Written by Maggie McNish, our new intern at 3 Generations.
I am a senior at Pace University majoring in History and minoring in Middle Eastern studies. The plan is to go onto graduate school for International Relations with a concentration in media and culture.
I truly could not be more excited about the opportunity I stepped into. During 2016, I was working for a major news cooperation covering the election. My job was transcribing anything and everything from the campaign trail. Live film constantly fed through the monitors from the digital journalists in the field, and I spent a year typing it all.
If Ted Cruz had a media avail, I was there. If Hillary went to a coffee shop, I was there, writing down her order along with the server. If Trump had five rallies in one day, I was there, typing every “[chanting] USA! USA!,” every “[chanting] Build the wall! Build the wall!,” and every “[chanting] Lock her up! Lock her up!”
I was there at the Republican Convention, when a correspondent heard a “lock her up” chant evolve into a “burn the witch” one.
Taking in all that energy was beyond stressful. It was emotionally painful. On election night, I could not leave work on election night until Donald Trump gave his victory speech.
“I am actually incapable of doing my job right now,” I told a producer.
“I know. I know,” she consoled me. “But I need this transcript so I can cut my piece in the morning. This is for me.”
Months before November 8th, before the primaries were over, I was taking my dog Woodrow for a midnight walk through the park when I called my brother Matt. This particular phone conversation lasted way after the walk ended, straight into the closed door of my bedroom, after he told me to step back from the election madness – even step back from Bernie. I was desperately trying to figure out when my brother lost his morality.
“This is what they want,” Matt said, “everybody fighting over two or three people.”
“But we have to fight, or else Donald Trump becomes president,” I insisted. “If Hillary wins the primary, we’re done, he’s in, and it’s over.”
“We can’t all live in fear of one man,” he tried to tell me. “We can’t all be terrified about what will happen in one election.”
He paused and then said, “Or else we’ll all go mad.”
“I am going mad,” I whispered.
“Yeah, because you’re 21 years old, dealing all your own shit, and being bombarded with all sides of this propaganda. You hear exactly what they want you to hear, exactly what they think is wrong with the other side when, really, we all need to just be dealing with our own shit.”
“But—” I tried.
I stared off through my window and actively attempted to reach calmness.
“But, what are we supposed to do if it’s not helping people?” I finally let out.
“That’s when you’re in a library one day, you stumble across some book about the Sahara Desert, you become amazed with it, and you decide that is what you want to dedicate your life to. It’s about finding something deep inside you that you care about instead of letting these people tell you everything we should be scared of and why you need to do something about it right now.”
“Something you’re passionate about,” I said, still staring off.
He went on. “Like, I think this Mars exploration is crap. We might get there, but we collectively need to bring ourselves back down to Earth and realize that’s all we have right now.”
I shook myself out of my newfound state and held onto my last defense. “That’s why we need Bernie though! He’s the only one who even cares about climate change.”
“He might, and that’s great. But he’s also just one man.”
And I am just one woman. I am a very confused, financially unstable, often idiotic woman living in Brooklyn trying to figure out what is going on not only in my own life but in the world we find ourselves living in. Growing up in New Jersey with average middle class privilege, I was able to go through middle and high school dreaming of what I would do when I grew up. I foolishly assumed that I had options, because I also assumed that the world I would grow into would be the same as the one I grew up in.
Before I ever kissed a real person, I used to have reoccurring dreams about kissing President Obama. Now, I live in a world where I have nightmares from watching the news at night – dreams about sexual trauma induced by a new president who admitted to sexual assault on tape. I live in a world where white woman heard that tape over and over and over again and still voted for him.
I knew America wasn’t perfect. We all knew that. We have a constitution that thinks a black person is really only ¾ of a person. We have a government that never ratified an Equal Rights Amendment for women. We are the only country on Earth that has dropped a nuclear bomb on another.
I just never knew that by the time I was 22, I would have to spend weekends and nights getting in my workouts via protests and marches. And, really, it is way too overwhelming. There are so many injustices nationally and internationally, socially and politically that it has become emotionally impossible to handle all of it.
3 Generations has given me the chance to handle it. It is an organization that focuses on issues I am passionate about. I am conscious of the fact that we live on colonized land and feel an urgent sense of solidarity with the Native Americans who are ahead of the rest of America in the fight against oil. It pains me that within this context, the next Secretary of State will be the CEO of Exxon and a personal friend of Vladimir Putin.
Instead of giving myself up to a news cycle plagued with a bad case of A.D.H.D., I am now exposed to the dedication, thoughtfulness, and sensitivity that goes into a film or a video focused on one main issue, one unique injustice. I am learning to step back from the madness and understand the problems I am passionate about from the most important source of perspective – the victims.