I don’t want to mince words, nor do I want to say things I’ll regret later. But above all I don’t want to leave this unsaid.
Probably like many of you, I have a friend who did not vote for Hillary Clinton, for the usual and tiresome list of reasons. He also claims that Trump “did not win on my account.” And he says, with a discouraging regularity, like so many of us, “whatever” and “it is what it is.”
Our language reveals the apathy that’s endemic to our society. We live in a world where, rather than stand up for what we believe we shrug it off with a whatever, vapidity masquerading as tolerance. A world where we don’t put in the energy and effort to make it what it should be, sighing that it is what it is to excuse our inaction.
In fact “it is what it is” because that’s what we do. We accept that “whatever” is good enough, is the best we can hope for, and then we justify our failure to make things right by saying that things are what they are, full stop. So almost half of us didn’t even bother to vote, chose not to vote against racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, threats of violence, abuse of the most vulnerable. Just stayed home, watched the election on TV, and when their abstention had allowed a despicable despot to get in line to run our country, I have no doubt that they absolved themselves of responsibility with one of those two odious phrases.
I can’t blame my friend for being who he is. I can only blame myself for thinking he was someone different. Same thing goes for my fellow citizens. I thought that decency still had the upper hand in our society. I was blind to a truth that I hoped never to see. The age of “whatever” is upon us, whatever is exactly what we’re going to get, and it’s arguably what we deserve. It is what it is until we change it.