Post Election Thoughts 2016
By Mark Nepo
I have felt compelled to speak since the election of Donald Trump but every time I try, my heart sinks and I don’t know what to say. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, six years after World War II, after the defeat of Hitler and fascism, six years after the Holocaust, in which I had family perish. As a child, I saw unfathomable images of how the Atomic bomb obliterated Hiroshima. In grade school, we practiced hiding under our desks, as if that would keep us from being incinerated. I came of age in the sixties, part of a hopeful generation who questioned the war in Vietnam. I later saw the Berlin wall come down, and witnessed the first African-American president sworn in on the steps of a White House built by slaves. During my lifetime, there has been a slow, steady awakening of community that has upheld America as the land of the free. Through all this, I have grown to understand that, different as we are in what we believe, there is no they. We are they.
Given this paradox inherent in freedom, I have tried to stay true to what I know while listening to the opposite views of others. But the underpinnings of this election fall below politics, below Democrat or Republican. Because half of us have elected a man whose way in the world is built on fear and hate, whose tolerance for difference is tissue paper thin, whose understanding of strength is based on vengeance.
As I witness the level of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and unchannelled anger that is spilling out of us as a nation, I fear that Donald Trump has poked and stirred the darker angels of our nature. Now we are taking our turn, as civilizations before us, in the ever-present challenge to give in to fear or to empower each other to be brave enough to love, brave enough to discover and accept that we are each other.