It’s so easy to get down in times like these. You may not see it coming, but then, there you are rolling off a cliff into the abyss of misspent memories and into that gurgling pool of anxiety. You don’t know what’s next, but you do know that it probably won’t be good, just because. Just because.
This isn’t an attempt to stifle anyone’s New Year’s affectations for 2016’s knock-em-down, kick-em-hard disappointments going away, but more of a knowing glance. We’re seeing things we’ve never seen before – well, we always have been seeing new things (it’s nature), but these things seem to hurt more.
For me, it was the Ft. Lauderdale airport shootings and the illogical reaction that more guns in airports could have solved them. A couple of years ago, it was the massacre at Sandy Hook of innocent children. But just in the last year, there seems to have been a crescendo – whether media-driven or not – wherein the bass line just kicks you in the gut. Shots fired in Turkey, in Fort Lauderdale, in Orlando; police officers dying while trying to address other slain police officers while a gunman remains on the loose. It doesn’t seem fair, but nobody has the strength to lift the lid off this hole in the ground; nobody seems to care, really. Well, they Facebook “care,” but that will get you a few made-up people psycho-friending you from the nethers of cyberspace and maybe a little more disappointment on the side.
However, this isn’t the end of the world, at least not yet. When Meryl Streep took her classic turn at this week’s Golden Globes, speaking down the President-elect of this nation without even speaking his name, she brought some truth to the table. Some much needed truth in this golden age of hubris.
“This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing,” she said. “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Well, we’re not all losing yet. It’s a new year, maybe a time to stop reflecting and start regrouping. The pieces are there for some kind of revival of spirit. Just look into the eyes of our cover-story star this week, Eli Sellers, who has faced every challenge in coming out as transgender in the military. Do you see tears?
“Being a little bit older, having learned a lot more, I would like to be a voice for the community,” he says in the story. “Not only for myself but for people who need the inspiration, who didn’t get it as easy as I have. I think that would be something really cool to be able to stand with those other greats.”
Standing with the greats it shall be, then. Sellers is incredibly inspirational, and perhaps a much-needed one for us being trumped down by this winter of hate. Elsewhere in the issue, you’ll find more tales of shifting tides and adaptation to new lives. Our own publisher Rick Claggett reveals far more of his heart than print generally requires in his column on making his own huge personal decision to move forward. Several of our greatest representatives are pushing back on the gun issue even if said pushback will likely fall under the Hammer of the National Rifle Association (it already has, actually; equal and opposite legislation may turn the southeast into the wild west via open-carry legislation).
It’s not the time to get smug about it, though. “They’re all the same,” you say. “Politicians are made of the dirt that lines the road to the apocalypse,” you say. Well, come March, you can take your own dirt road on the scenic view to Tallahassee and let them know how you feel. You can march here in Florida or up in Washington, D.C., for women’s rights that are also meeting the chisel. And let us not forget that we are still not an equal population in terms of rights; none of us in the minority (or as minorities) are. It may sound like a broken record if you read Watermark with any frequency – this whole “resist” mantra – but that tune has been going on to great effect for centuries, with great effect. Just don’t give up. Please, don’t give up.
But if you need to, just for a few minutes, check out our stories on Lisa Lampanelli and Wicked, and distract yourself from those strange feelings of overused, heavy gravity. Oh, Attorney General Pam Bondi is in here, too, but don’t let her get you down. She’s likely going up to that White House in the northeast and never looking back.
In short, we hate to sound like a self-help book, but we’ve all been through a lot over the past year. Let’s try to make it easier for someone else in 2017. Look to Watermark for ideas. We’ll be stewing on them, developing them and serving them up. So here we go. No looking down.