This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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A letter to the other Trump supporters

Let me just tell you a few things I’m NOT saying. I’m NOT saying that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, sexist, xenophobe, homophobe, or any other kind of phobe/ist (though, many of you are saying you aren’t and just saying it doesn’t make it so). I’m NOT saying that everyone who voted for Trump is a threat to the safety of any American. I’m NOT saying that Hillary was my first choice for president. If you continue reading and you come away believing I’ve said any of that, you are simply wrong and you have not really listened.

That said, there are a few things I want to say that I’m not seeing in the social media conversation. First, I want to validate the fear of my LGBTQ+ friends, parents raising LGBTQ+ kids, minority friends, parents of minorities, and anyone else who feels afraid today. We aren’t afraid of all the Trump supporters. That’s ridiculous. If you aren’t a threat, you don’t need to say it every time someone posts their fear. If you feel the need to show that you aren’t a threat, GREAT. One simple thing you can do to show it is to wear a safety pin. If you don’t know what I’m talking about with the safety pin, here’s some resources from Huffington Post and The New York Daily News.

So what are we afraid of? That tiny percentage of Americans who are simply horrible. We’re afraid of a tiny percentage who think that Donald Trump’s words (and words ARE important) about Muslims, gays, special needs people, women, and immigrants were not just okay, but great. There are Americans who think it’s not just okay to beat up that effeminate middle schooler, but needs to be done. There are Americans who think that those who have less muscular control of their arms or legs should be made fun of. There are Americans who have long wanted to be able to openly call out those with different ethnic backgrounds in their neighborhoods and schools, to harass them until they feel unsafe and leave, to run them off. If my description of these Americans disgusts you, than you might not be one of them. Chances are NONE of you reading this is one of them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Not only do they exist, but they have been empowered, emboldened, and ENDORSED. It may not have been your intention when you voted for him, but it is the result nonetheless.

So all those people who feel fear are absolutely justified in feeling that fear. If you still disagree with me about that one fact, you are probably one of the few still denying that white privilege exists, and frankly, I’m not sure that our discussion can go much further. We’re speaking different languages and since that is such a basic tenet of my beliefs about this country,  I’m hard pressed to find common ground. We can certainly disagree about how much of a problem it is, how to fix it, even how it came about, but surely you can agree that it exists.

There are dozens of reports today, and over the last few days, about why that fear is justified. There are middle schoolers chanting hateful things at ethnic minorities, graffiti with obvious hate messages, people beat up for appearing to belong to the LGBTQ+ community, women harassed on public transportation. Is there an actual increase in these incidents, or is it just being reported on more often? I don’t know, and really it doesn’t matter. It’s happening. The fear IS justified.

I’m not going to hash out the issues that made me choose to vote for Clinton over Trump. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to assume that most of you who voted for Trump made your decision carefully, perhaps prayerfully, and simply chose different legitimate priorities. Clearly we disagree, but Trump has won the election fair and square, so we have to move from there. I consider America’s endorsement of Trump to be a challenge, and I am up to it. I have the beginnings of a plan. Would you like to know what it is? I  bet we can find common ground there.

wp-1478965011446.jpgFirst, I’m going to show all the love I can. On Wednesday morning, when my children were sad and disappointed, I instructed each one of them to dig deep within themselves and find all the extra kindness and love they could muster and show it to everyone they came across. I want us all to double our efforts in that area every single day. If hate and fear have been endorsed and even ONE person feels more comfortable spreading that, than I want to be part of those who will smother that hate everywhere it springs up. The news will cover the hate faster than the love, so we’ll have to patient and steady and back each other up with that love, but I want to be part of that movement. I’ll wear a safety pin every day as an outward sign. I will continue to teach my children that this is the most important thing they can do, and that God demands it of us.

 

Second, I will try to hear the rest of you. You Trump supporters who are angry at the liberal reaction to this election, if you can express your feelings without anger, I want to hear why you chose him. I will try to squash my own confirmation bias and read even-handed pieces from reliable, authoritative, non-biased sources about the issues you find most important. I have several articles in the queue already, and Hillbilly Elegy is already ordered and on its way to me. I will engage in rational discussion with anyone who is willing about which issues should be most important, how they should be handled, and what the consequences might be of those solutions.

Lastly, I will not endorse or be part of protests that involve shouting “Not my president.” I will not threaten to move to Canada. I will not feed the hatred of “the other side.” I will give Trump the respect of the office he was legitimately elected to. I will likely disagree with MANY of the decisions he will make as president, but I will find productive ways to express that. I will maintain my faith in the democratic system, and work harder within it to effect the change I believe in.

 

 

 


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Let’s FIGHT! Well, maybe just argue. Just disagree? Please?

I accepted that NaBloPoMo challenge for BlogHer, right? A post a day for 30 days. I’ve already accepted that I won’t have 1500 words on an important topic expressing my strongly held belief in succinct and eloquent prose every single day. Obviously I’ve posted some pretty random and off-the-cuff stuff since beginning this challenge. But today is Sunday and I was hoping I would come up with something fabulous. Not so much. I was thisclose to heading over to BlogHer or WordPress to look for some generic writing prompt. I may do that, yet, but today I’ve got something I want to spout off about. It isn’t really important, and I’m sure it won’t be eloquent prose, but here’s a strongly held belief of mine. How about some stuff that makes me CRAZY?

