Today, in the midst of the political and cultural turmoil sweeping this country, we watched as the moon eclipsed the sun: one of those breathtaking moments of terrifying beauty, courtesy of the fierce, gorgeous natural world in which we build our civilizations.
Last night, I spoke to my youngest sister, a teacher, about how she was going to protect the eyes of her third and fourth-graders. My sister lives in Lexington, Kentucky. Our conversation soon drifted into her anxiety about the announcement that racist, anti-Semitic, and heavily armed marchers were planning to stage a large protest in Lexington soon. Marchers who are determined to tear down our civilization.
How was she going to protect the eyes—and hearts and minds—of her school children against such hatred and fury?
Naturally, my thoughts turn to what we witnessed in Charlottesville, Virginia—and in the aftermath. A mother who will mourn, for the rest of her days, the deliberate murder of her beloved, principled, brave daughter, by a young American terrorist who used his car as a weapon. A president who says there are some very fine people among the Nazis and the White Supremacists—and no difference between those who come heavily armed to vanquish Jews and blacks, and those who resist them. Republican Senators who have buried their moral compasses in the dark, dusty closets of polling places. They are shoring up their base: playing to people who blame others for their woes, the blacks, the Jews. The Other.
We have a base, too. Our movement of over a million moms, narrowly speaking, uniting to protect our right to a livable planet. All of you. But more broadly: the base that is the majority of people in this country, people whose families arrived from elsewhere around the globe, people who cherish peace and freedom and a right to pursue their dreams. People who face the world with kindness and compassion, not anger and hatred.
Our base, a base built on love and cherishment, will win. We will do whatever we have to do, and whatever we can do, to make sure that we don’t let our country descend for much longer into a place where white men can march the streets carrying Nazi banners, and inciting violence. Let’s not get confused here: Those marches aren’t about freedom of speech, which does not require machine guns. They are about declaring civil war.
I never thought I would live to see this. My mother, half of whose family was murdered at Auschwitz, was certain that she would live to see this, that the world would never be safe. She was right. That is why we can never forget. And we can never appease.
I hope that what we saw, out of Washington, D.C., was a brief moment of the total eclipse of our values, a fiery fringe burning on.
It is up to us to remember that the sun does not disappear. We should not panic. But this eclipse left me with a deep, vivid, and sad impression: we have much more work to do than we ever realized.