Grief: Day 1

15 11 2016

grief

What is there to say?

On this morning after Trump’s surprising ascent to the Presidency of the United States of America, my grief has left me with far more tears than words. I hurt; for all the children who have watched the behavior of our new president-elect, and then said to their mothers and fathers, “Why is he so mean?” I hurt for all the women who are left thinking that this election means locker-room talk is acceptable as long as it isn’t actually lived out; and that when it is, we just need to look the other way because, well, misogynistic boys will be misogynistic boys. I hurt for the Muslim man I met at the polls yesterday who was so very excited and grateful for the privilege of having been able to vote for the very first time – no doubt wondering today if he was wrong about America, and if everyone in ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’ is xenophobic. I hurt for my Brown and Black sisters and brothers who are once again being forced to deal with racism ignored, bias disregarded, and bigotry denied. And I hurt for all my LGBTQ friends who still have to deal with leaders who question their right to do nothing more than love whoever they want to love!

But surprisingly, I also hurt for all the people who look like me: white people, evangelical Christians, heterosexual, and more privileged than they realize. And I hurt for these people because it is apparent that they are living their lives with a fear that has clearly become tragically irrational, irresponsible, and all-consuming. It is a fear that has to be an incredible burden to wake up to, every day; and then carry around, week, after week, after week.

You see I think I’m finally beginning to get it! I think I’m beginning to understand what is going on! Volunteering at the polls yesterday, in my ethnically diverse neighborhood, I was struck by the fact that more than more 95% of the people voting didn’t look very much like me. They didn’t dress like me, or talk like me. And the thought that they were making decisions FOR me, for MY country and MY future, could have easily become extremely frightening. It didn’t, for me; but in that moment I realized that it has for countless others. They’re frightened. They see their nation changing before their very eyes, and they don’t understand it. They can’t relate to people who wear head scarves and pray to Allah; to families who speak English with a Spanish accent and who have different traditions than we do; to men who hold the hands of other men and women who have hopes and dreams that are not like the hopes and dreams of women 50 years ago!

Now these fearful people say that this election was all about change. And I agree. But the election of Donald Trump was not about a mere change in leadership, it was about the change in the nature and character of this nation we all love. Trumpers SAY they want changes in the three branches of government: in the White House, in Congress, and on the Supreme Court. But if these people were honest with themselves they would admit to us all that the real change they want involves our country going backwards, rather than forward; it is a change that takes us back to the “good ‘ol days”, which in fact were not really all that good, at least not for everyone. The changes they seek are ones that would take our nation back to the 1950s, when men were men, women knew their place, and anyone not like “us” hid in a closet.

But that is simply not going to happen! You see the change these people seek, is a change intended to stop another change, a greater change, a more blessed and beautiful change. And that change . . . that acknowledges the interdependence that results from our global economy, and that celebrates the larger and greater human family . . . that change is here to stay. And people can resist it, and perhaps even slow it down, but that change is not going anywhere.

The young Pilipino man I at the polls; who with a big smile and contagious excitement asked me if he could have a ‘sample ballot’ because while he couldn’t vote this year, he was watching and learning what he needed to do next year when he would finally be given that privilege – he is my brother. The middle-aged Latino man I met as I was preparing to leave my precinct at the end of the night; who asked if he could stand where I was standing and wait for his wife to join him so they could vote together . . . with whom I spoke awkwardly for a few minutes . . . and who said to me in his broken English “I’m glad I can vote, but I know God is in control!” – he is my friend! Neither of these men is to be feared, and the changes that have paved the way for them to call America home are good changes, that cannot and should not be stopped, or reversed.

So I hurt with those who hurt. And I also get the FEAR of change that is behind Trumpers’ PLEA for change. For this is what we pastors do.

But on this day of national tragedy, as I begin to work through the stages of my grief, and deal with the denial and depression in my soul, I know myself well enough to know that such pastoral concerns will eventually give way to something more painful, something deeper and more unsettling, an anger, that even now, I feel brewing within.

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4 responses

15 11 2016
Kay

Thank you. I have been waking most nights since the election gripped with fear my country, my children and grandchildren (5 girls and 1 handicapped boy). I ask God what I can do and surely, an answer is forthcoming. I pray and wait. I do not plan to become complacent-that is the enemy! . Keep on writing. We miss having you in our lives.

15 11 2016
Bob Melone

Thanks Kay — miss you guys too. Keep the faith . . .

15 11 2016
Marilyn

Thank you, Bob, for voicing what I am feeling. We have fear as well–fear of the unknown–and what the future holds for our families and friends who don’t look and think like the elected one. What we can do is pray for them, continue to speak out, and become involved in social issues that we care about.

16 11 2016
Nancy Quigley

God bless us all.

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