As wretched as 2016 was, I am not looking forward to 2017 and Trump’s rise to power.A lot of people are going to be hurt, and there is going to be a lot of suffering. And I’ve simply been overwhelmed by the smack down the feminist movement received and feelings of powerlessness that trying to fight seems insurmountable.
The problems we are facing are so many and severe that even figuring out which one to target as the most important is hard. Global warming? Well, if we don’t do something about that soon we’re all in for a world of hurt. Even now it may be too late. Women’s rights to reproductive health? Considering how intricately population control is tied to global warming this is definitely a worthy goal. Or how about protecting first amendment rights to free speech and peaceful protest, not to mention the right to freedom of worship for non-Christians, or the freedom not to worship? All of those seem under imminent threat.
And then I get overwhelmed. I have two small children, one of whom has disabilities. I’m running my own business. When my husband is working, I’m doing stuff from home while homeschooling and entertaining my children, and when I’m seeing clients, my husband is home taking care of the kids. Finding the time when all four of us were home at the same time just to see “Moana” was challenging. I already feel stretched thin and overburdened, and when I think about trying to squeeze in fighting the right wing extremists who have seized our country in there, I get depressed.
And then, earlier in the week, the news that Carrie Fisher had died landed and hit me like a load of bricks. I often find parallels between how other people view religious stories and how I view science fiction shows such as Star Wars. Growing up I idealized Princess Leia. She was strong, she was a fighrer, and she was sassy. I wanted to be like her, even though to be honest, I’m not.
When I got into college and found new heroes such as Lina Inverse, women who shows centered around who were the heroines who always saved the day, Princess Leia started to seem a little dated. But then The Force Awakens came out, and we were treated to General Leia Organa, an old, wizened fighter who never gave up.
Luke gave up. Han gave up. Padme Amidala gave up. But Leia? No matter what crap life threw at her, she kept fighting.
She watched helplessly as her planet, where her adoptive parents and other loved ones resided was blown apart, and she didn’t crumble, she kept fighting. When her lover was taken from her, she didn’t crumble, she kept fighting. When her son went to the Dark Side, she didn’t crumble, she kept fighting, unlike Han and Luke. And when her son killed his father, she didn’t crumble, she kept fighting.
I started to see Leia in a new light. No, she was not the main hero. No, she was not physically the strongest, she was not the best fighter, she was not the one with her finger on the trigger to destroy the Death Star. But she was the one who persevered no matter what setbacks life dealt her. She knew that the mission was too important to sit back and wallow in her feelings of helplessness, so she acted for change. Her mental resiliency is stunning, enviable, and laudatory. And for that reason, Leia is the strongest damn person in the series!
And I am trying to armor myself with her strength. I wish she were a real person so I could sit across from her and ask “how do you do this? How do you keep going when the enemies are so strong? How do you keep going when the setbacks are so painful?”
I don’t think I would have mentally ever been ready to lose Carrie Fisher, but this happening under the wake of the biggest feminist setback in my life time seemed like salt rubbed on an open wound. At the same time, in the wake of her death, I read from many other women who were inspired by the strength and endurance she portrayed as General Leia Organa that I realized there was a lesson in this.
I feel sick to my stomach when I think about what 2017 will bring. But the only path to go is forward. Perhaps along the way I will learn how General Leia Organa does it as I do my best to follow her example