I went to school in St. Louis. We were a displaced New York family that moved to St. Louis because of my father’s job as an aerospace engineer. My political views were never in line with that hot, humid, stultifying midwestern town. When I grew up there, we had the notorious Pruitt Igoe housing. Racism and segregation were a way of life. The old black schoolhouse still stood, a rickety reminder of the city’s pre-Brown vs. Topeka past. (I think it later became a Polynesian restaurant.) And instead of investing in ending acute poverty, the mayor at the time (Cervantes) chose to spend millions on that stupid arch. To put St. Louis on the map.
The Vietnam War was a shocking revelation. I had grown into political awareness with the belief that we, the USA, were the good guys. Probably an inheritance from my ultra conservative father, who had been a WWII refugee, having had his Bar Mitzvah in Berlin in 1938. I snuck out of school to go to demonstrations against the war at Washington University. My father later found my black armband in the car and I was grounded for four months. Not allowed to talk on the phone. Just school and back.
Now, back in the safety of NYC and long past childbearing years, I have such antipathy for the regressive, nasty, bigoted, morally indefensible positions the state’s leaders have embraced. Protecting zygotes, not children. The right to own an Uzi more important than a women’s autonomy to make choices for about her own body. Forced childbirth for young girls raped by strangers or their own fathers; no protection from maniacs with guns.
I love my classmates. I went to an elite, artsy private school. But do I want to spend money, pay sales tax to a state with utterly contemptible leaders. I really don’t know.
And on the other hand, this is how the divide hardens. My antipathy isn’t useful. It properly me forward towards to the point that I begin to think we are on the verge of a civil war. I don’t feel safe in a world with so many guns and so much anger. I don’t feel comfortable with my own anger.