In some ways, despite it having happened only five days ago, the election for the next President of the United States feels like forever ago. I think, in some ways, that may be my PTSD coping coming into play – dissociation from it all to deal with the almost non-stop anxiety that started on the day of the election and lasted for the next couple of days.
Since then, there have been so many acts of violence resulting in death and destruction. A lot of the reports are of Trump supporters harassing, threatening, and even killing people whose minority groups were insulted, demeaned, and identified as undesirable residents in our nation. The slogan, “Make America Great Again,” for many people, became code for, “Make America White Again.”
The results of election night seemed to be the eruption of a volcano which had been awakening over the past several years, decades even, as economic hardships, job losses, the battle for marriage equality, the seeming increases of Black Americans losing their lives and their futures to the lethal force actions of the police charged to protect and serve, a protracted war on terror throughout the Middle East, increasing numbers of refugees who share ethnic and genetic backgrounds with the terrorists, soldiers killed and maimed in this war on terror, veteran’s not receiving the care and services promised and needed, an epidemic of homelessness, and the list goes on.
We have long been divided according to the political two-party system of the liberal, leftist, Democrats vs the Republicans of the religious right. This false dichotomy has polarized the people in our country and pitted us against them. The propaganda of it all is quite confusing, until you step back and examine the big picture a little more closely. The professional politicians in the upper echelons of our government, many of whom fall in the category of the 1% and who are often considered to be the puppets of the 1% of the 1%, have done an excellent job of distracting us and pitting us against each other.
I’m reminded of the fall of the Roman Empire, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution. In each case there was some combination of over-involvement in the wars of other countries, major economic shifts where the 98% grew poorer and poorer, while the top levels of leadership became more and more self-serving, making governing decisions to increase their own wealth and power. Each of these events had additional factors, however, these are the largest ones and the ones which most closely resemble what is happening in our country right now.
We have a 1% leader who, throughout his campaign, appealed to four groups of people, the first of which are those most concerned with the loss of their way of life, which isn’t just the loss of middle-class comfort and status, but their very survival. The second group consists of those who are fiscally conservative, believing that a large, bureaucratic government, taxing the working and upper classes in order to provide supportive services to the lower classes, who they often deem to be lazy, unwilling to do what it takes to lift themselves out of poverty, and more likely to “take advantage” of the system, thereby costing them their hard-won earnings and way of life.
The third and fourth groups can be found in the midst of the other two groups. The third group, are known as the Religious Right, the ones who have been trained and taught a doctrine based on a fairly modern interpretation of the Bible, which doesn’t take into account the context and the history, the cultural and religious connections to the original people groups to whom the different books of the Bible were addressed and derived from. This third group treats the Bible, its teaching, and its prophecies as if they are the chosen people and the promises are for the new Holy Land of The United States of America.
I think it’s important to note that this is likely the group which is the most diverse in terms of race, gender, gender identity, sexuality, and religious faith. The reason for this is likely the level of and type of education. This is the group that was most likely to vote for Trump, instead of Hillary, because of that education combined with religious beliefs, despite the obvious words, actions, and history of our President-Elect which flouted any true example of morals and values espoused by themselves.
The final group consists of those who believe that anyone who isn’t “white” is an inferior race and should never be considered equal to themselves or have any advantages that they don’t have. They, too, tend to believe the things of the Religious Right, and see themselves, exclusively, as the Chosen and inheritors of the earth.
On the opposing side, we have the Millennials and the Liberal Left. Both of those groups tend to be highly educated, academically, and their academic education came from Liberal Colleges, not affiliated with religion or religious denomination. They’re the ones most concerned with social and environmental justice. They’re also the ones who want human rights and equality to be a given for all human beings, regardless of “minority” status.
Since the election, one side has been reported to have committed heinous crimes against members of the other side. Of course, the portions of that side who don’t share in the overtly bigoted beliefs of the perpetrators are quick to their own defense and to absolve themselves of any responsibility in those actions. On the flip side, many of the members of the other party, have staged protests, intended to be peaceful, which have erupted into rioting, destruction, and violence. Of course, the more moderate of this group are quick to disavow those actions by the anarchists, the angriest, and the most marginalized.
How are we going to become a unified nation? How are we to work toward reconciliation and reparation when everyone is shouting over each other and worse, in order to establish that they are right and the others are wrong?
The Peace Prayer of St. Francis
by an anonymous Norman c. 1915 A.D. Peace Prayer
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, Joy.
O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
As to console;
To be understood,as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Or, as Steven Covey puts it, in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:
Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood