This is a private message for any of my readers who may be upset by the new US administration and its policies. If you voted for our current president, you may not want to bother reading the rest of this post, except to see what the other side might be thinking.
But for those of you who are opposed to the changes currently taking place, though I stand with you, these are words you may not want to hear.
It is, I agree, great fun to poke fun at our new president; he makes an easy target, and there are lots of amusing things you can say or do to make your friends chuckle or recoil in horror. I confess I, too, have been guilty of succumbing to this temptation.
But what you need to know -- and my daughter figured this out a long time ago in an incident described in an earlier post -- is that bad behavior happens on both sides of the political fence, and what is shocking on one side of the fence does not suddenly become acceptable on the other side. Our job in times like these is to rise above the fray: as Michele Obama has said, to take the high road.
I can see several reasons for doing that right off the top of my head:
1. By descending to name calling you're no better than the opposition
2. By getting caught up in the crowd mentality you can be easily categorized (whining loser liberals)
3. In getting caught up in the drama you may be missing more important things that are going on
4. In promulgating the jokes and expressions of outrage you are perpetuating the divisions that led to the problem in the first place
5. Spending all your time being outraged and lashing out is bad for your health and bad for the health of those around you.
I also -- strongly -- suspect that one reason our president is the kind of person he is is because people have been treating him this way all his life. It's probably too late to love him back to health (although, as the Ohio State motto says, "With God all things are possible,") but I'm sure that by now he is immune to any verbal slings and arrows we hurl his way, although they may -- like sticking pins in a dragon -- just make him angrier. Not a good idea.
So sending him postcards -- as several friends have suggested -- to "overwhelm the man with his unpopularity and failure" is probably an exercise in futility. And, quite frankly, it's the easy way out: it's a 13 year old child responding to parental discipline by saying "I hate you" and slamming the door.
These are very difficult times, and we who care about the future of our children and our environment cannot afford the luxury of childish behavior. We need to be mature, calm, rational, centered adults; steady and strong in our principles -- which up until now have NOT included mocking those less fortunate than ourselves (and I do consider our president to be someone less fortunate). We need to remain attentive to our own needs and to the needs of those around us. We need to act in ways consistent with our theology, principles, philosophies, talents, and characters; we need to be light enough on our feet to be ready to hear and respond when we are called to act, and when we do act we need to do so from our deepest core of beliefs.
A friend asked what I propose as more productive ways to respond (as opposed to angry postcards to the White House) and I listed the following:
1. March if and when you are called to march.
2. Postcards/phone calls to congressmen and senators
3. Postcards and calls to businesses doing business with Trump family
4. Give money to the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center and Planned Parenthood
5. Give money to other agencies affected by Trump/republican policies and cutbacks
6. Find new and better ways to volunteer in your community
7. Reach out to people you know who are republican and work hard to establish common ground and figure out why they made their choices. Build a relationship of trust and listen to them: they need to know WE ARE NOT THE ENEMY!
8. When there are policies and decisions that trouble you, run those policies by your Republican friends and ask them to explain why they think it’s a good idea, whatever it is. Tell them what scares you, and give them a chance to reassure you so you can figure out what their perspective is and where they’re getting their information.
9. When you read something on Facebook, check your facts before passing it on -- and if it's at all inflammatory, well... just let it lie there. People are trying to inflame us, because that’s entertaining. And when we react badly, adding fuel to the flames, they point to it as “more bad/stupid liberal behavior.” (Thank you, Doris.)
10. Make extra time to find and stay in touch with your spiritual center; a constant state of outrage is dangerous to your health and to your ability to reason wisely.
12. Trust that God (a) loves EVERYBODY, even Republicans and (b) can work through all things, even this, for good.
In the end I believe that each of us brings a particular gift to this situation, and may even be called to act or speak in particular ways that may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar. We need to stay VERY attuned to our inner guides to be able to respond when and as our particular gifts are needed; we cant hear that call if we are busy shouting obscenities at Washington and to our friends.