how to laugh in america

By Laurie Sharp-Page

Well 2017 has done what we have all been anxiously anticipating, it has finally shown up.

I spent the majority of 2016 bitching about what a shit-tastic year it had been, challenges at work, home and with family. Deaths and births, parties and fights, it was a year alike so many others, but different in its complexity. It ended, for me, in just as complex of a manner - confused and unclear, we have headed into the much anticipated 2017.

Like many Americans I have spent everyday recently, eyes on the news, wondering anxiously about what the world will look in the coming years, months, weeks, days. Unwittingly I have found my response to be more and more disengaged, laughing at the absurdity of it all, distancing myself from the reality that all signs seem to point to regression.

Coping skills come in all different styles, my prefered coping skill is humor, but there is a catch. The thing I have noticed with my own coping style is that sometimes, coping through humor becomes coping through dissociation. Recently, I was reading a fantastic HuffPost article about what the real cost of repealing Obamacare is - I was unaware (because I still retain some level of naivete and optimism regarding the government, somehow) that defunding Obamacare is going to cost us a fuck-ton of money. So on top of the already sunk time and financial costs of the ongoing war on Health Care access in America, we now are embarking on additional costs to reverse a program, that while not perfect, has been lifesaving for many americans.

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I was reading this article, it sends such a clear and unfortunate message, there is no money or priority to help the American public with something as essential as health care, but there is money to undo (instead of improve) a program - an action that will ultimately cause significant strain (if not distress) for many American families. I laughed because of fucking course - this is America, another example of how fucked the priorities of those asshats in Washington are.

As I was laughing I continued scrolling through the article, which screenshotted several dozen tweets from a diverse range of Americans BEGGING for their health care to not be taken away. Quickly my laughter subsided and the bowling ball pit of anxiety and uncertainty returned to my stomach.

I would have been more content to stay reveling in the absurdity and not focused on the real individual pain this is going to cause my fellow citizens. However I needed to be pulled back in, reminded that this isn’t just an exercise in petty bullshittery, this is the future of our country.

I don’t know what is going to happen in the future, believe me if I did I would have a much fancier office, but what I do know is that we all have to fight the urge - individually and collectively, to not check out. To live with our values on our sleeves, to speak our truth and to trust in the goodness of each other, even when we can’t trust those elected to represent us.

This is perhaps the most challenging call to duty we have ever faced, perseverance is going to difficult in a climate of helplessness and hopelessness. I hope we can keep laughing, but stay engaged, to the challenge the future and progress towards a better America.