So very difficult to know what to say today and how. And yet I know, like it says in the title of a Japanese Zen master’s book: You have to say something. So I will say something, and it’s quite simple:
Today, my outrage and that of millions and millions of other Americans is unfathomable. As is our sadness and despair and anxiety.
The election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States is a tragedy. It’s sickening. It’s beyond belief. It’s a devastating defeat for the enlightened, generous human spirit and a terrifying triumph for racism, misogyny, greed, anger, ignorance…
I am profoundly troubled and fearful about what is to come, for America and for the world. We are leaving behind an intelligent, sophisticated, dignified and inspiring president of great integrity and turning to this revolting, shallow, vain, reckless, lying, know-nothing buffoon of a con man. Part of what makes him so deeply troubling is what David Remnick pointed out in The New Yorker: « Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. »
This dangerous behavior arises from a very basic delusion about self and other. This man and his misguided followers fail to recognize that we each are singular individuals and yet we all are one. Where such ignorance has led in the past – be it Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa, pre-civil rights United States, Stalin’s Russia, Israel and Palestine, to name but a few examples – is a chilling thought.
What also is disturbing is that the vote for Trump seems like a desperate cry for help from people who are feeling left out, abandoned, forgotten, disrespected, disinherited and destroyed by the ruthless market economy and the effects of profit-for-the-few globalization. I hear that cry and the understandable desire for something else. Like in 2008, the vote on Tuesday was for change. Like in 2008, there was a promise of empowerment. In 2008, Barack Obama’s promise was of inclusive change and hope for a better future for everyone together. In 2016, Trump’s promise is of exclusive change for some at the expense of great swaths of the American population.
But to end the suffering wrought by the reign of endless greed in our world today, Trump is not the answer. Only love and unity can overcome the forces of hate, division and discrimination. Faced with what will no doubt be dark days ahead, we will have to keep remembering that, and we will have to tirelessly work at fostering such a world together.
Even amid the tears and fears and outrage, that’s all there is to do now. And the best (and only) place to start is where you are.