Shortly after the announcement that Donald Trump was projected to win Wisconsin was around the time I began to realize that a Trump Presidency was soon to be reality. What felt like the most divisive election in recent American history was coming to an end; enough of America had decided Donald Trump was to be the next Commander-in-chief. Along with the other 2.9 million Americans who voted for another candidate, I too grieved. “This is not America,” many exclaimed. “This is not who we are.” At first, that sounded true. A part of me wanted that to be the case, but the fact of the matter is that it is simply not the whole truth. Something of Donald Trump’s election as the President of the United States of America was pathetically prophetic and glaringly clear; Donald Trump’s brand of nationalism is the shadow side of America.
James Cone in a 2007 interview with Bill Moyers said, “America likes to think of itself as innocent. And we are not.” The America first rhetoric symbolizes a collective prideful unawareness and refusal to be honest with ourselves and the ways we have treated the most vulnerable members of society based on race, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, physical and or mental capability and so on. Until we decide as nation to be honest with ourselves and the ways we have been complicit in inequality and injustice, things will remain the same. The present moment may be an opportunity to find a better way.
What does a better way look like? A better way looks like all of us changing the way we relate to one another and living at a much deeper level of consciousness. Every one of us has a biological need for safety, control, and esteem. Each one of us has adopted healthy and unhealthy ways of meeting those needs to the fruition and detriment of our neighbor and our own wellbeing. Perhaps the better way is not American, but human, and prioritizes the most vulnerable over the privileged and powerful. What if the present moment is an opportunity to no longer abdicate our moral responsibility for one another to our government, but to faithfully look after the wellbeing of each other?
I recognize the work associated with these questions is not light, but I believe it’s worth the time and effort to discern the moment and become the agents of justice, reconciliation and compassion we wish to see.