One of my jobs as a Pagan blogger is to be a voice of reason. Or at least that’s what you’ve told me over the years. Some of you, anyway.
I think we need a lot of voices of reason right now. Not necessarily voices of moderation, but voices of people who will look at a difficult situation and tell it like it is. This situation is so complicated I don’t think any of us can get it completely right, but between us all we can sort out the likely dangers from the unlikely ones and come up with a course of action – several courses of action – to make things better.
I’m going to try to be a voice of reason right now.
I’m not going to tell you how to feel. You feel what you feel: disappointment, anger, fear, betrayal, depression, even hatred. Whatever it is, whether it’s justified or not, whether you’re proud of it or not, allow yourself to feel what you feel – because you do.
I had a few drinks watching the election returns. Alcohol doesn’t put things in your head, it just lowers the filters so you say things you’d otherwise keep bottled up. I said some things late Tuesday night that I’m very glad my wife was the only one who heard. I was so angry. I can compromise on economic issues, but on issues of individual rights I can’t compromise an inch, and it pisses me off that anyone wants to take away the rights of others. I was angry. I’m still angry. I expect I’m going to be angry a lot in the next four years, and I’m not going to pretend I’m not.
Take the time you need. Feel what you feel.
I’m not going to tell you how to respond. I’ll be honest – I don’t think protest marches accomplish anything, and they haven’t since the 1960s. But if marching helps you deal with this situation, then march away.
Beyond that, there is no standard playbook for stopping a fascist dictator wannabe and his anti-science theocrat accomplices. Let’s try a lot of different approaches. If something works, let’s do it more. If it doesn’t work, let’s try something else.
I’m not going to tell you it’s going to be OK. It’s not going to be OK. It’s going to suck, a lot. It’s going to suck for me, and I’m a straight white man with a middle class job. I can only imagine how much it’s going to suck for those with less privilege and more vulnerability. We have to see things as they are even when they’re painful and scary.
But there are some things I am going to tell you.
The immediate need is for personal safety. There aren’t any more xenophobic racists in the country than there were in 2008 or 2012. But the election of Donald Trump has empowered and emboldened those who were already here. Do what you have to do to protect yourself.
To my friends who voted for Trump: if you see or hear anyone being the least bit rude – much less dangerously aggressive – toward an immigrant, a religious minority, a woman, an LGBTQ person, or anyone else – stand up. Say something. Intervene if you can, get help if you can’t. Not because this is your fault, but that’s what good people do when bullies attack the vulnerable. Needless to say, the same goes for the rest of us.The short-term future is uncertain. Like all politicians, Donald Trump made a lot of campaign promises he cannot or will not keep. He’s said some nasty things, but we don’t know what he’ll do, or what the Republican-controlled Congress (many of whom don’t like Trump, for reasons that may not exactly be comforting to those of us of a progressive orientation) will allow him to do.
The monster you can’t see is always scarier than the one you can see. Reality is bad enough – be mindful and don’t let your imagination make things seem worse than they are.
The mid-term future isn’t going to change as much as you think. Remember how little President Obama was able to get done in his first two years even with the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress. A country is a huge thing that turns slowly, even in this era of rapid change.
The Affordable Care Act will be repealed (though Trump is now saying he wants to keep parts of it), but it will be replaced with something. That new something will help some and harm others – until we know what it is, you can’t know which group you fall into. It would be prudent to plan as though it will harm you, to the extent you can.
Marriage equality and the right to an abortion are constitutional rights. Neither the President nor Congress can repeal them, and Trump’s first Supreme Court appointment merely restores the status quo. Pray for the health of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and pray that John Roberts develops a conscience and a backbone.
The long-term future was always going to suck. The American empire is crumbling – not even electing Bernie Sanders would have reversed that trend. The ultrarich continue to siphon money from the poor and squeeze the middle class out of existence. Reproductive rights have been under attack even during the Obama administration. We’ve passed the point of no return on climate change. Trump will accelerate it, but Hillary would not have stopped it.
Which is not to say there was no difference between the two. There was. A Hillary Clinton Presidency would have been much better for women, immigrants, racial and religious minorities, and LGBTQ people. Donald Trump has said – directly and indirectly – he intends to make things worse for all those people. It is no surprise they, everyone who knows someone in one of these groups, and all of us who generally believe in treating everyone with compassion and respect, are scared to death and mad as hell.
I cannot tell you how to feel or how to respond. I encourage you to acknowledge and express your feelings as deeply as necessary, for as long as necessary.
And then when you’re ready, start turning those feelings into reflections, reflections into plans, and plans into actions.
I’m going to be a compassionate presence in a xenophobic world. I’m going to support people and groups doing progressive work. I’m going to take care of myself and my community. And I’m going to work on my flying skills.
What about you?