When I was a teenager, I used to get bullied a lot. My bullies were relentless. I could barely be in a class with them or pass them by on my way to get some water and they would seize the opportunity to say something hurtful or make a face, a smirk – hard to catch and pin down as a crime, but easy to cause pain. They would call me names that took me years to live down and overcome. They were charming, had their own circle of friends, popular enough, smart and good enough in what they did that no one called them on their cowardice. The new student lived as an outsider for many years in their classrooms. I learned how to fight against them but I also learned how to be angry. I do not think I have ever really forgiven them but that is my own personal tragedy and responsibility. I have been thinking a lot about those bullies these days.
Barely a month into office and the country is in turmoil and many people have been harmed already including some Muslim worshippers in a Quebec mosque who were killed by a white, anti-immigrant, Trump-supporting young man a few weeks ago. More harm and hate still waiting to be unleashed by this bully and his supporters. Very few from his circle will want to earn his wrath by opposing him openly or otherwise. The latest ban on people from some Muslim countries means that children and fathers and mothers and grandparents and siblings will be separated from each other, perhaps indefinitely, and many who had built lives for themselves here will have to leave it all behind along with pieces of who they believed they were in America. The bully will not stop here, I know. More harm will be caused, people will be hurt and while the stock markets hold up, his followers shall praise him for his acumen in the business of running a country. Until when? What catastrophe awaits us at the end of this narrow path of his policies that have obviously not been thought through? The bully likes to make a splash. Like a badly paced runner, the new president in his barely still slept-in bed in the White House is raging forward like a blind bull in America’s china shop of immigration health care and climate change.
No country can live in isolation anymore though, and unfortunately these policies will slowly trickle down and affect the entire world. Our ozone layer is shared as are our borders and our waters and our air and our peoples. No wall will save us from the degradation of these essential commodities. What does the bully want? The bully wants attention. The bully wants power. The bully wants to feel popular. The new president of my country is getting enough of all of that and his will is bolstered to move fast and quick and brashly on. Human decency in the form of protests marches and petitions gives us hope but I worry still. I am now a grown woman. My memories of my bullies are almost three decades old. In many ways I am now the woman I want to be, but inside I know that I will always carry the scars inflicted by them. That is exactly what I fear for this country and the world.
Chandra Ganguly is a MFA student at Bennington College. She writes about the meaning and loss of identity and issues around gender and culture. She lives with her family in Palo Alto, California.