In a little known play by the playwright Billy Shakespeare titled Romeo and Juliet the Chorus informs us of a rivalry of two houses, not based in any one thing but so ingrained in the fabric of each family that they are resigned to their hate of the other.
(*Spoilers*) When the children of the rivals subsequently meet and fall in love, high jinx ensue resulting in the eventual death of both parties. In the seminal scene after the most metal of death from the two young (and foolish) lovers, the Price (who is the law in this little known play) says “Where be these enemies?—Capulet! Montague!/See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,/ That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!/ And I, for winking at your discords, too/ Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.” (emphasis mine)
This little known play seems to speak to the my interpretation of the current US political climate. The Democrats and Republicans are two machines set to clash against each other for a multitude of reasons, some of them fundamental ideological ones, and others social ones. As members of the polity, the people of the United States are encouraged (or forced depending on the interpretation) to pick a side, to ride (or die) for that side and to defend the actions of that side, even if they aren’t always reasonable, or just, or even rational.
We are the Tybalt’s and Mercutio’s for the political machine in many ways, with our participation or our apathy. The general feelings of many about the many changes that have occurred since the Inauguration and the Women’s March have oscillated from frustration on one side to ‘we did it’ to others to ‘do better’. In the end, these clashes in process although important for the arc of time moving towards justice (another little known quote from a hip guy who called himself MLK JR) are small in opposition to the real threat. We can and should ask our fellow members of the polity to ride for us, to think about us in their actions (or inaction) and we should hope that they hear what we ask for and strive to do better next time. In the mean time, if we are to really and truly fight against corporate interest, environmental catastrophe, and the loss of basic civil liberties, we gotta take on some empathy.
In Romeo and Juliet, the Nurse and the Friar act as the voices of reason. They question the two impatient and petulant lovers, they demand that they choose wisely, they defend their desire to break from the long-standing feud to create a new world. We need to be critical, to be active, and to demand honest answers from our friends and family, AND also be mindful that not everyone is ready. You literally cannot get everyone there in a day, it’ll take time. In the meantime, don’t act like our star-crossed lovers, be present, be mindful, and most importantly (for all my rad siblings) be patient with your people (and I say your people cuz it’s not the job of marginalized folks to act as teacher, therapist, and road dog all the time). Cuz I’m not trying to drink poison or take a knife for anyone. And as another one of Billy’s characters said, little known dude named Hamlet ” What a piece of work is a man! How noble/ in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and/ moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The/ beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And/ yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” (emphasis mine). Basically, we humans are great and all but in the end the things we create end, and so do we. If we are striving for a better world, we gotta do it together, cuz we all can be free, but not til we are all free.