Tear down this wall
In just a few days, Trump loses the 2020 election. Let’s hope it’s a landslide, a clear voice of America shouting: “Mr. Donald Trump, tear down this wall.”
I am not talking about the literal wall — the four hundred or so miles of lame fence that (maybe??) stops a few migrants at the border — but the walls we have allowed Trump to erect that divide partners, families, communities and whole nations.
We all need our loved ones; we need healing, reconciliation, a call to decency and true values again. We all need to see remnants where we once saw solid iron division between people who actually need to help one another.
Step One: Realize, that if we didn’t have such severe hatred before, we can indeed, live without it once again.
Before four years ago, we may have mumbled about our racist uncle, or sexist sister, or fanatical friend. We just put up with them, not fully understanding, but not making a big deal about it.
Now the separations are clear. It’s better not to pretend they were never there, but to instead, confront one another with a bridge building love that is simply stronger than a wall of fear.
I am not going to lie. Some people will be upset. Those who see Trump as an anointed servant of God sent to rescue our innocent children from a Satanic cabal of child-raping, infant eating, wealthy, elitists demon-rats (people who believe — somehow — in Q-anon) may not be easily reached. For them, the wall stands. It’s rocky and uneven, but mostly still there.
There is no wall as solid as the ones we create in our less than solid, mushy minds.
Leaving “Us and Them” and confronting just “Us.”
It’s easy to mock the delusional.
But remember that there are more people, many more, who just saw Trump as someone who understood their sense of being left out, being replaced, being threatened with “change.” For these people, for the people with core values of right and wrong who simply lost their way in the morass of lies that served Trump as mastic, I think we can recover their hearts and minds.
More importantly, we must be open to helping them. All the “I told you so’s.” in the world are not going to help build the bridges we now need to construct from the rubble of a broken heart or broken America.
Step two, then, is to embrace and hold on to your power of love.
My greatest fear is that we don’t see our own power. It’s that we don’t see it’s up to us, that Trump was not a cause, but a symptom, of the vulnerable tinder among ourselves that he simply splashed gasoline all over.
Our divides were always real. Should a man or woman head the household? Should a person of color be “entitled” to “privilege?” Should a woman control her own body — or should we speak up for the unborn “person” each pregnancy portends? Should we let migrants into this country? Should we restrict business during an economic downturn — alleviating regulations and restrictions? Should we believe scientists, doctors and experts when, clearly, they don’t know everything? Should we believe there are only two binary genders, and/or one of each sex, or should we expand that to encompass new knowledge? Should we allow democrats, famously less monolithic, and therefore less effective, than republicans, to rule? Should we encourage those who don’t live biblically to push an agenda upon us? And, the biggest question of all seems to be shall we give universal and affordable healthcare to everyone?
To many progressives, the questions themselves seem ridiculous. Of course, we should all be equal and fair. It’s easy to sort, see, say the “obvious.” But, to assume that answer just ignores the issues that conservatives care about, and the feelings they have behind those thoughts.
The easiest, (and yet somehow most difficult) gesture to make is one of kindness toward a former political “enemy.” Know that we and they, have common ground on which to build the bridges that will allow cooperation, innovation, socio-economic rescues, and social weaving of stronger fabrics.
Together as patriots and pals
It is hard to understand one another. It is hard, but it is necessary. Even if we truly can never understand how our family or friends can think, or hold those viewpoints, that they do, we can acknowledge it’s not from an evil intent. We can begin to understand, that all of us, each and every human being, is swayed by our inherent defense mechanisms. There is no such thing as a person without bias, without fear, without some anxiety about “belonging.”
Once you know that you are not perfect, and never will be, you can have more compassion and empathy for others. They don’t think they are “out to get you” They think they are out to “do the right thing.” We are all misled. Trump and his cronies leveraged this in a way that we can see historically has been done thousands of times in history.
The lesson of fascism, authoritarianism, of even just populism, remains forever the same. It is that the lessons of history are seldom learned by looking at history. However, we can learn much by looking into the human heart.
A Family of humankind
Even in our international dependencies, our last four years has fomented mistrust, insecurity, and divided. To fix this requires first and foremost that we unite for one patriotic America. No one can steal the power of the flag from you, although many will try.
The flag is just a symbol, but we can respect that. We decide which values it represents: equality, justice, and liberty for ALL. It’s harder after all, to spray tear gas on justice warriors when they proudly carry symbols of these values.
You also don’t have to think America is perfect to forever wish for better. Blind allegiance, is after all, UN-American. Unquestioning loyalty is for dictators and gullible Nazis, not for proud citizens.
There is also no law that says you can’t love your family, your country, and your planet in a myriad of positive ways and with loving choices. Choose kindness every time, and we will triumph.
When I look at the wall of rage and discontent that Trumpeteers built, I feel anger too. These heavy, clunky bricks of self-righteous feeling were used to construct the walls that divide us. But, brick by brick, razor wire unwrap by unwrap, we can undo the cruel tools set before us to separate us.
By looking at the whole picture, that we will never fully divide or conquer with a “ we versus them”, mentality, we can realize the third step to wall demolition, knowing we who built it, are the very we who can dismantle it. We are one species — among many by the way that we depend upon for life — and we alone (together!) can fix it.
We are alone in the sense that we are just one fragile planet. We are together in the sense that we are the one species that controls all our choices.
I don’t know what 2021 will bring. Probably more fighting and fear — for awhile — but at some point, I think clear heads and full hearts will prevail.
And here, I desperately want to say “Mr. Garbage Trumpck, tear down this wall.” Look. Indeed! I could not resist. But, I genuinely hope the joke does not wound anyone, and that a small smile can instead dawn here, for a new year.
Let a kindness, even just a smile, be the basis of a new foundation. It is a strong foundation upon which we can build bridges instead of walls.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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The wall we never wanted, photo by Christyl Rivers