Acknowledgment: Yes, this entry is longer than usual, but we aren’t living in “usual” times. I feel this matter is too important for forced brevity, so I humbly request your indulgence.
I think we can all agree: this country just came through an incredibly divisive campaign. (Well, I say that. But in reality, it seems we can argue about everything these days!) When all was said and done, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.
Admittedly, I’m stunned—baffled that folks believed the lies about Hillary being a corrupt politician, then elected a corrupt businessman who lies. I cannot understand how rumor held greater weight than facts. Skill, experience, temperament and poise were less important than arrogance, hyperbole and bluster. I'm ashamed those who also claim to share my faith voted for a man whose life is the antithesis of the One we're called to follow and emulate.
I’m angry, confused and disillusioned. And I’m terrified.
I truly believe Donald Trump is dangerous. That’s not political nor partisan. It’s based on his campaign—what he said, what he promised, what he promoted, and those he’s choosing to surround him.
Since the election, and especially as we head into the Inauguration, I’ve participated in dialogues (and a few debates), and listened in on scores of conversations. The writer in me has paid attention to the pronouns being used in these discussions:
Your candidate lost...
He’s our president...
You need to give him a chance...
We must work together...
I am an American. I see myself as a patriot, without being a nationalist.
I value the diversity of this country. Our country!
I’m willing to work together with those who share that commitment, regardless of Party affiliation.
And therein lies my conflict.
Donald Trump campaigned to Make America Great Again, but his vision...his pronouns...are less about “us” and more about targeting “them.”
He capitalized on our divisions. Rather than providing actual solutions, he exacerbated them, encouraged them...even celebrated them. His tone was more about making America hate, and the target was other Americans—Muslim, women, blacks, Mexican, etc.
He brags about the size of his hands, which is obviously no indication of the size of his...heart!
In grammar, when a pronoun is the subject of a sentence, it’s coupled with a verb, showing action—what the subject is doing. (e.g., He is going to the store. She is throwing the ball.)
Since November, I’ve also had many internal discussions, listening in and struggling with personal pronouns—I, me, my.
Initially, it was dealing with my reactions.
Now, it’s deciding my responsibility.
I’ve also sought to couple these pronoun with practical, productive activities I can implement.
My pronouns => My actions.
I can’t speak in the pronoun of others (he, she, you), nor can I dictate those actions—what he, she or you should do.
But I can, will and must do something!
So far, it’s coalesced into (at least) these THREE definitive decisions:
1. My support.
I intend to champion groups and individuals working for justice, equality and freedom of all Americans, and standing in the gap for folks who’ll be disenfranchised under the Trump administration. (e.g., the poor, the homeless, unemployed and under-employed, the hungry, women, those outside the Christian faith and LGBTQ people.)
I’ve long had a giving policy: any group or organization (including churches and their affiliate denominations) that doesn’t fully include me will not get my money. That practice will be continued, with greater vigilance. My giving will be laser-focused and strategic.
I recently renewed my membership in the ACLU, because civil rights and freedoms are at risk.
I gave to the Southern Poverty Law Center, supporting their long history of confronting hate and bigotry in our country, while working for justice for the oppressed.
I contributed to a local church’s annual program to provide a basket with the ingredients for an entire Thanksgiving dinner to those in need. I've set up for monthly support to the church's benevolence programs. I also donated to a food bank in lieu of a Christmas gift for one of my relatives.
Obviously, I can’t give financially to all the worthwhile groups. (Gates isn’t the last name of this Bill!) So I’ll also look for other ways I can assist, including volunteering and highlight/promoting their work. My time, my energy, my talents.
2. My voice.
It might not be loud, but I will not be silent.
- As an American, I will oppose abuses of power against other Americans, including misogyny, bigotry, the exploitation of the vulnerable, the culture of violence that refuses to confront our gun problem, inequality and discrimination.
- This President and his administration are committed to rolling back the rights and equality of the LGBT community. Prior to this year’s election, the GOP adopted the most virulent anti-LGBT platform in history. Donald Trump’s cabinet appointments have a history of anti-LGBT statements. The new Vice President supports Conversion Therapy as a “cure” for homosexuality. Trump has promised to appoint SCOTUS justices who will reverse Marriage Equality. (My marriage!) Congress is already moving to make it legal for businesses to discriminate against me and other LGBTQ people by refusing service.
