What you’re about to see…
The outcome of the 2016 United States Presidential election is still, to many, a shock. That the sort of figure, the kind of entertainment personality and business trademark that could only have risen to such indelible notoriety in our bizarre, fractured late 20th and early 21st century culture, has come to power seems unfathomable, yet it has happened.
For some, there is genuine outrage. For still others, disappointment. Many are stunned that this is all real, likely wondering if they are dreaming or on some sort of hallucinogen. There are also some members of our society who, under this new administration, have genuine reasons to feel apprehensive or even fearful for their safety.
Because this is less about President number 45, himself, and more about what his appointment to office has unleashed in this culture. As much of a blowhard as he is, as much as he will no doubt do his best to circumvent every rule and regulation he can to get his way, as much as he will almost certainly defy the Constitution, he is still limited in what he can simply make happen at the snap of a finger. More so of a concern is his grossly unqualified cabinet, and the conservative, Republican majority in Congress who are working as hard as possible to turn back social progress now that their party also has the Executive Branch.
But even this is not the worst problem that I see. By installing 45, the Electoral College and all of his supporters have given a huge thumbs up to the appalling rhetoric, xenophobia, hatred, uncouth conduct, misogyny, etc., etc. that characterized the man’s campaign run. Even if he only follows through on a tiny portion of the xenophobic things that he said he would, the people in his camp have given their blessing to his kind of thinking. That doesn’t mean that I think everyone who voted Republican or for Trump is a racist, or stupid, or full of hate, tempting though that may be since so many of his supporters that I interact with like to lump their opposition under one umbrella of generalization. No, I don’t think that. However, the validation of this presidency, on the platform he campaigned on, has given credibility to hatred in the minds of those who truly are bigots. Now, they have all the ammunition they could’ve hoped for.
Speaking in terms that include my extended family and not merely what took place in my own home, as a child I grew up in an environment that taught me to hate. Not explicitly, mind you. My parents never outright said that I should feel this way or that toward a specific group of people. But the way my family reacted to world events and social issues was telling, I could pick up on it even at a very early age. The kinds of things I was forced to hear in church, from other members of my family, from the conservative conspiracy theory family culture I was birthed into: they were ideas that are somehow convinced Christianity in the United States is under persecution, that we are in a holy war with Islam and have some divine duty to stand with the nation of Israel, that everyone who is not white, heterosexual, christian and right wing is somehow subhuman, that the world is going to end anytime now so why have any hope for the future or that things can get any better, that sex is wrong and you should be ashamed of even so much as touching yourself, that war and violence and patriotism and nationalism and money are more important than peace, unity, cooperation, understanding, empathy, the environment, charity, and our future.
I spent most of my teenage years and much of my adult life reprogramming myself to be rid of this kind of thinking, to break free of hate, to accept that our flags and our borders and our ancient books written by men who claim to know the will of a divine entity are not what define us, that these arbitrary boundaries only serve to separate us, to keep us divided and controlled. I believe humans should be allowed to have faith and explore spirituality but without the trappings of dogma and the spurring to hate that which does not believe the same way. Say what you will about this, but I do believe in a future where humans can put aside these inane differences and forge a future of cooperation like that envisioned in works such as Star Trek. I believe in Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.
So suffice to say, I do not stand with the new leadership of this nation. There hasn’t been a President in my lifetime yet who I thought was actually great or who I thought was doing right by not only this country but the world. Although I respect Mr. Obama’s ability to speak and conduct himself well, and for the strides made in social progress in the last 8 years, I feel that he missed many opportunities to unite a fractured culture, to further the advances of science and space exploration, and to end America’s role as the world’s policeman. I have disagreed with every leader and administration we’ve had in my lifetime on many levels.
This one, however, is too much. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. There has to be a point where someone can be simply so awful and full of bile and hatred that you say that this is too far. And now the very kinds of people that I was forced to grow up around are cheering him on, hailing the rise of nationalism, of throwing away the separation of church and state, of xenophobia, of judging everyone who receives an ounce of welfare as some kind of lecherous tick, of white supremacy and men lording themselves over women.
This has put me in conflict with members of my family, with people I used to respect, with people that I still think are good somewhere deep inside but are swept up in their own fears and misguided sense of cultural self-preservation. I hate arguing, I don’t like discord, but if I must be in conflict with those I know in order to make it known that I will not stand by and see the hatred I worked so hard to free myself of rising to prominence in our culture, then so be it.
I choose to leave hate behind. If there is one positive to the absurdity we now live in, is that it is a rallying call for action. The soapbox I am on right now is the easy part. Doesn’t take much to spout off an opinion on the internet. But this is only the first step. People like myself who are disgusted with the current scenario are taking political action, the kind that in the past they may not have been motivated to. I don’t believe that riots and looting are the solution to any of this, but peaceful demonstration, contacting representatives, organizing and rallying together in the spirit of cooperation to defy the campaign of hatred, if that is the positive, if that is the one light cast by the new reality we live in, I will take it.