As I sit at the circulation desk observing the students scattered across the room, still in the library this late in the afternoon, I look around the room, soaking in all that it has to offer, including the yellow-white rays of the late afternoon sun filtering through the high windows. I love the shelves of books; I love the displays of magazines, newspapers, videos, and new acquisitions. I love watching the students fully absorbed at the computers as they do research for an upcoming class assignment or catch up with friends via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites that I don’t know about yet. And I love talking to students as they approach my desk to check out a book or ask for reference assistance. For the most part, it is a calm and peaceful place to be this afternoon – that is, except for the reference shelf behind me.
What I don’t like today are two paper masks propped up on display behind me on the reserve shelf. One face is that of Hillary Clinton; the other is Donald Trump. They have been placed there to bring attention and awareness to the election for whoever happens to look in our direction. What I find most disturbing is that the eyes on the masks are cut out. When you look at them, you see right through them to the shelf behind. Their eyeless faces seem to follow me wherever I go. To me, they are downright creepy looking! And they convey a message to me that I find very distasteful – that of eyes that don’t see, and frozen faces that one can look straight through to the blank wall behind them. Is this a foreboding of what is to come? Or am I just being overly anxious about our future leader, whichever one it will be?
This election cycle is very distressing to me. I take my voting privilege very seriously. But I can’t wholeheartedly support either of our candidates for President. In fact, I can’t support either one at all! I have heard it said time and time again – we will be voting for the lesser of two evils. But which one is the lesser? I don’t know. I’ve done my homework learning about their platforms and promises (which I don’t hold my breath counting on them to keep if elected). I’ve heard and read about the mud-slinging and moral and ethical failures on the parts of each one, and it makes me nauseous. I’ve considered not voting at all. My son insists that I vote. Abstaining is not acceptable in his eyes. I must make a decision and go into the voting booth next month to cast my ballot for someone. I know that he is right; I wish I had a clearer focus on who will receive my vote. I wish I had better choices than I have.
I am normally not one to write about political matters – I most definitely don’t like to discuss politics – and this will be the last, and only, thing that I write concerning this election. I look out at the students seated at the study carrels and computer stations, and wonder if they even think about this election and who their next President will be. I pause to consider if they realize what is at stake for the future of this country with the upcoming election. They are more concerned this afternoon with their essays for literature classes, completing an assignment for psychology class involving books from our reserve shelves, solving the latest calculus problem, struggling to understand college algebra, or texting on their phones. The two masks of Hillary and The Donald don’t seem to bother them at all.
Not like they bother me.