If the sense of loss, powerlessness, and moral debasement that I feel on this dreary day after is anything close to what some of the 47.5% pro-Trump Americans felt in the days before, I just might understand.
And how I have struggled to understand. I have struggled to understand how a country - my country - could turn away from its core ideals and turn back towards its most painful and divisive history. How could so many people (albeit, not the majority) embrace a nasty, cruel, pessimistic version of themselves, the country, and the world?
History isn’t linear. But, oh, how the timelines we drew in history class led us to believe that the march of progress was inevitable.
What’s so unbelievably disconcerting is not simply that progress may have stalled, but that the very definition of progress has been so deeply contested. The fact that so many white men and women could either overlook, or actively promulgate, sexism, racism, and elements of fascism in favor of a (false) economic populism redraws our relational bonds.
And without relationships, how can we have a functioning society?
What does it say that none of my close friends or family are Trump supporters? What does it say that I haven’t had the stomach to engage with acquaintances who identify with Trump? What does it say that I have been unable to muster up much empathy for the Americans who have felt so throughly displaced by technology, by globalization, by changing demographics?
Empathy is supposed to be my bread and butter. Indeed, InWithForward’s work is predicated on spending time with people on the margins and enabling people in power to listen & connect to their lived experiences.
Listening and connecting has been in such short supply. It’s damn hard to listen or connect when you feel existentially threatened.
But, here we are, living with the realities of that existential threat and I’m not sure there is much more to do than listen and connect.
Is it possible to re-build relational bonds? Is it possible to meet as humans - not as women, men, rural folks, city folks, educated, uneducated, rich, poor, black, white, hispanic, asian, muslim, jewish, christian?
Let’s still hope.