What now?

We watch, experiencing various states of dismay, anger, outrage, overwhelm, and discouragement as the president flagrantly contradicts himself, acts poorly, works to dismantle regulations that protect the downtrodden, the planet, and the children, has cozied up with a hostile foreign power, is cavalier about war, and is stunningly ill-informed about the world.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about lately the broiling anger that I see toward people who voted for Trump.  I completely understand it, but I also think its the worst thing we can do right now.

I truly believe that most Trump supporters love their children, they want bright futures for themselves and their families, they expect drinkable water from their tap, they’d like to catch a fish or see a bird once in a while -- they don’t want all the other species to die.  They hope that their grandchildren will be able to laugh and play and marvel at a magical moonrise, a lush tide pool, or a piece of art that makes them choke up with emotion.  They love their dogs.  They are not evil peoople.  Most Trump supporters have a different understanding than I do of the way the world works, based on the news they read and the biases they’ve been exposed to.  There are also some, the “bucket of deplorables”, who are excited about the racism, misogyny, and bullying represented by this president, but I think those are a minority.  There are deplorables on the left as well, like the woman who wrote a nasty article wishing that John McCain would die.  We can disagree with someone’s politics without wishing them ill.

One of the hardest things for the humans to do is to admit that we’ve been wrong;  that we’ve made a mistake.  I don’t think it’s fruitful to blast the 45 supporters; it’s not getting us anywhere.  In fact, it’s making it harder to begin working together to solve the problems of the world.  They will believe what they believe, and launching facts that they consider “fake news” only deepens
the divide, and makes it harder for Trump supporters to change their mind in a face-saving way.

As we can see all around us, the truth has it’s own life to live.  People can believe whatever they want, but the truth doesn’t particularly care.  We don’t have to believe in climate change, but glaciers are melting.  CO2 is rising at an unprecedented rate, and the implications are dire.  We can think vaccines are harmful, but the measles and smallpox rates suggest otherwise.  And so on. Our beliefs direct how we respond to the world, but not believing in something doesn’t change the facts.  Our country is in a huge crisis, lead a president who has demonstrated again and again that he doesn’t care about anyone but himself, isn’t concerned with the truth, believes he’s above the law, and isn’t very well-informed about world affairs.  He is behaving in a small-minded, vindictive, mean-spirited fashion.  This is new behavior for a president, and terrifying.

 But I think it’s time to stop being angry with Trump supporters.  Think of them like that friend who’s dating an asshole.  Feel genuinely sad for them.  Resist the temptation, when they show up with a black eye, to pounce and say, “I told you so.”  Instead, let’s try to respond with compassion.  “It looks like your eye really hurts.  I’m so sorry.”  It’s going to take acknowledging the pain and disappointment in a generous way to allow people to move on and begin to solve this crisis together.  That woman whose husband has been cheating on her for years?  She doesn’t want to know.  She will ignore until she absolutely can’t anymore, not because she’s an idiot, but because the truth is so painful.   Showing her snapshots of his car in another woman’s driveway, or his body in another woman’s bed will only cause her to be pissed off at you.  That’s what’s happening here.  

Let’s give the Trump supporters the chance to come to their own conclusions without feeling the need to defend themselves.  If we put down our end of the rope, we’ll open that possibility.  And if they do, we can offer genuine condolences.  We’re so sorry your guy turned out to be so disappointing.  I know you expected good things.  I know you dreamed of a bright future for our country, and you didn’t expect this disaster.” 

I can hear the resistance to this idea.  “I’m never going to make nice with the people who put us and the rest of the world in this terrible, dangerous, embarrassing position.”  And, “I’m not okay with racists and mysogynists.  I will continue to speak out against the people who are for that.”  And I get all of that, and I agree.  I’m not asking us to be okay with racism, or to shy away from our deeply held values.  I’m just saying that there is an embarrassed minority out there that needs a face-saving way to get on board with impeachment or whatever else it will take to rescue us from this crazy, terrifying time.  

