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Thursday, December 8, 2016

One Month after the Election

"Empathy is the quality of understanding and sharing the feelings of another person. Sympathy, by contrast, is understanding another’s situation, and feeling pity for them—it imposes a distance. Peace in relationships is built on empathy—on solidarity and sharing common understanding about the basics of human experience. This kind of dialogue and connection is just what our nation needs right now."

This is a statement from today's Notre Dame Alumni devotion site for Advent with its emphasis on 28 days of peace making.  I have been sitting on this blog post for two weeks.  I posted it once and then deleted it.  I do not want to offend anyone.  I however do want to record my reflections because thoughts and conversations about this election have been a dominant factor in our lives--in my life--in the last month.  

Jim watched the election returns until about 1 am.  I  adopted his attitude towards the Cubs and Notre Dame games.  I could not watch it and went into the bedroom. I could not read and I could not sleep.  I prayed as it became clear that it was not going to be the Clinton victory that was predicted--84% chance of her winning according to the NYT!  Where did they go wrong?

Eventually we fell asleep dreading the news of the morning.  It was a Trump victory of 290 electoral college votes.  We were stunned.  I was devastated and angry.  I cried. How could half the country vote for a person who had mocked someone with cerebral palsy, laughed at women whom he considered less than beautiful or thin,  made comments that bragged of sexual assualt, was married three times, made his money from casinos and other questionable practices, made racist comments about Mexicans and Muslims and more?  I know, the Republican platform was anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage.  That got 80% of the evangelical Christian vote and all else could be overlooked.  Plus there was all the hatred of Hillary Clinton and what many considered her corruption and lies.

For a few days, I was affirmed and comforted by the  Facebook postings of my "friends" who were also appalled.  It was good to know there were others out there who felt as I did.  Then I began to want to avoid the whole topic.  I could no longer watch the news while I exercised in the morning  or ate dessert at night. The NYT went mostly unread.  Maybe it was the denial phase!

I decided to delete Facebook from my phone so that I would not be exposed to as much chatter about the future.  I did not respond (although Jim did) to the postings of two relatives who shared Franklin Graham's thinking that God showed up in this election to put down "godless atheism"  although it made me quite angry.  I  don't see how anyone can question the faith of  the Obamas, the Bidens, or Hillary Clinton and I don't like the implication that those of us who voted for the Democratic candidates are "godless atheists."  In fact, President-elect Trump has said that he never asks for forgivenss and Marble Collegiate Church which he has attended put out a statement that he is not a member.

I shared three The Twelve blog postings in the last two weeks.  Each one expressed my own despair but also the need for action by those who feel as I do.  A friend from many years ago shared those postings with her set of friends with the words that this was a blog by "thoughtful Christians."  I felt pleased that those who may live in a more secular world could know that there were other Christians than the 80% who voted for Trump.

Our church--a place to pray
One month later, Trump is still sending out defensive tweets but he has backtracked on several campaign statements and that is reassuring.  Now that he is elected, he may alienate those who wanted him to "Lock 'er Up" when it comes to Clinton.  He is not so sure as he was about using torture for our prisoners and the wall he wanted to build may become a fence in places.  He called President Obama a "great guy." not the traitor he had said before.  He may keep aspects of Obamacare.  He will be open to talk about climate change. He has appointed three capable women to important posts--and Betsy DeVos is a Calvin College alumna (as we are) although I hope her ideas do not hurt public education. He has disavowed those who celebrated his victory with "Heil, Trump" slogans.   He has appointed several military men even though he said he knew far more than the generals.  Maybe there will be more changes as  he grows into the office. However he has also appointed an climate change denier to head the EPA and a "alt-right" (white supremicist) as his chief strategist and we still await his secretary of state appointment with concern. 

What am I personally going to do to "make America great?"  How am I going to improve the situation of others in this country who feel left out?  I will continue to give money to causes I have supported--gun control, care for parents who choose not to abort children, and other pro-life organizations.   I will  support our news organizations with my subscriptions because we need to be informed locally and nationally.  I will pray for our leaders more faithfully than I have done in the past.

However, at this time I am finding it difficult to think positively.

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