Sunday, January 22, 2017

Maybe We Can All Win?

I’m not sure I know how to express what I feel. I truly, truly don’t mean this to be political, even though it involves politics.  I am not political. (or technical- this is my second time writing because my blogger app ate the first one-sigh!) I am so not political that when I took one of those silly online quizzes that tells you what political party your views line up with they came up with a big “?” for me. Just like the boy Joseph who didn’t know what church to join, I have always felt strongly about NOT JOINING any of them. Other than a 1 month stint to vote in the primaries, I have been unaffiliated. I just hate how rigidly people sit on their sides. I don’t see anything in black and white, not even shades of gray.  Most everything seems to me to be an intricate kaleidoscope of many colors. Truthfully I sit in the middle and lean a bit right. I readily admit the minute Trump announced his candidacy, I started speaking out against it because there were just too many alarming things about him to sit around and not warn people of what I saw. I am no great admirer of Hillary Clinton either and it was disheartening to see the Republican Party implode instead of offering up a viable alternative.  So, the whole election was very discouraging for me.  I do believe in upholding the election, so there you have it and in that sense I accept it and want it to work.  Even as awful and scary as Trump is, I believe he wants to be a good president and could be part of our country accomplishing some good things, in fact, if I were to let my overly optimistic nature take over, I could see the possibility of many things changing for the better. Wouldn’t place any bets on it, but I can hold that possibility out there. Mostly it feel like it’s gonna be a mess, but maybe, just maybe we can take a mess and clean house and build something better in the aftermath.

January 20 still seemed like a funeral, like something fundamental and valuable was just ripped away. Sounds silly when we enjoy great freedoms still, still get to vote, still have the peaceful transfer of power, still have a pretty great system. Also, things have never been simple or not messy and politicians in general have left a lot to be desired, and it's been on the decline for a while, but how do I explain this? It’s like something really got left by the wayside this time around.  If we compared the US to a body, we could say it has been a pretty healthy, strong body. It’s now getting kind of old, but it’s held up pretty well, in spite of all the junk food and overeating and lack of exercise and late nights and partying and all.  So, sometimes it feels easily winded, or creaky jointed, and gassy and all but ya know, it’s not that young anymore.  Then one day, it gets in a fight, gets cut open, and there, inside is this big ugly pussy mass that shouldn’t be there. We’re sitting in the operating room now, but instead of just extricating the mass and cleaning up, everyone is just arguing about what it is, if it is malignant, whose fault it is, what to do, should we even care? Why don’t we just get used to it, we were feeling alright, anyways, maybe that mass should be there…

So what do I mourn? That so much decency got left outside the door. Truth, respect, and human decency, transparency, and good old ethics seem gone from the scene. Unity, unity was already pretty much gone. These things are what make a society, what make it possible to preserve the freedoms our country has enjoyed for so long. That is what is so sad.  Trump didn’t do this all by himself, he just saw the opportunity to seize upon the tide and use his ability to bring out the worst in everyone and play it to his advantage. I can’t believe I am writing this but I even miss the old news reporting.  I mean, there were already so many problems in that industry to begin with, but even a year ago, things seemed so much better than today. I am embarrassed to admit that when I see a headline of a natural disaster pop up on my screen, I am actually relieved to see a real news story again, because most every national outlet is pretty much spewing forth gossip column material 24/7, and they can’t seem to see how to extricate themselves from this whirlwind that fuels Trump’s flames.  

The other thing I feel is disenfranchised. I don’t feel like I had any say in who we even got to choose from.  I watched our votes for the lesser of two evils get walked all over in the primaries, and the electoral college decide what they were doing before I even voted early..  You know, I appreciate Trump taking the time and effort to prepare a speech that was composed of complete, coherent sentences. Truly, I am proud of him for raising the bar. I just feel like those words “January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again,” were exactly the opposite of what I felt was happening. His speech kinda had the undertone of Scar’s inaugural address instead.  

I’m not going to fight to get rid of the guy, I’m not going to oppose his every sniff. I’m not secretly hoping he will screw up so bad he will be impeached, nor immolated in his tanning bed.  I’m praying he can open his mind and listen to some of the better voices surrounding him.  I hope he does well in his responsibilities. I hope he can work with others to come up with some real, sustainable, good changes instead of gimmicks. I hope the same thing for everybody who was elected.

