The winter solstice is at hand, but when I woke this morning to the news that Sarah Palin’s son Track had been arrested for burglarizing the family home, taking a gun away from his father, and beating him bloody with it, my first reaction was not sympathy.
Good thing Track is a white male from a well-known family, I thought, otherwise Sarah Palin’s calling the police and telling them her son was “freaking out and on some kind of medication” might have led to his death at the hands of law enforcement, just as it has for so many people of color in similar circumstances.
My second reaction was kinder. A veteran of our country’s seemingly endless wars in the Middle East, Track Palin may be suffering from the PTSD that afflicts so many returning soldiers. He’s been involved in a similar domestic violence incident once before and on both occasions what he said at the time suggested he might be suicidal.
Any family would be alarmed and grief-stricken at seeing such behavior by their child. Any family would be disbelieving and desperate, hoping against hope that the first incident was an aberration, the second a mistake. Any family would want to believe that help is available, that their child can get that help, and that one day things will be different, better, happier.
We can all relate to that.
So … even if Sarah Palin used her son’s first domestic violence arrest as a political ploy, suggesting that President Obama’s policies had worsened his condition, even if her candidacy for the vice presidency legitimized ignorance and bigotry as political qualifications for the highest office in the land, and even if her profiteering conditioned parts of the electorate to dismiss the rapaciousness of the present administration as normal instead of criminal … she still is a mother of a child who’s in trouble, a member of a family in crisis.
And so, during this season, celebrated not just by Christians, but by many faiths, I have a solstice wish for Sarah: I hope the help your son needs is available, that he can find within himself the strength to accept it, and that the help will be successful.
I wish for you, as I wish for everyone I care about at every winter solstice, that your holidays will be happy ones, that your troubles will pass, and that your new year will be better than your old.