“Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.”
Paulo Coelho (Brida)
In reflecting on the U. S. Presidential election of 2016, many things are apparent. One is that people are feeling downright oppressed on all sides. The people who are immigrants here, legal and otherwise, feel paranoid and unwelcome, especially if they are Mexican or Muslim. People who are trying to run small businesses feel as though regulations and red-tape tie them in knots, drown them in paperwork, and drain time and money that should be going into their businesses. People of color feel they have a target on their backs, and white people feel they are being edged out. Young people are tired of old ideas, and old people in general, who run the country to suit themselves. Parents are concerned about the dearth of good educational options for their children, and the cost of post-high-school training, whether college or trade school. If this election exposed anything, it is the level of dissatisfaction that almost everyone feels with the status quo. It also brought to the surface the ugliest parts of America—the racism, sexism, homophobia, class consciousness, and fear of the “other” that has been lurking under a thin layer of “political correctness” forever. Donald Trump's campaign ripped the scab off that wound and now it is free bleeding.
Yesterday, in Birmingham, some neighborhoods woke to find Klan leaflets flung across their front yards. “Better join us, Whitey! We're the only ones who can save you!” We haven't seen that in sixty years—in fact, I've never seen it before. All this is very troubling and vexing to the soul. Our inclination is to feel fear, despair and deep disappointment. After we feel this—this kick in the gut, chest-caved-in sensation—we will remember that we have what it takes to get back on our horse and ride. I, in my one lifetime, have seen four major wars, a president murdered in the streets of Dallas, another shot over a celebrity crush, our spiritual leader, Martin, killed for being Godly, people ridden down and beaten on a bridge in Selma, fire hoses and German shepherds unleashed on children, our best hope for future progress, Bobby, murdered, riots and fires burning down inner-city neighborhoods, children shot dead on several campuses, a major Southern city gutted by a hurricane, a million wildfires burning down half of California, and a great financial melt-down that took peoples' livelihoods and their homes. Through all of this and more, Americans have survived. And not only survived, but have risen up, joined hands and propelled themselves forward. We will survive this, too.
No one knows what the future holds, but then, we never did. We will put one foot in front of the other and move forward. This should be a time of inward-looking and thoughtful decision making—both for ourselves and for our country. It is not a time to fly off the handle, and either create chaos, or jump ship. We might ask ourselves some positive questions: How do I want to go forward? What is my vision for the future—for myself, and for America? What can I contribute to seeing that vision become reality? Winter is a good time for such pondering. And spring will be a good time for action.
In the Spirit,