It still hurts every time. I will never get used to seeing qualified, experienced, hard-working candidates defeated by people who seem, at best, weak and unqualified, and at worst, outright corrupt. I don’t understand why the majority of people in Alabama are okay with the way things are.
I love my home state. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Generations of my ancestors farmed here, taught school here, ran businesses here and are buried in ancient, shaded cemeteries here. All of my precious childhood memories are of the dirt roads, creeks, cotton and hay fields and pine trees of Alabama.
My childhood homes are gone. The high school I attended burned, as did the church where I got married. A tornado decimated the pecan orchard where my grandmother used to earn all her Christmas money. The things that tie me to this hot, backward state are not existing places, but the combination of memory and belonging that makes me who I am. I have never completely fit in here, but this place is part of me, nonetheless.
I am trying to understand my neighbors. I know they love this state, too. But how can they not want better for it? How can they be content with our underfunded, unequal, under performing system of public education? How can they be okay with politicians who claim to support blatantly unconstitutional establishment of religion? How can they believe that poverty, ignorance, and inequality is what God wants for us?
At times like this, I am grateful for the energy and faith of those who don’t get discouraged. They are young and old men and women of all races, who simply keep going. They don’t allow themselves to feel that nothing they do matters. That is not an option; they know it matters. They continue to teach, minister, volunteer, march, help, write, and plan for next time. I am thankful for them, with their heads unbowed and hearts strong.
I want to be like them.