I think we need to try being the sort of people we want the world to be full of.  We want the world to be compassionate?  Let’s show compassion.  Let’s truly raise the bar.  As hard as it is to acknowledge our own mistakes, it’s almost as hard to resist rubbing someone else’s nose in theirs, but we can do it.  Trump supporters are likely feeling heartbroken and embarrassed now:  their republican party, which used to stand for family values (or at least white heterosexual Christian family values), has become the party of greed and deception.  It used to be the party of law and order, and now it’s the party of violating laws.  It used to be a party of patriots, and now it’s a party of treasonists.  Can you imagine?  We’ll never get anywhere if we lord this situation over them.  Not to mention, it’s good to practice to be loving and generous with people who make mistakes, because isn’t that what we all really need?

But most importantly, we are in a crisis.  This isn’t an intellectual debate about how to make sure everyone who’s sick can see a doctor, or what the best response to our increasingly polluted planet is.  We can't even see that debate from here.  This is about stopping this fraudulent, dangerous, crazy narcissist before he wrecks the whole planet.   We need to work together.  If we want the world to be peaceful, we need to promote peace amongst our neighbors and friends.  If we want compassion, we need to rise above our opinions, and meet people of different view points with courtesy.  If we want to encourage healthy intellectual debate, we need to make it safe for people to change their mind.




Comments

  1. Hear that applause, Bets? That's me, from the other side of the continent. Love and understanding is not just for those who sing from the same page :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jennio! I hope all is well in your world!

      Delete
  2. Well, you are right but in my cold, hard, heart, I am having a hard time taking the high road. I have not said anything ugly to any Trump supporters lately but I will admit that what I think of them is not even printable.
    You have a good soul, Betsy, and I do believe you are right and that what you said is probably true. Your comparison of Trump supporters to abused domestic partners makes sense and I have known enough of those to realize the truth of what you are saying. One of my best friends was the victim of domestic abuse of many kinds and I finally quit trying to convince her to leave the man and began just saying, "If you need me, I'm here," and eventually, she did.
    So. Yes.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I'm having trouble with this as well. But we can only try... xoxoxo

      Delete
  3. Brilliant comparison to the friend dating an asshole. Absolutely brilliant. Bravo!!
    Xoxo
    Barbara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is also difficult for me to live in a country where Benedict Donald is President, but I am impressed with your take on the whole thing.
      How can we help these people who have such an obvious need? Will kindness and compassion be effective. I hope so, because it is probably all that we have left.

      Delete
    2. Yes, it is all we have left. :-( A sorry state of affairs.

      Delete
  4. You are an optimist, for sure. I try, but with this man and his deplorables in the White House, it sure is difficult.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well said! He is not only all the things that you have mentioned, but I have never known an American President to be so ignorant of simple good manners and diplomatic protocol. The man is making a laughing stock of himself, not just there in the US, but all over the world. I don't blame those who voted for him. He said everything they wanted to hear, and they believed him. Trouble is, the damage is done and will continue to be done, but you're never going to be able to make a silk purse out of a pig's ear. Blessings and Peace (We hope)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Yes, such a boor. Embarrassing, in addition to everything else.

      Delete
  6. Waiting for more people to change their mind...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it seems like it's taking forever. . .

      Delete
  7. Are you suggesting that there is another vote?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, we had our election. I'm just hoping that the congress will uphold the laws of the land.

      Delete
  8. I live in Canada, so the Trump administration doesn't impact me quite so much as it does south of the border, but I'm appalled at all the deception and lies that I hear about on the news. And I have yet to read a blogger who actually supports what's going on. Lots of bloggers say they don't like him but I haven't come across any blogging supporters. I wonder why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm. They're probably out there. I hope the fires aren't getting to you!

      Delete
  9. Thanks, Betsy. Good reminder. I'm over here delivering babies and wondering about their collective futures. I truly harbor no hate in my heart for the 'other side'. Mostly I feel sad for all of us. Is this how we end? Is this how the experiment goes 'phippp'? We have been helping this juncture in history to happen. It's a convergence of human behavior at it's most base and we're all responsible. So I'm making some blackberry jam for all my neighbors. As they say, " I'll work for the benefit of all beings, without exception".

    Peace out,

    Beth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, the babies! I hope there's a better world ahead for them. Involving blackberry jam and other sticky goodness. Thanks for catching all those babies!! xo

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Dowdy Church-lady Post

Carry on, my friends.

We shall not be moved