It’s possible to summarize 2016 with a single meme. I know. That’s what the world has come to. Here it is:
We’ve faced the deaths of cultural icons, widespread ideological violence, the overwhelming reality of our changing climate, and the disintegration of any semblance of civility in global politics. We have had to contend with the growing polarization of dialogue from every side of every argument. Today, we watch, holding our breath during a historic election: we will either elect the first woman, who represents a holding to the status quo, or the first rotten overripe tangerine who also happens to be a rampant misogynist, racist, and serial molester. To me, it seems like a really easy choice. But this has been the most contentious election season in my life, and quite possibly in the lives of my parents and grandparents.
Which brings me to These Are My Friends on Politics, by Billy O’Keefe, published last week by Inkshares. It’s a delightful little book presented as a children’s book for “adults who act like children.” How appropriate.
O’Keefe makes the bold statement that everyone knows to be true, but often ignores, especially during contentious political seasons: we become absolutely awful to each other, largely because of heavily polarized representation of the state of things, but when we aren’t talking politics, we are all reasonably nice people with the same overall desires. Controversial indeed.
Billy’s drawings suit the tone of the writing well—they grow increasingly chaotic, violent, and absurd. They depict what I feel myself becoming as I argue about politics: a monster.
I have had a difficult time with this election season, as I’m sure many of us have. I’m tired, angry, sad, confused, hopeful, and disheartened. Vitriol feels like its at an all-time high. That’s why it was a pleasure to read Billy’s book; it was a moment of levity in a time that is fraught with stress. When I read his book, I smiled at the absurdity of it all. It was therapeutic.