Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A new America?

And so, for many people, the unthinkable happened last Tuesday, November 8th. Donald Trump won the presidential election. My husband told me before I had even gotten out of bed the next morning, and my first response was s**t. Not because it was a real surprise to me (it wasn’t), but because I sensed that the repercussions would be negative. And they have been, for many people. It was as though the world turned upside-down, strong hardy trees were uprooted, and nothing was the same anymore. It was finding out through the gloating of Trump supporters on Facebook, some of whom are friends that you thought you knew, that you don't really know them. I have resisted the desire to delete them from my friends list, but that may change if they continue to gloat. Because the gloating has a hard edge to it, and because there is little to no tolerance of beliefs or opinions other than their own; your different opinion is almost viciously dismantled. Some of them are white people of privilege, with nice homes, nice cars and money for vacations and eating out several times a week. They are not lower middle class; they have worked for the success they have attained and they deserve it, but now that they have attained it, they have forgotten how they struggled. They are angry at the minorities they perceive are taking away their jobs and who are getting healthcare for free. I know this may be a problem, but I don't know that Facebook is the place to tackle it or to vent your hatred of these people. I cannot believe some of the articles posted by some of these people. Why not get involved in politics yourselves? They say they are not racist, and I’d like to believe them. But I don’t know if I can, because they do not stand up against the appointment of the white supremacist Steven Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist. They are not furious about the fact that the Ku Klux Klan is planning a parade in December (on my birthday as far as I’ve heard) to celebrate Trump’s win. Because it’s not just Democrat versus Republican anymore; it’s white America against multicultural America (many of whom may be racist themselves, but that’s another story because they are not verbalizing their vitriol so I have no way of knowing and commenting on it).

My disappointment extends to the Christian community as well. I am Catholic, and during the summer when I was in NY, I listened to different clergy members in person and on TV basically endorse Trump from their pulpits. Why? Because he is anti-abortion. Many of us are; but I do not vote on that one issue alone. Many of the Trump supporters did just that—voted for him because he is anti-abortion. Maybe that makes them better Christians and Catholics than I am. I am not in a position to judge them since I don’t know what is really in their hearts. It’s a true dilemma for me. Should I have voted for Trump just because he is anti-abortion? Is that the definition of a good Catholic? Then I am not one. Yet Christ said, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone". I hope that Christ will judge me on every other thing I do for my fellow human beings—my fight for justice in the workplace, my standing up against the bullying I see around me—again mostly in the workplace, my embracement of people of all colors and religions (something I’ve done all my life because I had parents who did the same and taught us that—I have friends from Africa, India, Iran, Europe and the States, who are Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Protestant and Catholic), my big heart that always makes room to include one more person into a social circle, my willingness to listen and understand the other side. Do I lose my temper at times and get angry? Do I lose my patience? Do I hate stupidity when I see it? The answer is yes to all those questions. And the answer will continue to be yes because I am a human being. There is nothing to forgive concerning the other side. The Trump supporters have done nothing wrong personally to me. And yet, I have moved away from them in my heart. I will be better off emotionally right now for having done so, even though I feel bad about saying that, because it doesn't sound Christian. We'll see what the future brings.

This past week has been quite upsetting to me emotionally. Before the election, I had a lot of anxiety, and after it, a lot of sadness. I feel sorry for American families who are split down the middle; sibling against sibling, parent against child—when it comes to who they voted for and why. Thanksgiving is coming up next week, and there is a lot to be thankful for. But it may be very difficult to focus on that because of the hurt feelings on both sides. I am not going to be one of those who calls for healing or tells people to get over it. I think this is one of the first times in my adult life that I have seen America wake up from its stupor to find itself possibly going over the cliff. I will tell people to stand up and fight for what they really believe in, even if it means that they cut ties with some people they know. Because isn’t that what Christ preached? He said "If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life". I’ve never really understood that preaching until this past week. Standing up for what we believe in may separate people, and it may cause grief and tears. But it may be the first real act of courage that we perform in our lives, whether we like it or not. No one said we would like it. We were not promised a rose garden on this earth.

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