Recently, a Facebook post has been making the rounds listing some good things that have come out of the Trump administration so far. Things like people getting more involved, people knowing more about Hitler, the Constitution, people different from them, etc., than ever before…Trump’s election proving that “anyone can be president.” I appreciate the attempt here but to me, it feels like meager anesthetization. For one, democracy requires constant, committed work so it’s a little bittersweet for me that people are just now becoming more involved…maybe if they had been all along, we wouldn’t have gotten to this point of utter disaster. Two, I don’t think ignorance of the Holocaust or of the Constitution caused the mess America and consequently the world are in. I think Trump and his appointees are the cause, honestly. And I don’t believe they have no idea what they’re doing. But, the point on this list that worried me the most was that “anyone can be president” was being said as a good thing. Continue reading Anyone Can Be President
There’s a flurry of posts and articles swirling around calling Donald Trump mentally ill, speculating on various disorders he might have or outright diagnosing him: sociopath; narcissist; oppositional defiant disorder. While it’s clear that he’s temperamentally unfit for the presidency, I think we need to be aware of how accusing Trump of being mentally ill is making things much worse for people who are already really vulnerable and who Trump’s administration is only going to make more so: those with so-called ‘mental illness.’ Continue reading Donald Trump May Be Mentally Ill, But It Isn’t Helping to Say So
This day last year, with about an hour of 2015 to go, I was 30,000 feet in the air going through what I can now say was tiny turbulence compared to the last 12 months and was told this would be the hardest year of my life. My only reflection on it is, “It f*ing better be.” I leave this year wondering if anything will work out (personally, nationally or globally) and hoping that I might be able to stop waking up in the middle of the night sobbing. I’m glad I’ve reached the age where a year feels like just several months.
Thankfully, I started learning German this year and they have a perfect word for this: Lebensmüde. Life-tired. From an article on the Book of Life: “We believe ourselves to be firmly attached to life, but a lot of our behaviour attests to something more interesting and troubling; an occasional longing to give up our hold on existence. It is deeply useful to have this word to hand on gloomy days when it feels like nothing will ever work out.”
2016 wasn’t really anyone’s year so instead of wishing you a happy new year, I’m going to say that I hope, for myself as well as you, that this incoming year will reveal and affirm why we’re still here.
We hear about the power of story everywhere. I’ve already mentioned one of my issues with that, but I’ve got a few more. The first is simply that hearing stories about a lucky break – which nearly every writer who’s been invited to speak before other writers and give advice on how to succeed in that isolating, rejection-packed, dehumanizing world has – are not helpful. Sure, there’s definitely jealousy there, but I want to hear stories from people who didn’t get a lucky break, who didn’t get discovered, who didn’t have contacts either at all or who were willing to help them, who found success without the chance encounter or surprise discovery by an editor or recruiter. I can’t replicate someone else’s luck and, since I don’t seem to have much of my own, I need to learn how to succeed in the world without it. Or is that not possible and that’s why there aren’t stories out there like that? (My invitation to share stories of hardship was a serious one.) Continue reading If I Can’t Work, Maybe My Theology Degree Can
There is a time to be peaceful, a time to let go of arguments and agree to disagree. This is not one of those times. Those of us who care about justice, equality and love more than power, vengeance, winning and getting ahead not only have a right to be outraged; we have a duty to be outraged. Those of us who are Christians not only have a right to be disgusted by claims that God appointed Donald Trump, we have a duty to speak out against such unbiblical falsities. It is not only the right of those of us who have been made much more vulnerable by this election, it is entirely appropriate. Continue reading We Don’t Have To Calm Down
“Putin’s team,” Gary Shteyngart writes in a recent New Yorker article, “has discovered that racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism bind people closer than any other experiences.” We have to change this. It feels impossible: “People want to rise from their knees. Even people who weren’t kneeling in the first place,” Schtenygart writes. Can Americans, who have been bathed in rugged individualism since the inception of our country learn how to be there for each other as so many of our writers, activists and empaths are pleading we do so? We simply have to. Shteyngart continues: “My parents and grandparents never fully recovered from the strains of living in an authoritarian society. Daily compromise ground them down, even after they came to America. They left Russia, but Russia never left them. How do you read through a newspaper composed solely of lies? How do you walk into a store while being Jewish? How do you tell the truth to your children? How do you even know what the truth is?”
The only response I have to America’s election results last Tuesday is this. Those who are against everything Trump stands for can show it by looking out for all who this election has just made much more vulnerable. On some level, who that is is obvious; these are people whom Trump has specifically targeted – pretty much everyone but straight, cis, wealthy, white men (which, no, is not “just as sexist and racist” as Trump. If I see only white men doing something, it’s not sexist and racist for me to call out white men; it’s speaking the truth. Also, reverse racism is not a thing and reverse sexism is not a thing. It’s the epitome of privilege to demand that the term sexism or racism be applied equally without fighting for actual equality among all). But, really, if we truly mean it when we say “we have to look out for each other,” we need to start paying attention to those who are silenced, endangered or invisibilized when: Continue reading Vulnerability, A Definition in the Trump Era
Picking up where I left off yesterday, these are scary times, and unprecedented ones in our national life. One presidential candidate has narrowly avoided a major investigation. Another candidate is temperamentally unfit for the office of the Presidency and facing his own serious legal proceedings. Their respective vice presidential candidates are, it could be argued, infinitely more qualified than their running mates in terms of character. The news and media make little mention of the other presidential candidates to be found on the ballot (for all this “get out and vote, get out and vote” pressure, I’ve been shamed for even considering voting third-party) and the public, largely, is either too awareness-fatigued, overwhelmed or unskilled at discerning the universe of information to be trusted to do their own research. Continue reading Defeating Trump and Trumpism is Defeating Fear – It Will Take Sincerity, Part 2
I’m taking a break from my new focus on vulnerability to say a few things about the election. I have a really hard time with people encouraging everyone to “get out and vote” without also encouraging people to become informed before they vote. Personally, I’d rather you not vote if you’re not informed. Not voting doesn’t increase the value of some diehard’s vote as much as voting without knowing what you’re doing does. And it does take time. You can’t really just show up at the ballot box and expect that the little blurb on the bill or person or proposition is going to tell you everything you need to know. It took me four hours to fill out my ballot. Here’s some thoughts on the most stressful choice on the ballot this year:
Just like “the most powerful factor determining a company’s performance is the condition of the marketplace in which it operates,” as Joshua Rothman writes, so, too, is the most telling factor determining a president’s or presidential candidate’s effectiveness and reach of that power is the demography in which they operate. Trump isn’t the problem, he’s the latest, most serious symptom. Just like we need people to somehow stay behind and rebuild not racist walls but a system that actually gives a damn about life and doing it well together (with each other and all non-human life that exists both now and in the future), we need people who are going to say no to self-interested power, to megalomaniacal racism, sexism, ableism, to fear-based governing. Continue reading “I Will Leave This Country If…” Part 2