Keeping Our Values

So, I’ve been struggling a lot with the election results. Yes, I know people who voted and supported the president-elect. Yes, I know people who were so disillusioned by Bernie Sanders’ loss of the Democratic primary that they chose not to vote… But I don’t think that most of us saw this coming, and I have to say, I am surprised at how quickly the media has been to rationalize the results with what is the current paradigm of how they understand things to work.

So, I’ll say, first and foremost, do I believe the election results? I would qualify my answer with a probability bracket, but I would, at this moment in time, say ‘probably not’. That said, the election is done, and not running over the fact that 8 years may be undone, and that a very qualified candidate did not win, and that this election could have been a historic first step for women, and that irreversible damage could be done to the environment if not the world by the current choice, the interesting challenge is to accept the result as it is presented and work within the paradigm that has been presented to us.

We have had 8 wonderful years of having a president who listened to the little guy, who cared about the environment, who made sure that health care was a right in this country, who made sure that minority groups were given the same rights as others. These social values of inclusiveness were nurtured, and like a man holding a very new baby in his large hands, he watched us grow and develop good values. He watched us learn how to stand up for the indiscretions that were sometimes articulated between people that hurt, he picked us up when we fell, he stayed calm and made good decisions about not wasting American lives in war simply to have “the American way” all over the world. Do I believe that this country turned their back on this, and wants to undo it all? Not in a heartbeat!

So, we’re left with an election result and a lot of values that will not be reinforced by government. I look for G_d in all of this, and the relationship of G_d to government, and the conclusion that I draw, is that G_d is distinct from human government, as good as it can be. Government is like the Tower of Babel that gets destroyed. The challenge that remains for us, is to learn to keep the values that we have developed and our confidence in them when we are confronted with power that does not share these values, and when government presents itself as prepared to do many things that many of us object to.

Here the situation seems not unlike trying to keep Syria together. Ironically, America has been involved overseas in the destabilization of many regimes that were not our own. Now, many of us must accept the challenge and the burden of a regime that seems inclined to fight the will of many. We have to keep the country together, and overthrowing the regime is not the solution. We have to learn to work as many of our ancestors did, Black, Jewish, Native American from a position of disenfranchisement, preserving our values, praying that 50 year walls with foreign governments will not be built by our hands the way the Berlin Wall was. The election results came near the anniversary of Krystallnacht. Given the words of intolerance that have been articulated, many of us fear for our communities – those who are Latino, those who are Black, those who are Muslim, among us, what will happen to them. The Bloomington, IN incident where a bunch of kids yelled at a Black girl “N.. get out of the way.” The swastikas that are appearing. All of these are expressions that are designed to terrorize us by evoking the past the same way that language would unintentionally evoke lynchings in the early days of the Obama government. We have to step back from our historical reality, and pray that the world has evolved.

As I went through a checkout line the other day lamenting the election result, the woman behind the counter said to me “All you can do is pray.” NO. I reject that level of limitation. I can speak. I can write. I can love, even those who voted for the other guy. I can give this my best shot of 4 years working with someone who doesn’t seem to have most of my values. As disappointed as I am that a very qualified woman could not break the glass ceiling, I can do what I can to keep the values that I have developed in the past 8 years alive and keep us all together as one country. In my view, this was payback for interference in other regimes, but we as a country can survive this if we bring it to consciousness, and if we disavow nuclear solutions to problems that can be solved with time and dialogue.

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