Follow The Discreet Traveler by e-mail!

Friday, November 11, 2016

The end of history

No, it's not. History will judge that a remarkable woman ran a historic campaign for the presidency of the U.S.A., and lost for the most ridiculous of reasons. An appalling lack of knowledge of our history is surely part of the explanation, if there is one. But it’s also revealed in the statement we hear so often, that “we have never been more divided.”
Really? Sticking strictly to the memory of living people, are Americans really more divided than during the Vietnam war? Or the more recent AIDS crisis, when so many members of our community lost their families along with their lives? Remember how many people in those days wanted us dead. Over and over this year we’ve expressed shock that so many Americans hate us, but the real shock is that we ever forgot.
I’ve been reminded by Cindy Rizzo, Brandi Carlile, and others about the Vietnam era and the AIDS era, and how we must respond as we did then. By being the protesters, the opposition, and also by taking care of each other. There is truth in this platitude of conservatives: we can’t leave it up to the government to do the work for us. Now as then, we are the ones who value our lives, and we will fight for them.
But now I’m going to say something you may not be feeling, and that is that I wish our next government’s officials well. Yes, even him. It is not in the interest of America, where I still have family and friends, or the world for the next administration to be a catastrophe. Nothing in the president-elect’s words or actions have yet demonstrated to me that he won’t be terrible; that’s why we worked so hard to prevent this. But now that it’s happened, I hope that he won’t be terrible. If instead I were to wish disaster on the U.S. or the world, I’d be no better than those members of Congress who’ve hamstrung the Supreme Court and wished nothing but failure to the current president. That’s not what anyone who loves his country should do.
The Good Samaritan, Rembrandt van Rijn

If the next president doesn’t already know it (and I suspect he does), he will soon learn that just saying things doesn’t make them happen in real life. Locking up someone who’s not been convicted of any crime, building a wall, or deporting millions of people can’t simply be done unopposed, even by the president of the United States. Anyone who was foolish enough to take him at his most preposterous word will soon be disappointed too.
And it’s not just Trump voters who think something is broken in “the system.” For example, I’m glad that Catherine Cortez Masto will be the next Senator from Nevada, but obscene amounts of money poured into that race because Nate Silver said it would determine whether Democrats or Republicans controlled the Senate. Neither Cortez Masto nor her opponent, Joe Heck, was a monster, and most of those millions of dollars didn’t even come from their state. Is that really the way our democracy should work?
Another U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders, said this: “People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids - all while the very rich become much richer. To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”
Finally, we have to think of what it means to be loyal to our country, and what it means to serve our God or our Higher Power. Many people in this election chose their country over their faith, choosing to view Christianity as a particular culture on earth rather than the kingdom of heaven. We who are citizens of the world, not just of one earthly nation, need to express the highest ideals of our faith, in opposition just as we would if we were privileged to serve in government.
At the end of our lives neither God nor our conscience will demand how many officials we helped to elect. We will have to answer for how we took care of the children, the poor, the planet. And that’s something we can work on every day.