"He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. Psalm 146:7-8
Donald Trump has won. This man who has been so overt in his misogyny, who played on the fears of a certain segment of America, and who gave voice to the anger of certain segments of society who have felt judged and condemned by urban elites, who feel that the world is moving too fast for them, and who see their way of life ending.
I'm not going to make excuses for anyone here. Donald Trump will be my president. The power I had I exercised, but I was outvoted by even members of my own extended family,
I am, in this moment, powerless.
My tendency when Donald Trump won was to unfriend every family member and friend who voted for him. I was livid by the time I made it to work. But as they day went on, something shifted in me.
My natural tendencies, my own natural will, was one to circle the wagons and lash out at the enemy, the "others." Anger, fear, frustration, hurt all led for me to behave in a way that would be spiteful, judgmental, and perhaps harmful.
In so many ways, I understand what the Apostle Paul meant when in his letter to the Romans he said that try as he might he wanted to do the right thin, but his own nature had other ideas.
For reasons unrelated to the election, I've been praying and meditating every night for the past week. Some nights I get all but 3 minutes in and other nights I've prayed meditated and journaled for two hours or more.
I refuse to watch the news, but I'm told people are rioting and crying. I do not wish to deny their feelings, but what do we really know about Trump? We know he's racist (so are most of us white people--he's just really blatant about it and actually caused harm to people directly). He says horrible things about people. Guys, come on. We're acting all shocked here. I grew up in Tennessee. Heck, I know gay middle class people in their 20 and 30s here in Baltimore who talk about how "dark" gay bars have become and who make racists jokes and comments about gay black people. But what do we know he will do? We don't know. We fear, but we don't know.
We don't know what is about to happen. What I do know is that slavery is alive and well in the form of mass incarceration. I know that 25% of the world's prison population is in the U.S. and most of them are people of color. I know that rural white America is being ignored. I know that the Left and the Right have been demonizing each other for as long as I can remember. I know that some of my liberal friends refer to poor white people as "white trash" "stupid" etc.
There is a hefty amount of anxiety and anger out there. People are wasting precious energy fearing the future. They are focusing on other peoples' and their own past hurts and failures. What went wrong? Who's fault is it? All the trans/homo/islamophobia,, racism, etc... in the past and "now we are going back."
What we cannot do is become paralyzed by our fear and worry.
I don't have the luxury of getting caught up in anger and fear. Anger, fear, drama these are all dangerous for me. I'm so grateful that I've been giving time to be with the God of my understanding this past week. My students need me to be the best teacher I can be, not running around calling the other side names in anger and fear and bruised pride. My Quaker meeting needs me to be centered in God, so that I can work with them to corporately yield to the Light and see what it would have us do. My community needs me to be rested, so that when it is time to act, I have the energy to do so.
My God has only my (and your) hands; he needs me to be open, willing, humble and ready to be faithful.
I have plenty of resentments, hurts, shame and guilt to deal with. How much of it do I project on "the others?" How hypocritical am I going to be if I act or speak out of a place of fear and anger?
I cannot change this outcome. But I can be open, willing and draw on God's power to do the right thing; something that comes from a place of reconciliation, of forgiveness, and of love.
I'm keenly aware that this starts within and with me. I need to get right with myself, and I need to get right with God. I need to walk squarely in the Light.
The people who voted for Trump are children of God just like me. Trump is a child of God just like me. I'm a Quaker; I believe in redemption, in the salvation and transformation of the spirit through the purifying Light of God. I believe in the potential of Good which comes from the God of Love and Justice; but that requires me to rest in the Lord.
I will not get caught up in the name calling, finger pointing and drawing of wagons and circles. I will not build a wall against my neighbor. That will not end money bail in Baltimore City or improve the schools in rural East Tennessee.
I will see what God, who is Love, will have me do. And this starts with me.
I am not God. I cannot change on my own. But God's grace can change my heart. God can give me peace. And through peace, hopefully I can see clearly the way forward. Because my brothers and sisters who are worse off than me aren't going to be helped if I'm stuck.
What can man do to me? I shall fear no evil. For you are God my strength. Spare your creature and save your servants.