Where do we go from here?

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I can speak only for myself, but I invite anyone like-minded to be part of “we.”

We pull up our big-girl and big-boy pants, we put on our ass-kicking boots, and we stand up for what we have always stood up for, though now we may feel more threatened in doing so. Those of us who are white put ourselves on the line, in danger if necessary and we have the courage, to protect the lives and the rights of people of color. (I can’t speak for those who aren’t white, and too many of them already have to do this every day.) We risk being uncomfortable, being outside our comfort zone, to step up, in whatever way we can, when someone is mistreated or bullied or harassed.

We don’t let friends or relatives or neighbors or coworkers go unchallenged when they repeat lies and bigotry. This is not the time for peace at any cost, for not losing friends over politics. If a “friend” supports policies that endanger those we care about, that person is not a friend. If we have to, we say that we respect the bond of family, but we can no longer appear to support (have contact with, communicate with, etc.) someone who cares so little about others’ welfare.

We donate what we can to the ACLU, because it stands for everyone’s rights, which is the only way anyone is safe.

We smile at and are pleasant and respectful to those in service industries. We nod to people on the street, or say “Good morning,” whatever their race, ethnicity, or gender. We open doors for everyone, and we say “thanks” enthusiastically when they open doors for us. We don’t take out our frustration with company or organizational policies on people who have no control over them. We give what we can, when we can, to help others. We pay attention to the human beings around us, and make their lives better when we can, if only for a moment. In a country that at the moment seems overrun with assholes, we aren’t among them.

This country has survived a Civil War, numerous other wars, the Great Depression, numerous other depressions and recessions, an era of lynchings, protesting students shot by their own government, corruption in high places, presidents who were inept or dishonest or maybe even evil, and more. It will survive this. But some of its people might not, and that’s where we must look.

And we must look to two years from now, when those who voted him in have had a chance to see what Trump has done. We can sign up for campaigns, we can donate if possible, to take back seats in the House and Senate.

There is work to be done.


Divisiveness in the current election?

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It’s something a lot of people are talking about, usually blaming those who think differently than they do.

The fact is that we were already divided, but people who held certain opinions didn’t feel free to express them till a leader came along and showed they can do so with impunity. The things we are learning about our relatives, friends, coworkers, neighbors were true all along, but they were hiding them.

I think it’s important to always remember that the fact that people are publicly following the rules of civil behavior does not necessarily mean that they accept the rules, that they believe as their public behavior might indicate. That they don’t say racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic things in public doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t believe them. They may just be waiting for their chance to safely go public.

It’s discouraging, but appears to be true, that while conditions have improved (with still far to go in most cases!), over the course of my lifetime, for minorities, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, and some others, and while many people have changed their viewpoints–their hearts, their consciences–over time, not everyone has. Some just took their hatred and prejudice into private until a man came along who told them they are right.

2016 Presidential Election

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I know this will not go down well with some, but when did I ever let that stop me? But I ask that if you read this at all, you read it through to the end, and I beg you to THINK about it.

I was an ardent Bernie supporter from the beginning of his campaign. I gave money; we had his sign in our street-facing window. Noam Chomsky has said that Bernie is a New Dealer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btJfkPBLULg), and I agree with that. It’s the political tradition I was raised in.

I disliked some of Bill Clinton’s political actions and viewpoints when he was president, and I disliked Hillary’s support of the same. I have disliked some of President Obama’s political actions and viewpoints during his time as president, and I disliked Hillary’s support of same as secretary of state. I still dislike some of her viewpoints.

But I understand why the DNC has pushed for her so hard, and I am puzzled as to why other Bernie supporters don’t understand. Bernie was a long-time independent who, honestly, joined the Democratic Party just to run in their primaries in his quest for the presidency. It was–let’s not be mealy-mouthed about it–a move of expediency.

That’s OK. Expediency is a big factor in politics. But so is party loyalty, and Hillary had been a faithful party member since she left the Young Republicans in college. Why would the DNC not favor her over a Bernie-come-lately?

Expediency and party loyalty–why be OK with one and condemn the other? Because neither makes the good of the country or of the American public the center of it all? Fair enough, but true of both.

Whether you’re a Hillary-hater or a Bernie-or-buster, just disgusted with the DNC or calling down a plague on all their houses, get off your damn high horse and look at the reality of the possibility of a Trump presidency. Read history. Pay attention to people who have studied deeply–or lived through it–and are warning that this is how it happened in Germany in the 1930s. Pay attention to the cyber-security people who are pretty sure that it was Russia that hacked the DNC (https://www.schneier.com/…/arc…/2016/06/russians_hackin.html), and pay attention to Trump’s ties to Russians (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/…/trump-putin-yes-it-s-really-…).

If you are white, male, straight, cis-gendered, and middle class or above, you may not have much to fear from Trump. But are people “like” you the only ones you care about? And don’t be sure you have nothing to fear. Trump has spoken against or belittled or disparaged women, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, people with disabilities…remember Martin Niemöller’s famous words, and ask yourself, when will they come for me?

“Agitated with pain”

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In conversation with my spouse this weekend, I came up with the word for what I have been feeling.

Distraught: “agitated with doubt or mental conflict or pain” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).

Mainly the pain part.

Nearly fifty years ago, when I was wearing my Another Mother for Peace medallion to work every day, writing my antiwar letters to periodicals, and sending cheerful chatty letters and care packages to the guys I knew who were in Vietnam, I thought that Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon were the worst mainstream presidential candidates I would ever see. Now I can only wish that the Republicans would once again give us someone as decent and intelligent.

In my worst nightmares or my wildest imaginings, I did not foresee, could not have foreseen, that nearly half a century later a mainstream presidential candidate–the frontrunner!–would feel free to publicly make racist remarks about Mexicans, Muslims, African Americans, that he would speak favorably of identity badges for members of a religious group and of torture as a tool. That a physician candidate, a highly educated surgeon, would spout anti-scientific nonsense. That a candidate who is the son of an immigrant who fled a repressive regime would oppose allowing in refugees fleeing oppression and war.

How have we come to this? My younger self, who thought my generation (at least parts of it) would lead us to a better world for everyone, who thought that by the time I was almost 70 the U.S. would be living up to the best ideals of every generation from the founders forward, simply could not have believed that we would come to this. I could not have accepted that we would have learned nothing, nothing, from history.

I remember that somewhere in the intervening years, a friend, in speaking of Nazi Germany, challenged me: “You think it can’t happen here.”

“No,” I said. “Not it can’t, but it won’t. We have seen, we have learned.”

And so I am distraught.

Carrying It with Me

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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