Hopi Lessons: What Trump’s Election Says About All of Us

307px-Koshari_(clown)_kachina,_Arizona,_Hopi_people,_Honolulu_Museum_of_Art

A couple of weeks ago, in a Facebook post, one of my Hopi in laws called Donald Trump a “tsuku.”

It’s a Hopi word for “clown.” Which I also interpreted as an indication that he agreed with my opinion of our new president.

Until I remembered that on Hopi, clowns are sacred.

Visitors to Hopi sometimes find that odd, given that the ones they see in summer ceremonies do everything backwards, or in the most illogical or difficult way possible.

They also make fun of people — especially locals who’ve been the subject of well-deserved gossip of late. And they chase after women — especially non-Native ones who arrive dressed more for a day at the beach than a sacred ceremony. They even tease the katsina spirits in ways that no other tribe member would dare.

But that’s their job. Through their antics, questionable behavior is revealed and, usually, changed.

They are “mirrors.” They are us. The “worst” of us, exaggerated to such an extreme that we cannot miss the message.

So my in law was telling us two things. First, that Trump is “us,” too. Even those of us who insist he’s “Not My President.” And second, that nothing will change until we have accepted and digested that message.

I fought that idea, mightily, for several days. Especially when those executive orders started flying and Trump’s response to all forms of protest was as bellicose and bullheaded as ever.

But over the past few days, I’ve had a few minutes to breathe a bit. The Muslim ban was successfully “postponed.” A few souls on the “other side” have begun — however timidly — to speak up a little bit. And still others are passive aggressively leaking things they feel the public has a right to know.

We’re still nowhere near safe. But I was able to give that post a good think, finally. And what bubbled up from the depths took me by surprise.

I think my in law was right. We are all responsible for those election results, in one way or another. And once we who oppose him get past all those stages of grief, we will have to take a good hard look at what he’s shown us about ourselves.

And then get down to business. Not just protests, not just petitions, phone calls and fund raising, but some real soul searching.

We are going to have to ask why we did this to ourselves. And if — and how — we can “undo” it.

On Hopi, once the clowns leave the plaza, the katsinas dance and sing sacred songs to fix whatever ails that particular village or the tribe as a whole. That’s their job, to heal the wounds the clowns reveal.

The election revealed the rift. But right now, we’re still searching for that someone or something — a person, a moment — that will let that healing begin.

The wound is still raw. We’re still angry, both sides insisting that we have been wronged. That we will never surrender.

I’m mad as hell. I admit it. For reasons I will always consider right and just. But a part of me knows that until I’m able to see past that anger, I will be more a part of the problem than the solution.

I don’t have to give up the struggle. I can call a lie a lie or an injustice exactly that and fight to right that wrong.

But I have to admit to myself, gradually and then as wholeheartedly as I possibly can, that I am partly to blame. And that the brother or sister bellowing at me on the other side of that philosophical/political/religious/sociological wall feels just as righteously right as I do.

I have to learn how to speak to the human being behind the sign. I have to be a better human being myself. As a Catholic, I’ve got a killer role model. But it’s really, really hard to walk in His sandals.

Civility shouldn’t be as hard as it seems to be right now. I’m not sure how all this meanness snuck up on us, but it’s going to kill this country if we’re not careful. Trump is teaching us that, too.

I’ve heard die hard conservatives admit out loud on TV and radio that tweeting nasty names at people is counter-productive. I’ve got acquaintances who love Trump, but wince almost every time he speaks.

I’ve developed a “glare” for friends who can’t stop calling all Trump supporters racists and rednecks. But sometimes I have to mentally and spiritually stare myself down and ask forgiveness for something I’ve said.

So I’m working through those stages myself. One step forward, two back. Two forward, one back. Getting there.

And waiting for that “sign” from somewhere that will move us all a little farther down the road. I don’t know when it will come, or where it will come from, but I just know it’s on the way.

This is still America. And I know that no matter what side you’re on, you don’t want to lose whatever that means to you.

We know what we’ve got. We’re just not in agreement about how to keep it. Or fix it so that it’s what we’ve always believed it could be.

But Donald Trump, God bless him — yeah, I said it — is forcing us to think that through more seriously and purposefully than we have probably since the Founding Fathers wrote that Constitution we all say we’re trying to defend these days. That’s a good thing.

So God bless us and the America we all love, too.

And may we find “balance,” as my Hopi in law would call it, now that our “tsuku” has shown us who we are.

This post was originally published on Medium

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

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