sum of All Fears. I feel bad saying no to my boys when I need to work, and they want me to play Paw Patrol or watch “Scary Hot Wheels” on YouTube. Before I had kids, I didn’t know about that feeling you get throughout your body when you even think about something terrible happening to them. It’s indescribable for all the wrong reasons.
But the real root of my sadness goes beyond empathy for the children and their families. It’s a feeling of genuine hopelessness knowing that this is somehow not a bridge too far for our President and the millions of Americans who have somehow found a reason to rationalize these inhumane policies. If this isn’t the line, what is? As horrible as the news of the past few days has been, what worries me is what could come next. From everything I’ve seen, all bets are off. That’s terrifying.
How can I explain this world to my kids when I have no goddamned clue how to understand it myself? Sure, their skin tone and spoken language will likely shield them from the worst America is capable of, but how do you even begin to verbalize that kind of thought? I don’t know how to look my kids in the eye and tell them that their government values the lives of children their age differently based on what part of a map they were born in? I’d rather explain where babies come from in Pig Latin for an hour every day from now until they turn eighteen.
I was always taught that at the end of the day, there is more that unites Americans than divides us. I can’t say that with a straight face anymore. Knowing that people around me somehow consider these inhumane acts acceptable makes me wonder if there is, in fact, anything that does unite us anymore?
I didn’t want to listen to the footage of the children crying for their parents. I didn’t want to read the articles about members of the United States Senate being denied access to the detention facilities.
I didn’t want to look at the photos of children who should be exploring all the joys the world has to offer being locked up in cages like dogs who escaped into the neighborhood without tags.
I didn’t want to think about what my boys would sound like being dragged away from my wife and me, scared, confused, and alone.
This is abhorrent. Horrifying video shows migrant children crammed in cages like animals after being separated from their parents in America. All because #Trump wants to get “tough”. pic.twitter.com/JCMoh8VuXo
— Connor Gillies (@ConnorGillies) June 18, 2018
But I forced myself to do all of those things. Why? Because turning a blind eye to these atrocities is the functional equivalent of condoning them. I owe it to those poor kids to listen to them because I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t.
So what does all of this mean?
It’s simple. We have to remember.
I’m done hearing excuses from Democrats about how when they go low, we go high. That sentiment is a laudable one, but it assumes that going high will be seen as a sign of strength. In reality, we’re dealing with people who see civility as a clear sign of weakness, which means we need to alter our approach.
The mission should be simple. As long as it happens within the confines of the law, do whatever it takes to get these monsters the fuck out of office. The ends do justify the means; we can say that definitively because we know the consequence of half measures are children separated from their families and put into cages.
Donald Trump wanted to raise the stakes with this horrific policy to extort us into supporting his dumb ass wall? Fine, you’ve got our attention. The stakes are raised, which means we have to do whatever we can to strip this dictator-in-waiting of his Congressional majority. These people lack the testicular fortitude or basic human decency to stand up to Trump because they’re afraid of losing their jobs. It’s our job to ensure they do, one way or another.
Get serious. Get involved. Get mad. But most of all, get loud.
The unapologetically loud voices of decent, moral Americans who are willing to take a stand for their fellow human beings is the only way to silence the cries of those innocent children crying out for their mama and papa.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to check on my boys. Just because I can, which is something I’ll never take for granted.