2017 started under a cloud for many here in the U.S. and not the least for us in Washington DC. We were all waiting for the inauguration of the new president and at least some of us hoped that the ugly rhetoric and dividing speeches would end after the election. They didn’t. Nor did this constant punching of Washington and civil servants. It’s frankly quite discouraging! First of all Washington is more than just politicians. I think especially of those who live but one or a few miles from Capitol Hill, yet face structural marginalization or work (often in multiple) in minimum-wage jobs just to be able to afford their families basic needs – so immensely far from the elitist bubble that our city is so often equaled with in the political rhetoric, and certainly not guilty of the horrific crimes that so many minority groups were accused of during the election campaign! But the constant slandering of Government workers was also quite depressing, Although many Americans appreciate individual Government services, there is always so much negativity said during American elections about government agencies or those who work in them. It felt quite discouraging to be honest, since so many us are so dedicated and have worked so hard to get to do what we do. Which is to service others!
But all of a sudden something started happening: Already before that rainy day that the president was sworn in. I could sense a new force started to emerge all around me. A genuine drive to resist the negativity, indecency, and demagoguery, and to be generous and do more for others. To fight evil with good at all levels, from behavior to deeds. To join movements from The Women’s March ob Washington, to Black Lives Matters, to volunteer for diverse causes and mentor kids in need of extra support. Some of my friends even said they consciously tried to cut down on news consumption to not be too poisoned by all the negativity. Walking in the Women’s March of Washington made me realize that I and my small circle of friends were not alone in this. There wee obviously negative signs here and there, but when I walked in the crowds up e Washington Mall, most of the signs around me was about love trumping hate, going high when others go low, and making America kind again. It gave me hope that this will not be the new normal if we don’t let it!