Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Somewhere in the Darkest Night a Candle Glows

a dark day occurred a few days ago, a day that haunts me just as much as the day my mother died, as much as the day our son announced that his wife had fallen in love with another man and had asked him for a divorce.  i could not bring myself to watch any of the inaugural proceedings on that day, knowing that seeing the spectacle of this man becoming our president would make the day even darker.  i wore a black shirt that day, my version of sack cloth and ashes.  i'm certain millions of others around the world felt much as i did on that terrible day.

now we watch as donald trump and his cohorts began dismantling much of what barack obama accomplished.  one of his first acts was to increase the cost of buying a home for young home buyers who rely on the federal housing administration.  when he went to the headquarters of the cia, ostensibly to repair the damage his insulting tweets had done to morale there, he devoted much of his address to lambasting the media for accurately reporting the size of his inaugural audience when compared to that of president obama's.  here is a man more concerned with the size of many things that relate to himself than he is to the well-being of others.

our conservative-leaning local paper had one of the most offensive political cartoons i've seen in my lifetime in yesterday's paper.  it showed a desperate president obama digging his fingernails into the top of the presidential desk in the oval office as several men tried to drag him away.  here is a man who has been nothing but gracious to the egomaniac who has succeeded him, who spent his last days in office doing what he could to protect the country from the ravages to come and freeing those who deserved clemency, a man who reveres our tradition of a peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next, a man who did his best for eight years against incredible odds.  yet his enemies, even now that he is no longer in office, cannot resist belittling and insulting him.

as president obama said, we will be ok.  we will get through these next four years.  many who are already well off will be even better off at the end of donald trump's first term.  many who are struggling now will have to struggle harder for four years.  we will see that most of the promises to take the side of the great mass of people in our country were empty promises, as the rich-becoming-richer pattern of our economy will accelerate.  the "others," that faceless mass of non-white, non-gender-conforming,  non-evangelical-christian population will be scapegoated as the cause of all that is wrong.  hard working people with brown skins who have come here to better themselves and their families will live in fear, never knowing when the rug will be pulled from under them.

in the face of all this, how do we regard donald trump and his ilk with loving kindness and compassion?  should we regard them in this way?  i keep reminding myself that great suffering must be the cause of their disregard of the needs of so many at the bottom of the economic ladder, the cause of their rejoicing that they now have the power to take away health insurance from so many who could finally secure it through the affordable care act or to enrich themselves and others at the expense of some of our most precious and beautiful public lands or to interfere in difficult decisions women have to make regarding their bodies or to intensify the denial of climate change, the cause of mr. trump's need to have his ego stroked constantly and his fear of accurate reporting that calls facts that are inconvenient to him to the public's attention.

the inability to see the suffering they are causing must be a result of their own great suffering, and we must wish that their suffering may be alleviated.  we must extend our compassion to them in the hope that they will see that we are all in this great struggle of life together.  there are not good guys and bad guys, not black and white and brown, not gay and straight, not muslim and christian and jew and buddhist, only people who deserve to live lives of dignity and respect.  there are only people who need to be cared for and cared about.  there are only people who need meaningful work and adequate wages.

may we honor the accomplishments of the great man who just left office and those of his family.  may we have compassion for the man who succeeded him and for his allies.  may we stand up for what is right in difficult times, fearlessly and with loving kindness.  may we be filled with the hope that everything, as president obama said, will be ok; we will make it through these next four years.  shalom.

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