Post Election Reflection: Not Going Back

Ours is a divided nation.   The rhetoric of this election has highlighted and inflamed the differences within groups and regions and sometimes even within families. We wonder whether we can be restored as a nation.  

We think of the vision celebrated in our Pledge of Allegiance ‘one Nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all’. We are aware that many feel justice is denied them and many feel left behind. An underlying sense of fear and even hopelessness permeate our psyche as a people.

My concern is that our divisions not be glossed over simply in the name of unity.  Rather I hope that we may come to understand the causes of our division…and perhaps in our understanding, we may begin the essential work of addressing what separates us.  Only then can we form what Abraham Lincoln called ‘a more perfect Union’.

A big part of our work is acknowledging the pain caused by harsh words and thoughtless rhetoric during this long election process.   For Mr. Trump to be successful in his presidency (which for the sake of the nation I hope he is) he needs to take the lead in stepping away from the harmful rhetoric that helped him get elected.

Women and girls have been exposed to his misogynistic language.  People of color feel marginalized.  Immigrants, legal and undocumented feel vulnerable and exposed.  If Mr. Trump wishes to truly be a president for all the people he needs to apologize for the words he used and offer safeguards to those who feel marginalized.

Whether he has the capacity or desire to bring people together is an open question. For the sake of our country I hope and pray he does.

I say this in particular out of concern and love for the generation of my children.  The millennials  will soon surpass in size my generation, the boomers.  Millennials have already begun to take on the mantle of leadership and by the next election will be the largest voting block.

Millennials were raised believing in racial justice and full inclusion of LGBTQ neighbors.  They believe too in full rights for women even as they confront the persistent reality of misogyny in our nation and world.

What gives me hope is knowing that the millennial generation will not go back. They will not accept the ‘locker room talk’ of a man who is now our president-elect.   Nor will they allow voter suppression by race to stand. Nor will they allow a government to control their reproductive rights.

photo-of-hope

Nor will they stand idly by while immigrant neighbors, legal and undocumented, live in fear.  Last night in a 60 Minutes interview Mr. Trump said he will move to forcibly remove or incarcerate up to 3 million undocumented immigrants who have a police record http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/60-minutes-interview-president-elect-donald-trump/ar-AAkfQd7?OCID=ansmsnnews11.

I wonder who will be picked up in this massive dragnet in addition to the ‘violent criminals’ that Mr. Trump speaks of?  Will this include people with parking tickets or other misdemeanors?

The reality is that families will be torn apart.  As people of faith will we take to heart these words in Leviticus 19:34?

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

To a large degree our young people have been awakened.  A question to my generation and to people of faith…have we been awakened too?

I will stand up for the hopes of my children. To demand that we become ‘ a more perfect union’.  If need be I will turn to the non-violent example of Dr. King and work to hold our elected officials accountable in our shared pursuit of ‘liberty and justice for all’.

Mr. Trump will have a successful presidency to the extent  he understands that he has bridges not walls to build.  Bridges between generations, regions and cultural groups that make up this great nation.

 

A Letter to Trump Supporters

The letter below was penned by my friend Ray Schellinger in the wee hours of this morning upon Donald Trump being declared president-elect.  Ray is a Christian missionary who has dedicated his life to advocating for those on the margins. He directed Debra’s House a shelter for women fleeing domestic abuse in Tijuana, Mexico.  He currently works on behalf of refugees fleeing violence and oppression.

This past week he was in Jordan visiting refugee camps for those fleeing civil war in Syria.  Ray is a man of faith and integrity.  He takes to heart the words of Jesus ‘whatever you do unto these the most vulnerable of my sisters and brothers you do unto me’ (Matthew 25:40).  I invite you to read:

My dear friends, I cannot begin to express how heavy my heart feels right now. I know some of you greet this news with the opposite reaction. You are very happy, perhaps because you were truly afraid of what a Clinton presidency might mean. I am happy for you, and hope that this decision that you helped make happen will bring the positive things that you envision for our country.

I am afraid, however, and ask that you try to comprehend my fears and those of so many others who are offended by the character of the campaign that was run. We have seen blatant racism, sexism, xenophobia, and a pandering to the worst angels of our nature.

I fear for migrants who live here with us now, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, people of color, and many more of our most vulnerable citizens. I fear for our social safety net, for the advances we’ve made and civil rights, and for the availability of education and healthcare. I fear for the environment, and for the state of the earth that we leave for our children, I fear for the growing chasm between rich and poor in the US, as well as the undue influence of money in our political system, I fear for the relationships we have with the global community and allies, and the difficult International situations that we must navigate with wisdom and consistency.

I know these things are important to you too, and I ask that we join together to safeguard the values that we hold most dear, and to protect the lives of our most vulnerable. Please understand, that though I respect the will of the majority, I do not believe that the majority is always right.

Please remember that it is often a tiny minority which stands in prophetic witness to justice and the right. This incoming administration will have a great deal of power, and one party will hold the advantage in all branches of government. There is a great potential to abuse this majority. I am not at all confident that a President Trump can temper the power he will hold with a desire to protect the interests of the minority or the unity of the country.

If this was your choice, then this becomes your responsibility-to hold your candidate accountable to the wellbeing of us all. I join with you in praying that these fears are unfounded. I pray that we can continue to come together to work for justice, peace, and hope.

Shalom, my friends, shalom.