Dear Upset American

detail-of-american-flag-11279635008nzanIt has been an unprecedentedly weird week in American politics.

There’s a lot to say about it, but honestly, I’m pretty sure it’s all being said. It’s out there. If you want more, there’s plenty to be had.

What I want to tell you isn’t about polls or data, it isn’t about graphs. It isn’t even about political platforms, strategies, or protests.

What I want to tell you is that we are all still here.

Anything you think you’ve learned about each other since Tuesday was true on Monday.

Anything you think you’ve learned about our country since Tuesday was true on Monday.

Anything you think has changed was true on Monday. There is change to come; I’m not denying it. But as of this moment, there is nothing new. There are no new opinions, no new preferences, nothing new.

What may be new is the clarity of expression, what may be new is the sense of disorientation that comes from not seeing, and in many cases, not having to see what was there all along in our daily lives. What may be new is that permission seems to have been given to act on our worst fears.

There is nothing new here. There IS anger. There is the kind of anger that comes most swiftly from being unheard, ignored, made to feel stupid or irrelevant. There is a desire to fix, to fault, to prepare. There IS fear. There is the kind of fear that can only come from people who have been told time and time again that now they can be treated as equals only to be told to wait a while longer or to step farther back than we imagined possible.

My prayer in all of this, for all Americans, is that we all become as aware as the present moment commands. My prayer for those who have “won” is that their victory produces real progress without very real pain, and that they hear with compassion rather than through anger and vengeance. My prayer for those who have lost is that their grief fuels commitment, action, compassion and the keen desire to not only be heard but to listen. We cannot be surprised by what we have already noted. We cannot work to fix the brokenness we have not seen. We cannot apply a salve to a wound that is undercover.

I will not tell you how to proceed in politics. I will not share with you why my beliefs are right, or why yours are wrong. I will not tell you that any of this is your fault or that you alone are responsible for what is next.

slide1What I will tell you is that there is love out there. There are people out there. There are wounded, hungry people out there who are flooded with disconnection and fear. Can we try to proceed with what we believe we should do and still look for the love? Can we find a way to represent our causes and stand firm in what our sense of justice requires and still see humanity? To me, this is the real test that we face. It is only in passing this test that we will achieve any real justice, any real humanity, any real compassion, and any real social progress that outlasts a term limit. I want to face that struggle. I want to be right about politics, but first I want to be right about love.

4 thoughts on “Dear Upset American

  1. Nice post! I have been wincing at what some of my very liberal friends are saying about listening and empathy and “creating safe space”–they are thinking of the groups who feel frightened of how they’ll be treated in the coming years, which is great, but they are totally oblivious to the FEAR that motivated so many voters this year and to the equal validity of those people’s experiences. The big challenge ahead is to create an America that feels like safe space for EVERYONE, including the white Christians who feel their way of life is threatened; we need to understand why they feel that way before we can help that feeling to change.

    Like

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