First up, folks who use the phrase, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Why can’t we just argue? What’s so bad about disagreeing on some important topic? I don’t mean that we should all just fight and feud all the time, but why can’t we engage in civilized, even heated, disagreements and remain friends? I know it’s human nature to be drawn toward groups of people who agree with our own deeply held personal convictions, but shouldn’t we look to see what other people believe, too? And if I feel my belief strongly, and you feel yours strongly, doesn’t it stand to reason that the discussion might be a little loud, or slightly heated? Name calling and unfair fights are always rude, but what’s wrong with me saying, “Hey, that doesn’t make sense to me and here’s why…” Why does that have to be offensive?

Today I posted a blog of a friend’s sister-in-law on Facebook. (This blog is HYSTERICAL and you should totally read everything the blogger has put up. It’s called Cats with Knives and it’s brilliant.) The post I put on Facebook was this one about the nurse from Maine who was quarantined in New Jersey over the Ebola thing. She perfectly expresses what I’ve been thinking for weeks but have been unable to work myself up to post about. I might have tried to be a wee bit nicer about some of my phrasing, but she nailed it. Nailed it, I say! But here’s the thing, one of my friends on Facebook, Jared, disagreed. And he said so, with a well written and calm explanation of why he disagreed. And then I disagreed with him, and I rattled off a response that maybe wasn’t quite as patient, but still followed all the rules of fair engagement. But then I got to worrying that maybe I’d picked a fight with the guy. I mean, we’re Facebook friends, but really we’re just acquaintances from church with kids about the same age. I don’t want to make Jared mad at me over a disagreement about a nurse multiple states away. It’s not like either he or I have any real say in the immediate formulation of the policies that will affect this issue. So, I posted that I was sorry for phrasing things like it might start a fight, but he responded and said he saw my point but still disagreed, then a few words about why, and I responded to that, and he responded, and we agreed that each had a point but we disagreed and yada yada. Guess what. Still friends. How ’bout that? We never came to some great mutual solution, just a simple acknowledgement that we see the other’s point, but we don’t agree. All of this notable namely because of its novelty. It just doesn’t seem to be the way things usually go down!

argument-clipartSo many folks are afraid to discuss anything, so too often we follow that basic human instinct to stick with those who agree with us and never disagree with anyone publicly. We watch FOXNews or MSNBC and only socialize with viewers of the same extreme. Our views get more and more extreme and we don’t let anyone question them. If we post something on social media indicating our views on some subject, we either post it for a select audience, or if someone disagrees, suddenly it’s a fight and BAM, UNFRIEND! I’ve posted before about my thoughts on unfriending. I have to say that since I wrote this post, my views on that have evolved a bit, not so much on this topic, though. If you unfriend someone for simply disagreeing with you, that’s just sad! Now, unfriending someone for being a big jerk and calling names or generally disagreeing in a rude manner, well, that’s different, but just because you disagree? Not so much.

But what about in real life? It’s worse there, isn’t it? No discussion of politics or religion. Ever. Why? Well, as one husband of a friend once explained to me, because we might disagree and if we disagree someone always goes away angry. WHAT? Someone ALWAYS goes away angry? Well, that’s just what makes me so angry, isn’t it? Just because I believe deeply in a God who created me and everything I see and he believes that I’m a soft-headed fool for accepting such nonsense doesn’t mean one or both of us MUST go away angry. We could, for instance, be respectful of the other’s position and only try to explain our own without denigrating the position of the other. Just a thought, but maybe I won’t tell him that he’s going to burn in hell, and he could maybe not say that my faith is pure foolishness. I’ve had this discussion with people. I KNOW it’s possible. If I don’t assume that the only outcome acceptable is his complete conversion to Christianity and he doesn’t assume that he’s failed to make his case if I don’t denounce the God I’ve worshiped all my life, than we might actually learn something about the other person. But he won’t have that conversation, and that makes me sad.

I’m thankful for a handful of really wonderful friends who are willing to disagree with me. In fact, I consider it a minimum qualification for being more than an acquaintance. If you can’t tell me you think I’m wrong, listen to why I think you’re wrong, and still want to have coffee with me next week, than maybe we really shouldn’t be more than acquaintances. Maybe we can’t be. I mean, if you really get to know someone, you’re going to disagree about SOMETHING, right? Most likely. The idea isn’t to agree on all things. The idea is to be respectful of the person you disagree with. Honestly, my Facebook disagreement today moved Jared from acquaintance to friend, in my mind. He apologized for derailing my post, which made me laugh. No, don’t keep quiet, Jared! Please keep talking, at least to folks like me who appreciate a good disagreement. You were thoughtful and respectful and that is so refreshing.

As for all you fine folks who agree with me on stuff, well, obviously I love you, too. I mean, you guys are brilliant. We’ve found stuff to fight about, haven’t we? Well, I’m sure we will. Except you, Mike Neason. We’ve got a good run going, 25 years of no disagreements. Wouldn’t want to ruin that.