Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How to Respond to the Election?


After the dismaying election season and the heartbreaking election results, my first response was that I needed to start planning to leave the US.  The country is broken in so many ways.  The rage unleashed by Trump against Latinos and Muslims is scary.  As is his contempt of women and the “elite,” meaning educated liberals.  Given the darkness of his campaign, I saw things could easily move in an even more unpleasant direction.  

And incoming reports confirm my fears; just since the election, hate crimes are on the rise, committed by people often invoking his name.  And the FBI just reported that hate crimes were up 6% this past year.

During a morning meditation though I asked myself what a spiritual person should do.  What did spiritual, good people do in other situations where people were persecuted?  And I thought of the people who at great risk hid Jews or helped them escape from the Nazis.  I thought of the Danish citizens who marched with yellow stars on their coats.  I thought of churches here who offer sanctuary to undocumented aliens.  I thought of what Pastor Niemöller said in Nazi Germany, “First they came for the Communists, and I did nothing,  Then they came for the Jews, and I did nothing.  Now they have come for me, and it is too late.”  I knew I had to do something.

At the same time, I was aware that millions of Trump supporters have been suffering terribly for decades as a result of jobs lost overseas and wage stagnation, their middle class world shattered.  That they rightfully felt neglected by the political establishment, and their anger was a reflection of that suffering.  They need help as well.

Each of us, in ways small and large, can act to let those being attacked as well as those who have suffered know that they are not alone.  

As for myself, I realized that this disaster presents a once in a lifetime, perhaps once in history, opportunity for America to get past its internal problems of racism and all forms of bigotry and inequality.  And so I came up with the idea of starting a nonprofit, American Solidarity, which would, in concert with other national organizations, organize mass non-violent rallies across this country for people to stand in solidarity with Latinos, African-Americans, Muslims, LGBT people, and women, as well as the white displaced worker.  To show that you can’t rebuild America physically while leaving its social fabric frayed.  Go to www.americansolidarity.org.  

I purposely am not calling these gatherings “protests” because that’s not the spirit I want to project.  Why?  One has to understand a basic fact regarding Trump: if you criticize him in any way, he will respond with vitriol and disdain.  And so all the ranting protests, regardless how large, will not move him an inch and actually be counter-productive.  He feels victimized by the establishment, by moderates and liberals, and so this type of protest will only feed that perception and strengthen his resolve to go his own way, supported by the alt right.   

Instead, I want these rallies to be dignified statements of solidarity with all those being attacked as well as the millions of blue collar workers who have been suffering terribly.  

What we need is a Gandhi/MLK moment.  This is a time for all 63,000,000 of us who voted for Hillary as well as millions who voted for Trump out of economic despair, not hatred, to come together and say to Trump, “yes, rebuild the country’s infrastructure, create jobs, but be, as you pledged, the president of all Americans.”