I have started this blog post a couple of times in my head. It still doesn’t sound right. I don’t know that it ever will. I don’t know that it is capable of being coherent. I don’t know that it will make any impact on life in general. I suspect that it will be too long and you won’t read it, as the title suggests.
That’s fine. I don’t know that it’s necessarily for you. It might just be for me.Still, I hope someone reads it because maybe it will help them think and have a clearer notion of what they would like to say.
On Tuesday, this country, OUR country voted out of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of a woman president. Fear of immigrants. Fear for safety. Fear of economic confusion. And, you can couch that in any justification you’d like, but know that it was fear. And some of you will say I’m an elitist liberal who is out of touch with mainstream America. You are wrong. I grew up in white middle-class America. I live in white middle-class America. Did I get an education? Yes, but I worked for it. It took me 16 years of hemming and hawing, complacence and obstinance, laziness and aggravation, to get my college degree. And I got it mostly to simply maintain my existence in white middle-class America. However, the education that I continue to get is from an understanding that my education, my skin color, my income level…none of that entitles me to behave as those I’m a better human and that I deserve more than anyone else.
I get that some people are frustrated that their jobs are seemingly disappearing. Some of those jobs were always going to disappear. Automation and streamlined production processes make it simpler for companies to do more with less people or no people at all. I no longer need someone to operate the elevator for me, but I do need someone to fix the elevator if it’s broken. That’s progress. Some of those jobs disappeared because it’s simply cheaper to do business in other countries where they don’t worry so much about things like worker safety, overtime, or insurance. I’m glad we have child labor laws, so that my kids don’t have to work 14 hours a day in toxic conditions for pennies. Aside: although, it wouldn’t kill them to bring in a buck or two now and then to help with the mortgage.
I get that some people are upset that their world view is changing. When they grew up, men were men and those men married women who were women. I grew up in that same world. But, as my mother-in-law is fond of saying, “Only the flexible survive.” If you can’t see that there are people who find their biological nature to be a hindrance to their happiness and that their flexibility enables them to live in this world, then your intolerance becomes an issue; an issue that must take a back seat to an old way of life. And, just because you’ve never seen a woman be president before, doesn’t mean she can’t or shouldn’t. As a matter of fact, you’d probably be surprised if you looked back in time to see how many First Ladies might have made a better nation if they’d only been President; Abigail Adams, Lucretia Garfield, Edith Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Betty Ford, to name but a few.
This country was built in its entirety on the backs of immigrants in some form or other. Even if your ancestors came over on the Mayflower, they were still immigrants. They may have been Irish or Polish, Chinese or Iranian or Bosnian, Vietnamese, Filipino, or any other host of nationalities that this country should have welcomed with open arms, but resisted time and again because they were different. Yet, the country survived, and grew stronger, because these people, my ancestors included, became Americans. They saw a great country and they came here, sometimes maybe without the proper paperwork, for the life they could not achieve in their own country. America is different. It is made of differences. We thrive on those differences; they should not be what divides us.
I’ve heard many calls for unity and healing and peace over the last hours. I’ve also heard of many despicable acts. The church I grew up in believed in the notion of turning the other cheek; to be kind to your oppressors. It’s hard to do when you’re repeatedly slapped. It’s hard to do when your oppressors want to see you eliminated from their lives either by deportation or by violence. I don’t fear for myself because by sheer genetic happenstance, I am light skinned and biologically male, and my formative years were spent in overwhelmingly Christian circumstances. But, I do fear for my friends who love people who happen to be biologically the same, my friends whose skin is darker than mine, my friends whose place of worship has a different symbol on the front door. I am content to join in the unity and healing, provided that the peace exists for all people not just the ones who happen to have certain chromosomes aligned in a certain pattern.
When President Obama was elected, I heard a chorus of people who were convinced that the end times were coming.When President Trump was elected, I heard a similar chorus just from different corners of the nation. Back then I urged calm and suggested that Obama be given a chance before we threw in the towel. Difficult as it is for me to think that Trump will be half the president Obama was, I still am of a frame of mind to urge calm and suggest that he be given a chance. Many people posed the post-election question, “What do I tell my children?” I asked myself that same question. I think at this point the best answer I can provide is that this is how the system works. Every four years we vote and someone wins. Our job, as citizens, as humans, is to work to create a nation and a world that is healthy for all people. When we vote, we vote for the person we think will do the proper job in bringing about that world. The winner may not always be the person we think it should be, but that simply means that we have to work harder at creating that nation. Growing pains notwithstanding, we are creating that nation.
I’m a person who uses humor to get through tough times. Unfortunately, over the last day or so, I’ve struggled to find the humor. I haven’t laughed because there wasn’t anything to laugh about. This will change. I will again find the laughter. I don’t know where it will come from, but I will find it. And, I will use it to help build a better world for me, for my kids, for you, for your family, for everyone.