Starting here . . .
At this point, I don’t really care how anyone voted. A new situation is here. Things are happening, positive and negative. The following is what I know, not from the media but from our daughter and a friend of mine. Let’s think about ways to work together to heal the negative . . .
A woman I know has a friend who is a counselor at an elementary school. This counselor had 11 kids come to her office on Thursday alone. Minorities of both genders and girls of all colors. Elementary kids afraid. They are afraid on two levels – first, of what their new president might do down the road and more immediately, afraid of white people who are saying horrible things now. I don’t know the details of what’s being said there, so let me report what I know is happening in our local High School.
Our daughter has friends who are scared. Here’s one example: A girl with one parent from Mexico and from America. She was born in Mexico and lived there for 6 years before her family moved here. Her parents are both citizens now. But being under 18, it sounds like she is a Mexican citizen who has a choice of which citizenship to choose at 18 (or something like that. I don’t know the laws or details of her thinking). You and I know that government-wise there should not be any problem for her, but when she thinks about Trump, his attitude and things she has heard from his mouth for herself, she’s scared. I haven’t talked to her myself but can see how she may be worried that the wave of attitudes against immigrants might get worse and maybe she won’t be allowed to become a full U.S. citizen in a couple of years. I know that should not be the case, but I could fully understand that concern, and I can’t promise her that it couldn’t possibly happen given the energy now moving in our country. She’s also just plain scared in general for her family around the country. I’m encouraging Bri to calm her friends fears, but that’s part of why I am sad and having strong feelings. These fears should not be given reasons to rise, but they have. The fear is here and I understand it. And it’s not just speculative fears like that that are rising. It’s things some white boys in the school are saying right now that are scaring her and others.
In one of our daughter’s classes, there is a group of young men who are careful not to say anything nasty with the teacher around. Here’s what they’ve been saying around other kids more boldly by the day. Before the election it was things like, “F*%# that bitch”, “Beat that c*%# Hillary”, “Get them f%&#ing Muslims out of our country”, “Send them Mexican a$$%#les home.” Now it’s things like “Round ‘em up, we’re gonna send those f*%$@rs back.” They are talking like this around other kids in ways they simply never did before. They are emboldened, their internal process is saying it’s perfectly fine for them to think and act that way and they are, more and more. They are careful not to go too far in front of authority. Behind authority’s back, they are going places that are scaring kids.
It’s not just the minority and immigrant issue. It’s the boldness with which they now talk about women with c*%# and b*&#% language. They didn’t do this in front of my daughter and other kids before, but they’ve been doing it more consistently over the last few months and they are doing it now. It’s not a solution to say “Your daughter should grow a pair" or "Just tell them to stop.” She has done the latter in a couple of cases, and I will try to empower her to be strong. But she is also afraid of pissing some of them off. I would be too if I were her. They talk about their guns regularly. Some of them boast of having guns in their cars. And it’s complex – I know there are reasons why these young men feel this way. A couple of them are very nice to our daughter individually. One offers gum to others daily, and not just his friends. She says that most of them are nice guys most of the time. She knows that a couple of their home situations are very hard. She knows that a couple of them are hurting about things like feeling stupid because they’ve told her they feel stupid when they struggle in class. She totally gets that. I don’t doubt any of this. My daughter and I do not want these young men attacked. We want them to have help where they want and/or need help, and want them to stop choosing to move with a malicious spirit in the ways they are now. We don’t need more attack - we need healing. One of the things needed for healing is safety. If people in general don’t clearly stand against this stuff and make it absolutely clear that intimidating others and bullying are not okay, it will continue and grow, creating more need for healing.
Again, I don’t care how anyone voted right now. I do not want to play the blame and shame game; there’s plenty of blame to go around if we look deep, long and hard enough. None of us want this stuff in our schools or communities. We need to stand against any malicious spirit while treating people with respect. We need to be firm about respect.
While still figuring out specific details, I know the spirit with which I want to move. I am praying my butt off – for help in dealing in positive ways with the anger I am feeling that these things are happening; for courage not to look away and just hope they will go away; for love in my heart for everybody (including those white young men in our daughter’s school – they need love and more good, strong men in their life); for help in not judging or demonizing anybody even as I try to work for good and take stands against things that I must stand against; for strength and for wisdom. Wisdom in how to consistently purify my thoughts so they really are of love (including tough love). Wisdom in how to counsel our daughter. Heart wisdom in how to blog. Street-wisdom in how to stand up to bullying. Street-wisdom in how to stand with those who are afraid for whatever reason (on both sides). We need people digging deep and doing their best to act with malice toward none but firmness in what’s right at the most basic levels of being human. As a white male, I need to be crystal clear in public that I am not okay with white males doing the things I’ve listed above. If enough white adult males are firm and clear about that, it will stop. (Men, you know I am right on this). Sitting on the couch without doing anything will not help.
We went to a candlelight vigil for peace last night. It was beautiful. Not inflammatory at all. We sang “Peace like a River” and “This Little Light of Mine.” We talked with some people with safety pins on and now have safety pins for our clothes. The idea is let people know that they are safe with you. As a white male who often wears a baseball cap, t-shirt and jeans, I’m looking forward to wearing a safety pin. I hope it helps. Please consider wearing a safety pin no matter how you voted (but when you think about it, if you voted for Trump and people know that, wearing a safety pin might make even more of a difference. It could mean a lot to some people around you). None of us want the kids in our schools afraid – of what our president might do in the future or of some people now. That’s not who we are.
I’m committed to the spirit behind what Hillary Clinton said of president-elect Trump: “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.” I agree entirely. Let’s help him let our kids know that they are safe and will be safe by taking steps to calm their fears and stop any tides of bigotry or hatred. None of us want a malicious spirit moving in our schools or communities. This tide can turn, especially if Trump takes significant and consistent steps to turn it. But no matter what he does, it is essential that we do all we can to stop this stuff, or we are all going to be very, very sad.
Thanks for journeying together. More power to you in being about the love that wants to move from deep in your heart. That is my prayer for all of us.
(P.S. There were over 100 people there last night. The feeling was great. Some sadness to be sure, but no animosity toward anybody).
One last comment before the election: In my opinion, the single worst thing a political or religious leader can do is fan flames of malicious hate. Condemning hatred is the biggest log that can lodge in human eyes, blinding us to our shared humanity and mutual heritage as children of God. Once suspicion-casting, malicious hatred gets going in us as a movement of spirit, all hell can break loose. The flame of passion meant to serve life can jump out of the fireplace and burn the house down, leaving everybody wondering "How'd that happen?" History is full of tragic examples.
Firmness in the right is not the same as malicious hatred toward people. Firmness in the right can be pursued without malice, and in fact, when we are feeling God's Love, that's exactly how we want to pursue it. This is one of the most important insights we can reach - it just happens to be of enormous consequence in this election. There are lots of issues and I sympathize with perspectives in both camps, but quite frankly, to me, this issue almost completely overshadows the others. There is a lot of room for debate on things like how to manage immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court and things like that (and I get it - I have strong thoughts and feelings on those things too), but the spirit with which we move is probably the most fundamental issue in life. It sets the stage for everything else. It is what aligns or misaligns us with the Living God and the God-flame in the hearth of our hearts.
Desire and passion are God-given emotions that are key to creativity and life. Passion rooted in love is a beautiful thing and leads to creative, constructive compassion. Misaligned passion is easily abused through fear and quickly abuses, usually without seeing how until after the fact. It burns blind. It burns down.
More power to you in staying true to your God-flame as a way of life. Thanks for journeying together.