2020 has continually defied my wildest expectations, time and time again. I began this year with big goals: Finish up my BFA, move to New York City, and start a new chapter in my life. In the beginning, I felt as though I was swimming through Vaseline and not moving an inch closer to my goals. I sat in a funk. I phone banked for candidates I believed in, and suddenly, Joe Biden was our only hope. I was frustrated. So many of my peers who didn’t share the same privilege that I did needed systematic change that we knew a Biden presidency would not bring. I sunk back into a funk. September passed slowly from behind the walls of my childhood home, where my Mother and I had been holed up. October was the same. Suddenly, it was November and it was time to vote.
I woke up at 6AM, ran down the road to the elementary school where my ward was voting, and found a line that was a quarter of a mile long. This was unheard of for central New Hampshire. I waited an hour till the polls opened, unenthusiastically cast my vote for Joe Biden, and left in a hurry to avoid prolonged exposure to others.
As I made my way home, I passed by flags supporting the 45th President, but even more signage supporting Biden and Harris. I had hope, but if the year 2020 taught me anything, it was to expect nothing, and pray for the bare minimum. Our system, or rather, our society, has failed us. America was supposed to be the land of the free, where people are empowered to make their own decisions. This led to our current slow and painful downfall, where science-lacking dimwits decide to parade around the locales and spread their virus ridden aerosol, because “it is their right to do so”, apparently. Despite my woe and worry, I went inside, cleaned myself off with alcohol, and sat on the couch with my dog. I awaited the inevitable.
News came in. Results came in. Biden wasn’t pulling in the votes the polls had predicted. “2016 all over again,”, the pundits proclaimed. I felt they were right, but missing an important factor: after four years of Trump, we as young adults know the consequences. We know what is at stake if Roe v. Wade is Overturned. I felt silent anger in the pit of my stomach; an anger that once was loud. A passionate anger that stormed Boston Common at 1AM four years prior to protest the ‘win’ that Trump pulled off through the electoral college, despite losing the vote.
I sat on my couch, with my sleeping dog at my right, and a tub of ice cream on my left, exhausted. Emotionally, physically, and mentally. I woke up the next day, feeling the anger in my stomach begin to sour. I watched the news yet again, as the results crept in at a snail’s pace. I had to turn it off. The news was a bull and my sanity took the place of the proverbial ‘china shop’. As an unapologetic, bleeding-heart socialist, my heart was broken yet again for the future of our country. I still dream of a future where America’s social system systematically works and raises people up, rather than putting people down. That hope became more of a passing dream as I witnessed democracy on the brink of collapse.
On this evening of November 5th, I look back to the end of the Peloponnesian war between Athens, and Sparta. Democracy in Athens was challenged in the face of war and strife, and overthrown by a coup in 411 B.C.E.. The parallels history can draw with America and the handling of COVID-19 are uncannily frightening. If one bit of wisdom from Classical Greece gives me courage, it just might be the wise words of Sokrates, words he wrote in the downfall of Athens’ initial democracy:
“Falling down is not the failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen”.
My hope is that one week from today, I can not only get out of my own rut, but begin to witness a country rise from how far it has fallen.