“Children in cages. Dear God, what have we become?”

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I’ve been careful—haven’t you?

Ever since my nation seated a dangerous bully in the Oval Office, I’ve been filtering the news for the sake of my sanity. I’ve relied on my belief in the Law of Attraction, doing my best to focus on the positive in hopes that it might invite more. It’s been all I could do. The relentless assault on progress, decency, and truth has been too much to bear.

And then, they came for the children.

Yesterday, the man in the White House had to answer to critics, even from within his own party—former First Lady, Laura Bush, notably among them—regarding the human rights violations his regime has undertaken. Children, separated from their parents at our nation’s southern border, herded into internment camps. 

A friend posted on Facebook: “Children in cages. Dear God, what have we become?”

It was the response typed neatly beneath it that stopped me in my tracks:

“What we always were.”

My fellow Americans, think about it.

We are a nation where land stolen from its indigenous people was worked by people stolen from their indigenous land.

We are a nation where tens of thousands of indigenous children were ripped from their parents and forced into Indian boarding schools, their families and their culture desecrated.

We are a nation where more than 100,000 of our own citizens were imprisoned during World War II because of their Japanese heritage.

We are a nation that elected a man who mocked the disabled, who denounced Mexicans as thugs and rapists, who said of women: “grab them by the pussy,” and who offered up a slogan that should have sounded a clanging alarm.

My fellow Americans, they told us who they are.

“Make America Great Again.”

What might that mean at a time when so many of us thought America was at its greatest yet? We had our first black president. Universal healthcare. Marriage equality. We were moving in an ever more inclusive and thoughtful direction. What, then, was this “great” America to which some wanted a return?

Was America great when smallpox blankets were handed to indigenous people? Was it great when slaves were whipped to death, their children sold? Was it great when drinking fountains were labeled “White” and “Colored,” when folks showed up at lynchings with picnic dinners? Was it great when women feared reporting rape or abuse? Was it great when they died in back-alley abortions? Was it great when citizens lived in fear that someone would learn the gender of the person they loved?

Or was America on its way to becoming truly great when it began breaking down those barriers and saying, “No more! We are better than this”?

As it turns out, we are a nation so deeply divided that many of us could not fathom the backlash stirring in our midst—even when it was right before our eyes.

The MAGA mob showed us who they are, falling in line behind a leader who used the same tactics as Hitler, inflaming racist tensions and vowing to shut down our borders so fully that no “others” could get in.

They let us feel who they are, defending the Second Amendment over the bodies of American children gunned down in school rooms by automatic weapons—their right to own weapons of war trumping our collective right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

They demonstrated they would deliver on every promise of their leader’s campaign, and this latest turn is no exception. Tearing small children away from their only anchor in the world is not collateral damage. It is a plan derived directly from our nation’s dark history. As slave owners knew, and as the architects of the Indian boarding schools knew, the way to cripple a group of people for generations to come is to dismantle their families.

My fellow Americans, our chickens have come home to roost—and even the most sensitive among us cannot afford to turn a blind eye.

Yes, I believe in the Law of Attraction. I believe in focusing on the positive. I believe that all I can control is my own life, my own sphere, and trust that will have a ripple effect.

But I also believe in standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Every one of us who feels for people being mistreated under this regime must act on our empathy. Otherwise, we become the Germans pretending that a steady fall of human ash is just a flurry of snow.

That may sound like hyperbole, but as any historian will tell you, the way the Nazis accomplished genocide was by degrees. Propaganda. Lies. Aggressive nationalism. A wearing down of people who might have objected.

I, like so many of you, feel worn down—yes. The daily news since this regime took office is a relentless pummeling. It is disheartening. Retreat becomes necessary for self-preservation. I get it.

But here’s the thing: no one else is coming to save us. It was an inside job, getting us to this point; it has to be an inside job, getting us out.

Yesterday, the bully had to address the human rights violations he is perpetrating, but his response was textbook. Lies. Blame. Gaslighting, the likes of which every dictator in history has employed. The only innovation in this case is “the tweet;” all else is borrowed from the worst chapters in history.

Still, I do not believe we are doomed to a repeat.

I won’t tell you we can “namaste” the tiki torches out of neo-Nazi hands, but I do believe the strength of the liberal, progressive community lies in our heart. And I do believe, at times like this, our empathy is calling us to action.

We can focus on the positive while writing and calling our representatives in Congress. We can fully feel our divinity as we march in protest. We can trust that the Law of Attraction is working as we campaign for candidates who will serve the public good. We can honor our empathy by drying our tears and raising our voices for those being silenced.

We can demonstrate that a truly great America is possible—and it will be a place where progress, decency, and truth prevail.

~

author: K.C. Wilder

Image: @waylonlewis/Instagram

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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K.C. Wilder

K.C. Wilder is the author of novels, including the bestselling Fifty Ways to Leave Your Husband and the YA paranormal tale Haunted: A Heather Hollow Story. Her short fiction has appeared in A Kind of Mad Courage, Merry Chick Lit, Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Words, and The Providence Journal. She’s a contributor to The Huffington Post. For three years, she blogged weekly about women, adventure, and creativity at Girl on a Wire. She’s currently at work on her next novel.

 

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