In January, I read a really great book. I chose it from a list of books I had dubbed "Revolutionary Reads," from which I planned to read one book every month for the duration of 2017. The best laid plans, am I right?
Next up was Bernie Sanders' most recent book, Our Revolution. And I tried. Oh, how I tried to get through this book. I bought myself a hardcover copy of the book and had it with me all that month, and the next. But every time I started to read it, my mind would wander or my eyes would droop. Finally, when I realized I'd never make it past the first chapter, I downloaded the audiobook from the library. The reader was Bernie himself, reading his own words! I listened to it for hours while I started seeds for my vegetable garden in the basement. I listened to it in the car while I drove long distances to guided foraging hikes in the spring. Still, I could not get through it.
I expected the book to make me hopeful, or optimistic about the state of the country. Instead, it was autobiographical, and merely told the story of how Sanders ended up running for President. I'm sure if I had been able to get further into the book, there may have been some more inspiring elements. But the more I watched what was happening with our current administration, the harder it became for me to read Bernie's book. The past 10 months have been so jam-packed with horrifying events, that it became emotionally difficult for me to keep paying attention to it. And so month after month passed, and I couldn't bring myself to read even one more page.
I could blame the lapse on the fact that I was too busy - this summer I started working full time after working part time for over a year. Or I could blame it on the fact that the subject matter didn't capture my attention. But in truth, the real culprit is simply privilege.
I am able to tune politics out, and ignore the world around me because I am a somewhat healthy, middle class, cisgendered, heterosexual white woman. When I stop paying attention to the news, or stop taking political action, I am not at risk of being deported. I do not have to choose between eating or receiving life-saving medical treatment. When my husband walks out the door every morning, I do not worry that he might not come home. These are privileges, and I acknowledge that. I have it easier than most people on that planet.
And so I will continue to incorporate books about difficult subjects into my reading rotation. Maybe I'll even write reviews of them. I will try to be informed about current affairs, disheartening as they are. And I will fight, in my own way, and speak for those without a voice.