Friday, November 11, 2016

Politics, Pain, and Prayer

I unfriended my uncle on Facebook yesterday. I'm sure that he believes it is because we disagree (to put mildly) on almost every political issue, but I have many family members and friends with whom I disagree politically and it has never come to that. This is not really the appropriate place to get into the reasons we aren't "friends" anymore, but I mention it because trying to express myself to my uncle, whose callous disregard for experiences and feelings that are not his own has often left me frustrated, finally helped me put into words the emotions that I have been struggling with since Tuesday night. Much of the feelings below are excerpted from the last Facebook conversation I will ever have with my uncle.

First, of course, I am disappointed that Hillary didn't win, though I am heartened by the fact that she won the popular vote and won my home state of Illinois and my current home, Virginia. I am confident that her vast experience in law and government would have served this country well.

Along with that disappointment is fear. Many, myself included, are now grappling with a President-Elect whose campaign was built on tearing us down. Donald said, among many other insults that: women are either sex objects or else we are pigs who are bleeding out of our "wherevers;" Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers; Muslims celebrated 9/11 and are all terrorists; the disabled are deserving of mockery; Jews control the "global power structure;" African Americans all live in crime-ridden poverty in the inner cities; and I could go on. I am afraid as a Jew and as a woman. I am afraid not just for myself, but for friends and strangers dealing with bigots, misogynists, and racists - on Twitter and in real life - who feel emboldened by Donald's brand of "political incorrectness," which is really just a way of saying that they can't be bothered to be kind to others. I am afraid for us and for future generations, to whom we have sent the message that civility and truth do not matter. Our presidents have always been deeply flawed men, but they are role models nonetheless, in whom we hope to find some kernel of decency for our children to emulate and aspire to. I fear for a nation of children who might emulate Donald's pride in ignorance and his dismissiveness if not outright hostility to his opponents. He belittles people with whom he disagrees rather than addressing their concerns. He has no regard for the truth, facts, or grammatically-correct sentence structure. He has a huge ego. Sadly, this has gotten him far in life, but I would personally like to achieve success in a better way and I would hope that we expect better of the next generation.

Since I will be stuck with him as our president for the next four years, I have to hope that my fears will prove to be unfounded. But it is on Donald to build the bridges that he burned with women, minorities, and so many other people who are hurt and afraid. Trust and respect must be earned and he has a long way to go before he has earned that from me.

I will leave you with the Prayer for Our Country from Siddur Sim Shalom, the prayer book of Conservative Judaism, which I think we need now more than ever:
Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country, for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights from Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst. 
Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony to banish all hatred and bigotry and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions which are the pride and glory of our country. 
May this land under Your Providence be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom and helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war any more."