Suszynski: So, what to do?
Two weeks ago, my brother and I were skiing Northwoods when we stopped to let a group of out-of-control skiers go ahead of us. As we watched them go by, one skier broke off from his group and pointed his skis in our direction. He came within a foot of our skis and yelled a derogatory, homophobic word as loud as he could.
It wasn’t until Wednesday that I was able to articulate why that exchange was so wrong. With the same level of bafflement, as when I watched this kid break off from his group and almost violently point his skis in our direction, I watched, not entirely surprised, rioters, draped in flags as capes, painted in cartoonish mockery, and motivated by something I still haven’t put my finger on, terrorize the Capitol.
Was I entirely surprised that either of these situations happened? No. There are times in our lives, when we experience moments of illumination — moments of utter bafflement perhaps in the name of something good, and other times in the name of something bad. Maybe four years ago, when I awaited the results of an election I was sure of, I felt what it means to be so surprised that debilitating disappointment rides on its coattails. I have not felt that particular feeling in a while now. I have been awakened to a reality I had only peripherally acknowledged.
You can call that reality what you will, white supremacy, selfishness, a blindness, disillusionment. In the words of perhaps the man who really had it right, and still continues to have it right, James Baldwin: “It has always been easier (because it has always seemed much safer) to give a name to the evil without than to locate the terror within.” Baldwin wrote about race in America, a fabulous thinker who wrote significantly of art and talked pointedly of identity.
So what to do? This seems, to me, the most taxing question to ask, instead of, what is wrong. For I hope that we all know that many things are wrong. I hope we all know that there are many things to do. The question still stands.
“I think all of our voyages drives us there; for I have always felt that a human being could only be saved by another human being. I am aware that we don’t save each other often. But I am also aware that we save each other some of the time,” Baldwin says.
I am not a politician, I am not an expert in much, and there are days when I feel that I can claim being a writer and other days that I feel I cannot. There are things I am sure of: I am a skier, I am a reader, I most definitely write, even if I am not a writer. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend. With the titles that I am sure of, I can say that the conclusion I have come to, the only answer I am sure of, is that what we must do is think.
I am talking of a thinking culture. One must think in order to be. I am not talking about a cancel culture, a “woke” culture, an elitist culture. The thinking, I believe, should be done on the basis of our own identity. Why do we react to certain things? Have we gotten a leg up? How do we situate ourselves in this specific context? In our sea of whiteness in these mountains, we have plenty of space and time to think. So that is what we must do.
“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster,” Baldwin said.
There is plenty to think about. Whether you support a full Democratic Senate or not, one must think about why Georgia flipped. One must think about Stacey Abrams and what happens when you see an issue and get to work on it. One must think about what it means to lose in America, and what it means to make change. “I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative,” Baldwin said.
If you want to watch a silly video, then watch the hooligans that stormed the Capitol. I don’t want to take their idiocy lightly, but people that believe in such things as “revolution” to be the sour taste of mace is not doing the work. If, on the other hand, you would like to watch a real revolution, which first begins beneath the very current of our consciousness, in the minds of those who begin to think, and think, and then revise, as author Zadie Smith so adeptly says, “Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive,” then perhaps you should read Baldwin.
So, what to do? What to do is, think. Think about what it means to come from this place or that place, with this history or that culture. Then rethink it. Question it. Think — again and again. Sure, progress is never permanent, but progress begins with a thought. We are capable of saving each other some of the time. Only, one must begin to think it so.
Anna Suszynski is a staff editor at the Vail Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram at annasuszynski or on Twitter at anna_suszynski.
Support Local Journalism
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User