We are in the process of moving, which is the worst torture ever devised for pack rat-human hybrids. The list of things that I should throw out but simply don't want to is legion. Dried roses from my first wedding anniversay, now 15 years old and crumbling with age. Candles of all sizes, shapes, scents and colors, in various stages of meltdown. Rose-scented, lavendar-scented and honeysuckle-scented French milled soaps, still in the boxes they were puchased in as sets, oh so many sales ago.
However, the item that I keep passing by, using again and then re-determining to get rid of is my "Peace, Hope, Change" tie-dye t-shirt, a relic of the 2008 campaign to elect Barack Obama.
It's not that I've totally given up on President Obama; I certainly don't believe that President McCain would have been a palatable alternative. It's just that I can't put the shirt on without wincing now - its bright colors so hopeful, so innocent, its message so clear and uncontrovertible.
Peace. We are now in three wars. I fear that we will be in Afghanistan throughout my son's growing-up and perhaps into the years when he will be eligible for the draft, over a decade from now. It's not the President's fault: he very clearly told us he would pursue military options in Afganistan. I am to blame for pinning my hope on a colorful slogan on a tie-dyed t-shirt.
Hope. With GE CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, champion off-shorer of jobs, and plutocrat extrodinaire as the latest exhibit "A" (in his role as Presidential economic adviser) that the game is well and truly rigged, hope is in pretty short supply right now. People keep losing jobs and homes. Tent cities filled with the homeless continue to grow. Food pantries can't keep up. And the corporate-driven agenda threatens to take more and more from what has been the American middle class way of life. It was just a word on a shirt. A silly, cheerful tie-dye shirt. But I believed it. And now I feel more hopeless than at any time in my middle-aged life.
Change. Well, we've had some change, that I'll grant. The tenor of policitical discourse had gotten continually worse. We now hear without respite from the "tea party". Congress is probably de-funding many of the programs that I care about - public broadcasting, the arts, environmental protection. Schools across the country are having to cut staffing and programs. States are beginning to make it illegal to be in unions. It's change all right, but not change that I can believe in. It's change that I wish I could pretend not to see. But I can't pretend. And every time I put on that shirt- that silly tie-dyed t-shirt that gave me so much joy -the nature of what has changed is rubbed in my face.
So I should just get rid of the shirt, right? But I want to feel again the way I felt on Inauguration Day, crying tears of joy, thinking that balance had been restored and that finally, finally someone with some sense was going to be in charge. If I give away the shirt, if I put it in that Goodwill bag, I'm giving up my hope, admitting that I don't believe in the possiblity of change and peace.
So I put the shirt back in the drawer, or the laundry basket, or I put it on to wear to the gym. And I wonder: what should I do? What should any of us do who really want Peace, Hope, Change?