From Here on Out

Let me be clear, the conversation here is NOT intended to be about left or right, good or bad, conservative or liberal. We are not Democrat or Republican first — we are people first. This post is not about being bummed out at the election results — it’s about being afraid.

It’s about uncertainty as pertains to change that is surely coming down the pike for ALL Americans, but especially our less resilient and more dependent seniors, for whom the future looks very uncertain at best and terrifying at worst.

     ~ social security cuts forthcoming
     ~ comprehensive health care no longer available to retirees
     ~ community violence and displays of anger on the rise in neighborhoods
     ~ immigrants from some countries forced to register themselves with the state

Rhetoric around these and other changes in the way our country operates has been pervasive for many months now.

As a whole, seniors don’t feel they can embrace a “we’ll just tough it out for four years and then look to make a change” attitude. Lots of seniors don’t have the luxury of four years. And even if they do have time in terms of good health and sufficient resources, many seniors, myself included, are concerned there might be a series of sweeping steps backwards in terms of personal freedoms and civil liberties (reproductive and voting rights, and freedom of speech, for starters) due to changes in laws that will affect health care, policies with other nations, and the education and welfare of our children AND our elders.

We’re concerned — no, I’m concerned — about subtle shifts that may make us a nation less tolerant and faster and more willing to judge, scold, and harm others in the pursuit of proselytizing our own agenda. How naive I am, at nearly 70 years old, to think issues like voting rights, support for our elder community via social security, abortion, and living in a diverse community had already been resolved.

Additionally, people on both sides of the aisle are concerned about trusting those in power and those who report the supposed facts. As we have seen time and time again, we can barely trust the facts themselves without double checking through an independent source. What’s at stake is sweeping and significant, impacting far more people than the out-of-work miners, or steel workers in small, now-defunct rural towns.

What has to date been modeled by leaders from both sides in the form of decorum, compassion, generosity, good manners, diplomatic expertise, and a patience that at times has driven me crazy may be a thing of the past. How much positive change in our personal well-being will make us overlook the absence of these qualities in our leaders?

How are we going to survive and flourish? My question is not in the dramatic but more like, what will our country’s survival look like? Will we be able to grow and continue to be the greatest nation on our planet without accumulating a gob of enemies along the way? If you roll your eyes and say, “Geez, Antonia, you’re way overreacting,” well, so be it. If you hear me placing blame, that is NOT my intention. But people are scared, seniors especially so.

There is no manual on how to face change during these next few years. All will be affected. And so I ask the question again:  What will we do as seniors? As concerned and involved citizens? How will we continue to serve as role models for our children and our grandchildren and for all the younger members of our community without the fear seeping into our actions going forward? I’ve been asking myself this for months now. And I don’t have an answer that makes me sleep any easier.

I believe coping successfully is going to take more than prayer and faith and love and living as if. I think it’s going to take more than sharing uplifting quotes on social media. Burying your head in the sand won’t make it go away either.

Oh, how I abhor posting a blog that doesn’t present at least some ideas for improving our ability to let go of fear. But there is no clear answer to the challenge, much less a piece of advice to make it all better. That being said, I’m unwilling to ignore the angst that has risen up within me and many other seniors about our future in the world.

We must stay engaged, try to help shape the inevitable changes, and, above all, challenge any and all threats to the vulnerable. For me, it’s a waste of time to constantly point out the wrongs of others. Regardless of political affiliation, we ALL know what is right and what is wrong. It’ll be my challenge to not let wrongs against any people be minimized. How I do that, I’m not sure yet.

Perhaps my fear for the future of our country is overdone. I hope so. From here on out, however, I’m tightening my seat belt; I think it’s going to be a very bumpy ride!