Lessons from “Les Mis” in the Age of Trump

Les Misérables premiered on Broadway in 1987, after earlier versions in France and London. I first encountered Les Mis in the early ‘90s. My church youth group took at trip to New York City that included seeing Les Mis. I had never paid attention to the musical before—other than seeing the ubiquitous t-shirts with the image of Cosette on the front. But after seeing the musical live in New York City, suddenly all of my peers were listening not only to the 1987 Original Broadway Cast recording, but … [Read more...]

Top 5 Words for Understanding Trump

1. Demagogue - "a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument."2. Gaslight - "manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity."3. Panjandrum - "a person who has or claims to have a great deal of authority or influence."4. Projection - "a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by … [Read more...]

Understanding Trump Supporters: Reactions to the End of White Christian America

In the 1976 film, Network, there’s a famous scene in which a  network anchor looks into the camera and tells the viewers at home:I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!…. Then we'll figure out what to do.… But first get up out of your chairs, … [Read more...]

What Would It Mean To Respect the Dignity of Every Person—Without Exception?

I recently finished reading a provocative new book by Nathan Walker titled Cultivating Empathy: The Worth and Dignity of Every Person — Without Exception. Nate invites us to experiment with our moral imagination: “the ability to anticipate or project oneself into the middle of a moral dilemma or conflict and understand all the points of view.” Note that, “Understanding does not necessarily mean agreement” (xvii-xviii).Consider the experience of Ruby Bridges (1954-). In 1960, when she was six- … [Read more...]

Challenging Trump’s Islamophobia: Demagoguery & Democracy

The Huffington Post adds the following Editor’s note to every article they publish about Donald Trump: "Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S." When I encounter this line of fear-mongering, I am both angered and saddened that the normal everyday lives of most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims too ofte … [Read more...]

Whose Side Are You On? The Legacy of Anne Braden for Today

This summer at UU General Assembly, the author and activist Chris Crass (1973 - ) facilitated a workshop on “Collective Liberation.” One of his questions that stuck with me is, “Who was it that got you involved in the movement for justice?” That question made me pause in gratitude for all the activists whose sacrifices made possible the social progress we enjoy today. I also experience that question as an invitation to consider the way that we can inspire others to join the movement toward “peace … [Read more...]