It’s dire and then some

Dear President Trump,

I accidentally just typed “Dare” for “Dear” and almost let it stand. It’s a pretty great thing to riff off of:

“Dare President Trump…..”

To do what? What if we dared you to be kind for a day – to everyone? What if we dared you to go and spend an entire day with a family that lives next door to a factory or a superfund site? Or how about if we dared you to serve free coffee to people waiting for care in a Chicago ER on a Friday or Saturday night? I don’t for a hot second think you would ever take these dares – you show “love” by throwing rolls of paper towels at people whose homes were destroyed by climate change-related flooding. But still, it would be interesting to see what dares those of us who are un-served and unseen by you and yours on good days, and who are being clobbered by you all the other 363 days of the year, could come up with.

Because I get that this is a futile, alternative reality, sort of exercise I’m going to stop it now and switch to the topic that woke me up early – my worry that in using the word “dire” yesterday in reference to our collective situation I was being histrionic and disingenuous. I was feeling worried that I was speaking (writing) out of turn since my personal situation is still comfortable and I don’t personally feel threatened by you – I’m not worried about being “disappeared” or fired from my job for speaking out. I was also feeling worried that “dire” was overstating our collective situation since day-to-day life seems to be ticking along ok for those whose lives have generally been allowed to tick along ok. Since I was piling on myself, I also worried that it was inappropriate of me to claim things are dire for other people, especially when many people’s situations have been tenuous, if not dire, since this whole U.S. thing got started.

So I fretted. I hate misspeaking because I don’t like to be wrong and because I’m less apt to be taken seriously if I’m wrong or perceived to be exaggerating things.

Of course this led me to look up the definition of “dire” this morning, which I did even before opening email and here it is pretty hot off the press (complete with synonyms and two measly antonyms):

  1. (of a situation or event) extremely serious or urgent. “dire consequences”

Similar: terrible / dreadful / appalling / frightful / awful / horrible / atrocious / grim / unspeakable / distressing / harrowing / alarming / shocking / outrageous / grave / serious / grievous / disastrous / ruinous / calamitous / catastrophic / cataclysmic / devastating / crippling / miserable / wretched / woeful / hopeless / irretrievable / lousy / chronic / direful / parlous

Opposite: good

  1. (of a warning or threat) presaging disaster. “dire warnings about breathing the fumes”

Similar: ominous / portentous / gloomy / doom and gloom / sinister / grim / dreadful / dismal / unpropitious / inauspicious / unfavorable / pessimistic

Opposite: encouraging

I actually feel much better now since laying all this out. Doing so lets me see that our situation really is dire, as in extremely serious and urgent with presaged disaster looming if we don’t turn this mess around. Not only are you all threatening the very core of democracy, but if you all prevail, we haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of buckling down and dealing with all the other (truly) dire shit that either threatens us or is already affecting legions of us. Thus, the situation is dire – I didn’t get it wrong at all.

May we be safe in these dire times.
May we be willing to step out of our comfort zones to protect democracy.
May we see that our futures depend on getting you the hell out of office.
May we not make peace with the grievous wretchedness that is your presidency.

Tracy Simpson

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