Change the Conversation. Embrace the Vulnerable.
Warning: Rare personal post
I’m not a political person. My mind doesn’t work that way. I know what I believe in and vote to support that, but if you ask me to explain it to you, my tongue ends up in some strange political knot. There is a political disconnect somewhere between my brain and my mouth.
But I know hate.
During the presidential campaign one of the things that worried me most about Trump was how his actions stirred up the haters. Bigots, racists, oppressors, those who feel they are somehow better than others were feeling empowered by the man’s actions. When the surprise of his win wore off, the dread settled deep in my gut. I knew a lot of things would go wrong with him in office, but my biggest concern was how he empowered mean spirited people.
A president can negate laws and policies meant to protect people. He can put laws and policies in place to further his own agenda and they will have an impact on our lives – but on a higher level. Plus in four years when he’s voted out, the next president can undo everything he did. Our system is a pendulum to protect us – on that higher level – from a president who swings too far to one side or another.
But empowering the bigots and the racists brings it to street level. It plops it right smack dab into our neighborhoods. When he was elected I know I wasn’t the only one who worried about that. So, what happened this weekend was, on the one hand, no surprise. Don’t get me wrong; it’s shocking that we live among a populous that vehemently believes anybody is inferior enough to deserve oppression. Though I truly don’t want to accept there are still so many people with narrow minded, warped, and truly mean thinking – Trump already exposed that during his campaign. So the violence this weekend was just a matter of time.
The thing that worries me is the inflammation. A huge gaping wound was torn open in America this weekend. It’s surrounded by tender, inflamed people who are more likely to become infected and make it worse rather than better. We know our leader is not going to step forward and strongly denounce these actions. So, without proper leadership, we must figure out how to take control ourselves. How do we reject the power given to the haters and create a society of tolerance and acceptance? With more hate and vitriol? No.
Lead by example. Speak up, but instead of shouting, speak with strength and conviction. Why point a finger at people who voted for Trump? That will only put them on the defense. Instead, share a personal experience of how the shift in our culture has impacted you, your family, or friends. Make it real. People react better to stories than to accusations.
We need to change the conversation. We need to protect the vulnerable. Reach out to those in your life who are especially vulnerable; people of color, lgbtq, Jewish, women, (who else, the list seems to grow daily anymore!) Reach out and let them know you love and support them. That you are a safe place for them when they feel threatened. Bullies give up when their target is well protected. As a community, we can warn the haters off.
I’m so sad that we are in this place again. Looking at the images and reading/watching the unabashed hate makes my heart hurt. But at the same time, the fact that we – as humans – continually repeat this repulsive behavior makes me realize that it will always, always be a fight we must wage. Maybe what we learn from our past isn’t not to oppress, but how to oppress the oppressors. It isn’t our leaders who do it. It is the people. It is US. Embrace the vulnerable and stand strong against the haters. Don’t even give our inept leader the time of day. Each time we rise to the bait, we reward his attention monger antics. He doesn’t deserve our anger. Put that energy into the street fight.