I couldn’t resist that line for my title, but let me be clear, our problem is a communication problem. We do not hear or understand each other. Right? You must see it. On this day after the election I see it profoundly demonstrated on my facebook feed as friends far and near are coming to terms with the aftermath of the results. There is much spewing and name calling and anger that does not know how and where to land its blows. And there is some celebrating, some relief expressed, and some gloating too. I made a promise to someone on that social media outlet that I would be part of the solution, part of the healing and the uniting and the good–not part of the demonization and destruction. Making that promise does not mean I won’t talk about what is sticky and uncomfortable and makes me squirm to reveal–not knowing how it will be received. However, it is that kind of thing is what we need to learn to do better, to be vulnerable to the degree that we expose our hearts and then hope we will be heard and understood. And to then take a turn to listen, hear and understand in return.
In that spirit, I have a message now to my friends and family and others who have supported Trump and are celebrating today. Please tread gently on the rest of our hearts.
Some of us are “never Trump-ers”, or Bernie or Hillary fans, and our hearts are broken and bruised today. Besides the normal grief of loss (which I hope we recognize could have been yours had Hillary won) there is another pain we are feeling today. This is what I want to know you understand: When we see you celebrate Trump’s victory, we think you are speaking the same message of hate and fear we understood from Trump’s campaign.
Please understand that I opposed him based on character issues. I saw him denigrate women, make fun of the disabled, disrespect the American muslim parents of a war hero, I heard him propose to build a wall along the Mexican border and threaten to deport EVERY immigrant family (legal or not), I heard him threaten to limit access to our country based on religion (causing me to fear for freedom of religion), threaten freedom of press and the right to free speech, and I heard how he talked of “the blacks, the Mexicans, the muslims, the gays”, etc. in a way that felt offensive and decried compassion or humanity, and failed to account for the greatness of this country’s diversity.
So because that is how I saw him, that is also the message I see and hear when you celebrate his victory. Ouch. In Trump’s victory, we who opposed him hear a resounding cheer for narcissistic, antisocial, misogynistic, sleazy, racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, immature, impulsive behavior. What we hear when you say “Make America great again” sounds like a code for a return to the 1950’s when the best and safest person to be in America is a white middle-class male. Really, we hear that and it makes us afraid.
Unfortunately, you may have noticed that much of the response today by “anti-Trump” folks on social media has not been kind or mature. I have seen us completely abandon the message of Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.” It has been thrown out the window today with ugly memes and name-calling. For that, I sincerely apologize. It is wrong to vilify you just because we are hurt and afraid now.
So, this is hard, because I actually do not think most of you are sending that message at all. I suspect most of you are not filled with hate for people different from you, and perhaps you are not willing to go back to the way life was in the 1950’s at the expense of all who are people of color or different ethnic origins. I think perhaps you have hopes and dreams that you have not talked about and you believe that Donald Trump as president will help. I think you share in some kind of ideology that makes room for all and considers the values and the constitution our nation was founded on.
Would you be so kind as to help us understand your true message as you celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief and talk of moving forward? Would you help your still troubled friends, family and neighbors see that you believe in a country that is big enough for all, and that you are willing to help bring understanding and unity across our divides? Tell someone what your heart’s hope in this new presidency really is? Try and unhook it from the rhetoric and the nasty memes. I will do the same.
Now, I ask all those in my social media circles who did not choose Trump to also choose to believe that perhaps hate and fear are not the victors here, or they certainly don’t have to be. I don’t ask that we ignore the facts when they are evident. But let’s try to be slow to anger and quick to listen some more to each other. We have a lot of work to do as a country. Are we up for it?