As a gay man, I will stand up for the rights and equality of the LGBTQ community. My rights! This has been my passion for more than 40 years, and now...even after all our advances...it is more necessary than ever.
- As a person of faith, I will pray for our country’s leadership, asking for wisdom, guidance and most of all, compassion. But I don’t see that as the end...or extent...of my religious responsibilities. I will rise from those prayers, unfold my hands and reach out. As a follower of Jesus, my faith calls me to walk in Truth and Integrity, displaying compassion for those He called us to help: the poor, the oppressed, the heartbroken...“the least of these.”
I will value and honor those who don’t share my faith, allowing them the same freedom granted to me in our Bill of Rights. I will oppose any movement to legislate discrimination based on beliefs or adherence to a specific set of beliefs. We don’t have to agree about faith, but no one gets to claim “ownership” of God, to the rejection and exclusion of others.
Because of the powerful (and unholy) union of the right-wing GOP with the extremism of the religious right, I will step up my challenges to the abuses and misrepresentations of those within my own faith—Evangelical Fundamentalism.
- I am a writer. Thought I’m not certain what all it will entail, my conscience compels me to use my craft to confront social injustice. As a student of history and one who lived in the South during the civil rights movement, I’ve seen what happens when power is combined with deception and discrimination.
3. My resolve.
Some have suggested we ignore Trump's pettiness like you would a spoiled child (he is), but I disagree. We cannot...we MUST not... disregard the dangerous rhetoric he speaks, nor the authoritarian narrative being framed around him. (e.g., the GOP chair sending out a Christmas greeting, comparing Trump to Jesus and referring to him as the “new king”)
The way to defeat darkness is to shine light on it!
While he clearly craves the limelight, it’s equally obvious his ego shuns the spotlight of scrutiny.
I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions (e.g., lose weight, save money, etc.) but since the election, I have made some promises in regards to my response to this man:
- The office of President is worthy of respect, but there is nothing about Donald Trump I respect. I anticipate an ongoing struggle separating those two realities; I make no promises about how often I will find that balance. I’ll refrain from petty name-calling or slut-shaming his wife, but will not shy away from pointing out his flaws and his falsehoods.
- His immature, petulant antics make it difficult not to mock and ridicule. It’s imperative to point out: The emperor has no clothes! (And by “no clothes,” I mean he has no plan, no experience, no leadership skills, no restraint, no decorum, no veracity, no respect for this others or this country, and no clue what most Americans need!)
I will scoff at the ludicrous, the self-indulgent, the treacherous, and the dangerous in what he says and does, attempting to expose his agenda and (hopefully) inspire action by others. I will disparage his rhetoric of division, hyper-capitalism and oppression.
- I reject Donald Trump’s overall vision for America. I don’t wish ill for him, but I do hope he fails...because I believe his “plan” will hurt America. Everything he’s said and done—during his campaign and in his transition—has shown me exactly who he is, so I refuse to “give him a chance.” Moreover, I won’t “get over it” to appease his supporters. I won’t acquiesce and “stand with him” for the appearance of pseudo-patriotism, nor will I “get behind him” for the sake unity. The truth is: I am not united with the message that got him elected, nor with those who voted for him. (e.g., White supremacists) I will resist all attempts to legitimize him. (e.g., I will maintain my firm policy of not allowing GOP or Trump promotion on my Facebook page!)
In the past, I've been accused of "intolerance" because I wouldn't give credence to the opinions of those who want to impose discrimination based on fear, speculation, sweeping generalizations, fabrication, "the will of the majority" or religious dogma. I've long been accused of being “too political” or “too liberal” or "too gay" or “too reactionary” or “too...whatever.”
To those folks, I can only say, with genuine sincerity: You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Donald Trump was elected "the" president, but I will not support him, nor his administration.
He's not MY President.
I. Will. Resist!
What do you (that's a pronoun) think?
How can we (another one) work together?