I am going to just be frank with you: I woke up with a sick feeling in my stomach this morning. And yes, it was because Donald Trump won the election. And yes, that is a problem for me because I believe him to be a man of poor temperament who actively perpetuates ideas that are ethnocentric, xenophobic and misogynistic. Bottom line: he seems hateful and bigoted. My initial gut level reaction has been to rely on the reality, and it IS a reality, that my hope lies in God not man. This truth has moved the immovable, changed the unchangeable, redeemed the non-redeemable. Not the least of which was me. And because I know that so deeply, I want to share that truth with all of those who are hurting and scared about the idea of what a Trump presidency will mean.
In my earnest desire to help the hurting heal I want to remind people of that reality. But my reality isn’t the same as that of the children who are afraid their parents will be taken away from them. It isn’t the same as that of the mother of two girls who spent her whole life fighting to be treated as equal. And it isn’t the same as that of the father who simply cannot afford to insure his family because his son has a “pre-existing condition” and subsequently lives in fear that anything will happen. I am a white, middle class, heterosexual man which doesn’t mean life is never hard for me, believe me. However, there are men, women and children who woke up afraid this morning. Not because they don’t know what the future holds, but because they believe they do. If I really want to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are hurting and scared, those who are weeping, I simply need to weep with them; sit with them; be present and listen.
In our culture there is almost nothing more effective and more powerful than listening. Not listening so that we know how to respond; not waiting the respectful amount of time before we “drop some knowledge”. I mean to listen intentionally. The kind of listening that has me watching the faces of those who are speaking and see the emotions that are swirling around behind their eyes. When I allow my self to become so totally engrossed in what they are saying that I imagine what it would be like to be them. I have seen this play out in all different relationships in my life. With folks that are different from me. I have had the chance to really listen to the homeless and come to understand that they are not what I assume them to be. I have had the chance to listen to the African American community on issues of racial injustice and have moved my heart closer to their struggle. I have had the chance to listen to the LGBTQ community and feel a deep and personal sense of remorse and repentance surrounding how the Church has treated them. It is these type of connections that make us the UNITED States of America, ONE nation under God. And it is this very thing that I fault Donald Trump for failing to do.
I need to admit that I don’t actually know what kind of man he is. I know what I have read and seen in my research (yes, I did research) but I recognize that almost everything written now-a-days is biased or slanted in one way or another. But that isn’t the point of this post. Here comes the really uncomfortable part. I need to apologize to Donald Trump’s supporters. I have seen your posts and read your articles and I will be honest, some of them were absurd. But to assume that someone either practices or condones the things I believe he is guilty of simply because they support him for president is hypocritical of me. I have listened to folks who support him. I have some very close friends who are happy that he won. They see this election as a victory for everyday people. They are feeling disenfranchised and oppressed by the very wealthy in our country, by those with more power than them. I still believe that his campaign was driven by fear. But I cannot fault people for being afraid; for feeling like something, anything, needed to change.
So where do we go from here? Nowhere. We stay right where we are and take responsibility for our nation. Whether you think that Donald Trump will be the worst president in history and the government is no longer of any use to us, or you think that Donald Trump’s victory is a celebration of the everyday people of America finally having a say in our country, the outcome should be the same: We the People of the United Sates need to take personal responsibility in making this nation the greatest version of itself and we need to do it together! How do we take personal responsibility together? I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly how, but I promise you it starts with listening.