By guest blogger Dr. Linda Seger, author of Jesus Rode a Donkey: Why Millions of Christians are Democrats
Recently I talked to a fellow Democrat friend of mine who mentioned she had been binge watching MSNBC because she couldn’t believe what was going on with Trump. I had also been doing the same – far too much television -news watching. Every day something new and ridiculous unfolds. Every day one part of us is utterly astounded and another part is simply not surprised.
The campaign told us everything we needed to know, and yet, some naively and needlessly hoped that this wealthy businessman would suddenly be good at a job he had never held, had no experience, and no interest in learning. Many of us add – “We knew. We just can’t figure out why others didn’t.”
What kind of story is this, anyway?
Some of us are wondering whether this is a soap opera – maybe not, since issues are too important. Or a thriller – no, not enough action for a thriller. Too many people aren’t doing anything. Nobody seems to be aware of the urgency. A psychological thriller? No. No hero to root for has yet come forth. A horror film? Yes, that’s closer! We see the monster getting bigger and bigger, eating up his victims, and everyone around him helpless to either recognize the danger or know what to do. So, we watch with wide eyes and bated breath and trembling hands.
But some of us are agog for many other reasons. People of my generation – who are around the same age as Trump – have gone through the Civil Rights era of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Women’s Movement. the human potential movement, the liberation movement of Native Americans and African-Americans and Hispanics and Asians, and the anti-war movement. We wonder how all these movements could have passed anyone by without influencing them.
How did Trump miss out?
For all of the work we did to become sensitive to the plight of the oppressed, we realize there are still a number of people of our generation who did no work at all. And somehow, they got away with it. For many of us felt we had no choice. Our fellow human beings pulled at us, nudged us, pushed us, screamed in our ears when necessary, softly cajoled, insisted we respond. And we did, not just because we were impacted, but because we felt it was the right thing to do. Attention had to be paid. And as proper citizens of this world, we stepped up to the plate to try to create a kinder world.
And just as we thought maybe we were getting some place and Hope and Compassion were just over the horizon, we watched everything dashed, destroyed, over powered, conquered, leaving us bereft.
This wasn’t because Clinton wasn’t elected, but because everything we had worked so hard for during the last 50 years was suddenly, abruptly, brought an end to. We were devastated about what had happened to the issues, and how it happened that Comey and Russia had influenced our democracy. And why was it that so few people seemed to care?
But we were also stymied and bewildered because so many of us, of Trump’s age, had been brought up in a world of psychological insights. We learned to reflect on, and grapple with, problems with our parents and authority figures. We learned to take responsibility for our actions. To apologize when needed. To say “I” statements.
We learned to listen. We learned to respect the rights of others. To co-operate rather than compete, and to play well with others. It seemed to be the fabric of our world, and we wonder how someone missed it all. All the reflection and desire for change that was part of our culture seemed to have no effect on this man.
We are sickened to realize how the values that we believed were part of the grounding of our democracy suddenly seem irrelevant. Diversity? Obviously not. Equal rights? Nope. Freedom of the Press? Not even close! Freedom of Assembly? No way. Freedom of Religion? Better be a Christian – a conservative one – or you might be banned. Checks and balances? No, not to his liking. Working together in Congress? No, just more of the same divisions, but this time, with more hatred and spite and nastiness thrown into the mix.
I had assumed that most us had learned empathy.
That we had learned something about empathy and sensitivity through all these years and through all our relationships. That we had learned to care, not to push and shove, not to bully or call people names. Many of us were reasonably well brought up. We learned not to lie, not to hit, not to encourage hitting, and methods for resolving conflict and working things through. And we were taught to love and not hate.
How can anyone have lived through the last 70 years in such a bubble that common decency and a desire for a good society seems to have passed him by?