Sunday, February 26, 2012

An Alternative, Part 1

No matter where I look, no matter what I read, no matter the radio station I listen to, I hear something about primaries, caucuses and the upcoming presidential election. It's a pervasive caterwauling about the economy and birth control (wtf?!) and more grandstanding than I can believe. Each side lambasts the other, offering better solutions, clearer vision and sometimes, even declarations of "divine sanction," I try not to read too deeply but I am attempting to stay apprised of the general state of things (that's about all I can emotionally withstand). So I clicked through to a CNN article about the recent Governor's convention wherein governors from both sides of the aisle were asked about the republican primary circus and President Obama's reelection chances. And after sifting through banal exaggerations and rhetoric, one quote caught me by surprise. One Republican governor, when asked about the tumultuous primary season, offered this surprisingly honest answer: "The problem I would worry about, and have all along, is that our side might not offer a bold enough and specific enough and constructive enough and, I would say, inclusive enough alternative to America."

An alternative to what? From what? For what?

I think he is talking about a Meta-Narrative. Or to put it plainly, an alternative BIG picture. The republican party is scrambling because the alternative "story" that they are trying to sell to voters isn't flying off the shelves. Does that sound cynical? It shouldn't. It's a smart tactic, because it taps into a deep-seated need within the human psyche.

"Tell me a story," the voters say. "And make it better than the one I'm living in."

That plea is familiar to me. It is one I make every day to God.

"Tell me a story," the convict's wife says. "Because this one? It sucks."
I remember when Gareth's pediatrician told me about his birth defect and his immediate need for surgery and a life-flight to the nearest pediatric surgeon. All I could think on the drive up was "this can't be my life. I don't want this life." I wanted an alternative story, another option, a better outcome.

I feel the same way now. Each day I wake up and face the realities of my situation - my husband is a sex offender. And will be in jail till I'm close to 50. And then I get up and change diapers and fix breakfast and take care of my son and work a job and pay bills and try to distract myself from the voice in my head that chants: "I want a better story. I want a different life."

Voters want a better story. But so do mothers and fathers of children born with birth defects. So do the families of convicted felons and prison inmates. So do those who suffer from violence, and war, illness and injustice. We all want an alternative to this shitty hand that we've been dealt, to this narrative that has twisted onto paths we would have never taken.

We are all crying out our confusion and pain, some of us to the world, some of us to our God: "Tell me a story. And make it better than this one! Tell me something that makes sense!"

Of course, there is a bigger story, a Meta-Narrative that is supposed to shape my response to this tragic life I am now living.

But right now? It isn't helping.

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