The sad thing is, that even if the best happens, some of the worst already did.  SO, even though I certainly don’t agree with any of the violence or lashing out, or crazy foaming of the mouth rants on the internet, and I think peaceful protests and scrutiny came much, much too late in the process, I just have to say, that when I see the response to any protesting or any scrutiny of any kind being- “Stop being whiners and sore losers” I just want to say, in many cases, I think it is so much more than that.  I don’t think people are protesting their team losing or not getting their way, I think they are protesting the THING that is going on, the death of the country we used to be-the security we felt in our freedoms. I understand why some people felt they had to vote for Trump in spite of all he said and did. My big concern, however, is really all that was just overlooked. I mean, just a few election cycles ago, Howard Dean’s candidacy in the Democratic primaries died for yelling like an enthusiastic cheerleader at a rally. He apparently didn’t posses the decorum and dignity of a president. Yet here we are, with a man who regularly invents his own truth and feels above all ethics, who insulted basically every category of people on the earth except people whose name is Donald Trump or are his direct descendants, who has lashed out against everyone else’s free speech and threatened some unorthodox, unconstitutional and authoritarian types of things, and we just overlooked it all and elected him.  He got away with so much. Why? Everyone believes his delusion that he is above it all? Does any other politician getting away with anything give him a free pass? Do we really worship and fear money that much? Now that he's here to stay, Can he get away with any of those threats? Hopefully not, but even if not, even if it was all hot air, what kind of precedent has been set?  We are being completely desensitized to really dangerous rhetoric.  Someday, if we continue down this road, we will be living with a dictator. Let me tell you, Pinochet was a great dictator, he got the best economists to straighten out the economy in Chile and mobilized women’s centers-centros de madres- where they met to help each other as communities. He laid down the rule of law and created a more prosperous nation.  He just did that at the cost of too many lives- of rounding up people in the national stadium for the sport of torturing and killing them.  He did i at the cost of free speech, of families divided by the professional and political sides they fell on. He did it by getting rid of or silencing those he found undesirable, that is, disagreed with him.  Eventually, after many years, he stepped down, but he took a LOT with him, and he left a country that had to relearn to govern itself and heal so much trauma, so many wounds. Would that ever be worth it? I’m grateful for what he did to help his country, but I can never condone how he did it. I would never want more prosperity at that cost.   

Even if something like that never happens here, I have witnessed another sad thing.  Trump's hate speech has emboldened the hateful. And the ironic thing is, I don't think he is overtly even KKK material, he just doesn't care for anyone really. We are just pawns. If you don't meet a need for him, he's happy to throw you under the bus. If you do serve his needs, you are his buddy. so whatever gets him more attention and more any case, I have seen even in my nice respectful neck of the woods some ugliness and overt discrimination I hadn't seen before.  Sadly, those feelings must have been there before, just unexpressed. As a people, we are seeing so much polarization and judgement of anything anyone says or does related to all the junk that has come up around this whole election. On the one hand, I guess it is good we can see how bad things were on the inside, worse than we thought, but now that it’s exposed, it needs to be healed.

SO, here is my plea. I’m doing my level best to generate good feelings towards our new president; compassionate, helpful thoughts. I’m not going to pretend he is someone he isn’t, I’m just going to try to understand him. It takes a lot of work, so much so, that in 4 years I will have prayed so much, and become such an expert at loving kindness meditation, done so much qi gong and yoga, that I will either be sainted, become enlightened or at least have the clearest chakras in the valley. I’m going to watch and learn and try to speak out respectfully when I see concerning things and try to suggest helpful things. I hope we can all try in whatever way we can to reconcile. I just ask that we can all not forget that we do have time to be nice, to encourage respect, to remember that this kind of talk and attitudes we have been exposed to is not normal, and never should become normal. I know, previous presidents haven't been normal either- I know there has already been an erosion of ethics and of upholding the constitution, but that doesn't make brashly flaunting words to further go down that path a good idea. disrespectful, hateful speech and actions are never normal or alright. I have never heard another president talk like this one does (hope he at least curbs it a bit now), so let's not ever get used to this. Let's pledge as a people to BE the opposite- to be more respectful and more kind.  Can we all do one more thing in that regard as a society? Can we stop lashing out at each other? The wound is open right now, and the tumor exposed, what if we just started listening to each other, and here’s the great thing, we don’t even have to agree with each other- we just need to really listen; for understanding, so we get each other. And then ever so gently, maybe we can open our minds to new possibilities. Maybe there is no right or wrong on some of the things people waste so much energy fighting over.  Maybe it is right for one member of a group to quit rather than perform at the inauguration and maybe it is right for the others to go.  Maybe we need both things to happen, you know? Maybe #notmypresident doesn't mean the writer is a sore loser or subversive in most cases. Maybe it means they think he does have time to be nice, that our leaders should be nice. Maybe it's O.K. to either use that hashtag or not use it, depending on what feels right to you. Maybe some of us need to march in protest and others need to stay home and just spread kindness. Maybe it is good for one person to investigate or speak out on the ethics of the president’s plan to separate from his business and maybe someone else needs to defend his position. Maybe both sides have their heart in the right place, even if they are to some extent misguided. Maybe all the issues are more faceted than the simple North and South poles of a magnet. Maybe instead of despising the bigoted, we could listen and respectfully dialog and help them let go of their fears.  Maybe most all of us just love this place we call home, and we should recognize that this is the thing at the root of our angst, anger and fears.  If we recognize we have that love in common, and that fear of losing it is what is fueling our prejudices, divisions, judgement and failings, we can stop ignoring that tumor and work together to gently remove it and heal instead of fueling it's growth.  Maybe we could become indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, for real. Wouldn’t that be great? 


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