I listened to an interesting podcast today via Krista Tippett's On Being, in which it is pondered: Is America Possible? Tippett's guest was Vincent Harding who was, among many things, a trained historian, professor, civil rights pioneer, and colleague of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As a teacher, Harding would begin class by having students listen to the song linked above in video, Ella's Song (Ella Baker), by Sweet Honey in the Rock. In his teachings and in the podcast, he posits that "when it comes to a multiracial, multiethnic, multireligious democractic society, we are still a developing nation."
I think it's good to have our eyes opened to that fact and I think that's what happened to many of us Tuesday.
I have been hurt and angry since that day. But really, what do I know about hurt and anger? There is a portion of the population feeling hurt and angry, too, and they did something about it by voting in a candidate they believe will address those hurts and that anger. If, like me, you are dismayed that good people, including friends, neighbors, and family members, could elect a man like Donald Trump, you have to ask yourself, what is it that I am missing? Because in a democracy like ours, their issues are our issues, just as ours are theirs.
I don't have the answers, but I do know one thing and it's that the government is not and never can be the salve that heals our wounds. And looking to a governmental leader and expecting that is a losing proposition. I'm with pokergrump in thinking it would be great if
...federal goverment played such a small role in our personal and national lives that when people we didn't like or trust got elected we could just shrug and get on with other more important things, secure in the knowledge that they couldn't do much damage.
For the people I know who voted for Trump, I know that's something they agree with. I guess, now that he's been elected, the question is whether Trump is a leader who can help bring about such a government. Time will tell.
In the meantime, each of us can do something. It's a cliche but it is a cliche that's true. If you want to see a change, you have to do something about it. Haranguing on Facebook, tweeteling on Twitter, picturing on Instagram just ain't gonna cut it.
Pick one thing and start. Maybe it's your local chapter of the NAACP or the Boys and Girls Club. Maybe it's getting involved in local politics or volunteering at your church. Maybe it's as simple as shutting your mouth, refusing to argue, and simply listening, period, to family members, friends, and even strangers who think, act, and believe differently than you.
Maybe nothing will change. Maybe everything will change! Maybe the only thing that will change is you. But one thing leads to another and ripples can be far-reaching, and, man, aren't we still a young developing nation....
For me, that point was driven home Tuesday. And it's not because I'm a "special snowflake" who didn't get what I wanted. Apparently Clinton (or Johnson) was so horrible a candidate to stomach for a majority of voters that the Donald was an actual, viable, alternative. And I never thought I'd see that in my lifetime.
So, yeah, we are still a developing nation and we still have ground to cover and "we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes."
So. If you believe in freedom, what are you going to do about it?
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
-Naomi Shihab Nye