Sunday, January 22, 2017

At what cost?

Donald Trump is the President of The United States of America.
I am still having trouble wrapping my head around this reality- as are millions of other people throughout the world based on all available evidence.
I have spent the last several months trying to understand why this came about. I've been trying to figure out what millions of people have experienced that is so far removed from my own experiences that they would feel that this man is the answer to their problems. I don't believe that all of the people who voted for Donald Trump are racist, intolerant, ignorant people. I truly don't. I believe that they made their choice based on their own experiences in life, and that they truly feel that Donald Trump is going to make their lives better. Maybe he is. I hope that he is. I would like nothing more than for him to prove everything I believe about him to be wrong.
I was not able to bring myself to watch his inauguration. Listening to him speak makes me angry and upset. I did not want to hear him. I love my country. I have a great respect for the office he now occupies. The problem is that I have almost no respect at all for the man himself. In my opinion he has done nothing to earn that respect. However, this morning I decided that perhaps if I read his words (or the words that were written for him at least) instead of listening to him speak them, that I might be able to keep a more open mind. So I did. I found the transcript for his inauguration speech and I read it.
When I first started reading I got excited, because it actually made a lot of sense to me. He spoke of taking the government back for the people of this country. He talked about how politicians have corrupted our system of self government and he promised to end the corruption. "GREAT!" I thought. I can get behind that for sure. I agree that things need to change drastically.
He spoke about ending poverty and creating jobs. He spoke about improving our schools. He spoke out against drugs and violence. "YES!" I said to myself. All of these things need to be addressed.
But then things started to go downhill for me. He said "From this day forward a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first- America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body. and I will never, ever let you down. America will start winning again. Winning like never before."
I can understand how this would appeal to a lot of people in this country. People are tired. They are hungry, and worn down, and scared. People are working harder than ever for smaller and smaller personal gains. Parents worry about how they will feed and clothe their children on their small salaries. They see people from other countries coming here to pursue their own versions of "the American Dream" and they worry about the safety of their jobs, and they begin to view these newcomers as their enemies. They see them as a threat to their own survival. They remember the terror of 9/11 and they see people who look similar to the men who committed those horrible crimes against humanity and they worry that one of those people will do something equally heinous. Their fears are very, very real. I can understand these fears.
But here's the thing...what exactly are we trying to "win"?
Are we trying to win at hording the biggest slice of the pie while we watch our neighbors starve? Do we want to win at building technology and consuming resources at the expense of our children and grandchildren? I really am so very unclear as to what contest we are a part of. Living to "win" is how wars are born. Living to win means that someone else has to lose. I don't want to win.
Imagine a world without any borders...a world without limitations. Imagine a world where ALL people are free to dream, and create, and share their boundless potential with everyone else. Imagine a world where resources are shared and nobody goes hungry and everyone has shelter. I realize that these are lofty and idealistic dreams...but aren't they the dreams that we should be striving to achieve?
Donald Trump says he wants to unite, but every move he makes, and every word he speaks are designed to divide us. His words and actions incite fear and distrust. He seeks to win, and doesn't consider at what cost.
I hope I am wrong. I hope that our new President truly does want to make the world we live in a better place for all of us. I will continue to hope for the best, but I will not simply sit quietly by and allow my sense of hope to be enough. None of us can afford to do that. We have to do better.
This is how I am going to start. How will you make your voice heard?