Donald Trump won the Presidency.
This morning, as I walked the streets of New York City, from the Upper West Side, across the park to Spanish Harlem, I felt a deep compassion welling up in me. All the vastly different faces, young, old, white, black, male, female, some troubled and worry worn, some smiling and care free, they all looked so deeply human to me. My hand always wants to reach out. So, I shake hands. I want to connect. I want to be in conversation. And so I followed that urge, like a tide, I picked up conversations block by block. “Good morning,” (Put some LOVE into it.) “How are you, doing?” (Ask it like you MEAN it.) Each face a symphony of responses, gestures, delicate nuances of questions and answers.
Human beings are made to connect. We are hard-wired to be in community, to share and talk and laugh and grow. We have somehow been convinced it is in our best interest to stay safe and secure, behind double bolted locks or gated communities. That is not safety. That is slow lingering death and the rage of isolation.
Here in America, we are confronting the most basic of all human questions. How do we connect? How do we participate in being human beings? We can’t leave this issue to anybody else any longer. To any other institution or leader. We have to do our own specific personal work in the world.
Because, I can assure you, President Donald Trump will be doing his.
Last night, that thing we were all terrified of happened. And by we, I mean the 58,909,774 folks who voted for Clinton (a majority, in fact). Not only was Trump elected President, Trump’s Republican Party remains in control of the Congress. Soon, Trump will nominate a conservative to the Supreme Court and we’ll have pretty much a 24/7 Conservative Federal government.
Okay. Whew. Glad I got all that said. Cuz, its a mouthful.
But here’s my message to anyone who is feeling lost today. Perhaps there is some clarity to be gained here. Had Hillary won, we might have been tempted to assume she would carry the water for us. That she, locked in battle with endless Congressional committees and anyone with a cable news network, would have somehow been the standard bearer who gave us a pass on getting fully engaged personally, in our own day to day lives.
Instead, we have Donald Trump moving into the White House. I will not repeat the list of Trump’s actions and statements over the course of this campaign. But I will say this:
He makes our path very clear.
We can no longer assign our hopes for change to the Hillary Clinton campaign. We won’t have Barack Obama in the White House to give us comfort in the long years ahead. These people represented an emotional bulwark against the darker side of American culture. Against racism, sexism, bigotry, white nationalism and more. But in some ways, I think they gave us an excuse to look away from what was right before us. Did we use a black president as an excuse to not look the devil in the eye?
“Oh, Barack is working on this.”
“Oh, Hillary’s campaign is the way to fix this.”
Now its on us. There will be no one in the White House to comfort our consciences any more.
I woke up this morning realizing exactly what a Trump Presidency means to me. What it means I must do. This is the clarity he provided me:
My mission will be to help others make safe spaces for our children to grow strong in. Spaces created, home by home, block by block, city by city, for kids who are immigrants, people of color, gay, gender fluid, different and wonderful in any of the thousands of ways human beings are wonderful.
We have to shelter our children from the storm. Then we have to teach them to be emotionally empowered, expressive, thoughtful, loving, open minded human beings. We must grow their sense of self, by letting them speak and be heard, letting them do the trial and error work of growing their emotional literacy, letting them explore the full range of their humaness, protected from the bullying and abuse that Trump’s world view would heap on them.
What exactly are my wife, Dr. Saliha Bava, and I are doing? We are working on the Forever Book. A powerful little book full of suprising and playful ways to grow children’s emotional literacy. I hope you will read it one day soon. We are producing a series of videos on the challenges of our culture of male emotional toughness. The culture that bullies boys into supressing their emotions, contributing to our national epidemic of isolation. You can follow our work at RemakingManhood.com. Connect with us. C’mon over.
Or create your own thing and we’ll come there.
As Americans, we are all now confronted with a choice. We can turn our backs on each other in disgust. We can take on the story that America is a bigoted, angry, lost nation. Or, we can turn and face each other and connect. We can go forward with renewed passion and purpose.
We are collectively floundering in stormy waters, for lack of the very boat we can create with one word: “Hello.”
So, if I may be so forward: “Hello”.
What is your passion? Your deeply human mission? Right now? TODAY? Follow it.
This is central to what we do every day at the Good Men Project. We give birth to new ideas and new missions for thousands of writers and community members. So, get bold and get proud. Connect. Share your ideas with all of us. If what Saliha and I are talking about resonates for you, come join us at Remaking Manhood. Or find your passion somewhere here on the site. Or in the streets. Or the schools. But whatever your personal mission is, the time for timidity and self-consciousness is past.
Because this being human thing? Trump or no Trump, this is on you and me. And it always has been.
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Photo by: Bob