Since Charlottesville, #2

As you may recall from my previous post, I’ve come out of the closet.

I have publicly come out as an angry old white lady. Our culture mocks old people: our hearing losses, our driving habits. A woman publicly expressing anger? It’s social suicide. Combine “angry,” “old,” and “lady.” What is more worthy of parody? Let me thrash my cane about and grumble about the younger generation. I’m supposed to be either the nurturing grandmother or a boomer who likes sailing and golfing and searches dating sites for a fun-loving mate.

Since events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the weekend of August 13 and 14, I’ve seen pictures of people wearing t-shirts with the slogan, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

Ever since Donald Trump appeared on the scene, I’ve been outraged. Outraged by his mocking primary opponents, by his obvious narcissism, by his lack of basic knowledge about the Constitution. I was especially outraged by the sexually abusive recording on the bus with Billy Bush.

Why weren’t others outraged? Either they weren’t paying attention, or they had no moral compass.

Yet after the election I decided to lay low. Not expose my anger. It would only widen the gulf between Trump supporters and those of us who opposed him. And, more important to me, it would sap my emotional energy.

Oh, the inconvenience of anger.

I want to write, and my age has added an urgency. I want to market my most recent book. I want to hike with my husband, visit my grandchildren. Most of all, I have dreaded the emotional drain of anger.

The violence in Charlottesville forced me to rethink disengagement. Who were the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists marching against? Individuals I care about: African-American friends in whose homes I have experienced warmth and hospitality; gay friends in whose homes I have experienced warmth and hospitality; Jewish friends in whose homes I have experienced warmth and hospitality; immigrants in whose homes I have experienced warmth and hospitality. I, in turn, have welcomed them into my home.

Those the protesters marched against are people of compassion and intellect, who add depth and richness of character to our society. They are teachers, pastors, business people, students, volunteers.

Anger an inconvenience for me? How ashamed I am.


Nancy Werking Poling is author of Before It Was Legal: a black-white marriage (1945-1987).

6 thoughts on “Since Charlottesville, #2

  1. I get it. You’re angry. Now what? The Presbyterian Office of Public Witness has a list of actions that can channel anger into action. Greatly abbreviated, the first three actions are to pray for justice, to stand boldly in the face of hate, and to mourn with those who mourn those killed and hurt. Good list that can be done individually or organized corporately.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
    You have the gift of speaking my mind when words often cannot say my deepest feelings.

  3. Words…Words regarding the events in Charlottesville and the continuing vicious words of #45…Hate has always been beyond my understanding. It doesn’t fit in my vocabulary. Anger doesn’t usually either, but right now, both anger and pain are gnawing. I cannot understand the need for Charlottesville and now the many other events that are being spoken of. But then, those crowds of angry people can’t understand me. With a sad heart, I try to understand what created the overwhelming hatred. Will we ever understand? Can Love conquer hate. It is the only path I really know. Quietly I stand.

    • I must say, Roberta, that “hate” is becoming part of my vocabulary. I have come to hate the Haters?

      After the election, and after reading Hillbilly Elegy, I tried to be tolerant of those whose views I strongly disagree with. I’ve lost my patience.

      Yet in just one week of unleashing my anger, I’m finding that it’s exhausting. Hate can also wear one down.

  4. You ask why others weren’t outraged after the bus incident. Perhaps they were, and had not as yet found their own voice, as you find yours in Writing. Anger can be energizing. Hatred can indeed be fatiguing, but to deny that we all have the potential for hatred and violence denies our own sinful nature, doesn’t it? This is a time for courage. It’s always been a time for courage. I believe that Old Women can be daunting, not because of our canes, but because we often don’t really care so much what others think of us! We can each choose our way of expression and Be Daunting!

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