Life Lessons, Life Updates

Why I Can’t Be a Protester

Let me get this over up front.  I am terribly disappointed that Trump is our President.  I think he is a horrible person who lacks any sort of skills at important traits for civil service such as compassion, empathy and a basic understanding of our political and legal processes.  So, I am by no means a Trump apologist.  But, I will consider myself a Trump-supporter apologist.  And the two are vastly different to me.  So, although I would love to make a cleverly worded sign and adorn myself in a feminist phrases t-shirt on Saturday, I will instead be standing at a table for the Union at our University, answering questions and providing information about the labor protections provided by the Union.  Let me tell you why…

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I feel like a bad ___________.  Fill in the blank.  Progressive.  Liberal.  Feminist.  It all works.  But, I just can’t bring myself to march in Saturday’s protest.  I have a lot of friends who are marching, both in DC and their localities.  And I totally support them.  I don’t think the protests are wrong or should not happen.  In fact, I am thankful that some do feel compelled to participate.  But, it just isn’t for me.

I remember eight years ago, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, coming across a former student of mine who posted throughout the lead up to the inauguration and for a while afterward that the world as we knew it was ending due to Obama being elected.  I’m sure most of you have read some of those claims over the last eight years (and perhaps wrote them yourselves).  I liked Obama, so her posts struck me as ignorant and hurtful and totally out of step with reality.  Hers were not the only comments like that on my Facebook feed, they were just the most extreme.  It was easy to dismiss her feelings because I didn’t share them, but I remember being shocked that someone could actually feel that strongly negative towards a President-Elect.

Eight years later, I sit on the other side of the fence.  Now, I’m not comparing Obama to Trump.  Lord knows that Obama has about 100 times more class and compassion and empathy in the tip of his pinky finger as Trump.  But, so far today, I’ve read on Facebook friends’ posts that we should support violent protests in Oakland and other places, including breaking glass and setting fires, in the name of resistance, that we should stop supporting Girl Scouts because they have troops marching in the inauguration and are supporting it by saying they have a tradition of marching in the inauguration, that we are entering a post-apocalyptic era, that we should not JUST not watch the inauguration tomorrow but that we should turn on our TV to a channel NOT showing the inauguration to truly bring down the ratings.  The list goes on and on.  Half of the information is based in half-truths.  The other half seems like the rantings of lunatics.  They are just lunatics who happen to agree with me politically.  If Hilary had been elected, I would be seeing many of the same posts, but from those who I disagree with politically.  It just isn’t healthy the way we seem to frame the debate so anyone who disagrees with us is deserving of wrath and ridicule.  It is all focused on us vs. them.  It is divisive, often for the sake of divisiveness, not solutions or true division of belief or ground.  It exhausts me and saddens me and sometimes even angers me.  I feel like I have to constantly be the voice of reason.  I am drawn to find points of compromise or to point out when arguments are flawed.  But, that also makes me sound like an apologist at times.  And it makes me feel like a bad ________________.

Protests are all about fueling those feelings of us vs. them.  They are all about drawing distinctions – those who are protesting, those who support the protests and those who do not support the protests.  But, that is really an oversimplification.  I guarantee you that there will be groups of women at the protests that I will totally agree with on most, if not all, things.  I also guarantee you there will be groups of women at the protests who I totally disagree with on most, if not all, things.  There will be some involved in protests who use the us vs. them feelings as a justification for violent acts against police or store windows or cars.  There will be some involved in the protests who want to claim the moral high ground and display their oppression as a badge of honor, while ignoring their privilege in many other instances.  There will be some involved in the protests who do hold the moral high ground in their day-to-day activities and who change the lives of people daily and recognize their privilege readily.  There will be some involved in the protests who see it as their “chance” to be “political,” as if we don’t have and make those choices daily.  And because I feel like all of that nuance is lost in the format and purpose of a protest, I can’t find it in myself to want to participate.

I guess I am less afraid of looking like a bad _____________ than I am of supporting something or someone I don’t believe in or support.  I definitely don’t support Donald Trump as President, but I don’t think of protests as demonstrating a lack of support for someone, I think of them as showing support for something else.  At this point, I’m not sure what that something else is.  I feel better waiting it out and trying to make my daily choices more compassionate, empathetic and with knowledge and understanding of our political and legal processes.  But, that means I have to be compassionate to Trump supporters as much as I am to Trump haters.  It means I have to be empathetic to those who do not see the world the way I do.  And it means that I have to recognize that as much as I hate it, the political process deemed Trump the winner and he is President.  We shall see what that means over the next four years, but hopefully, our political process will be able to withstand this low point in political decision making.  I think it will.  I am not preparing for a post-apocalyptic world.  I am preparing for some backtracking in civil rights and, ironically enough, protections against government interference and control, but I am also prepared to see our political process work against extremism, as it was designed to do.

I may eat these words.  I may wish that I had marched with the protesters and drew a more solid line between me and the Trump supporters.  But, at this point, I can’t find it in myself to take that stance.  So, Trump supporters, I will be seen as an apologist for you.  I will try to come from a place of compassion and empathy.  But, Trump, I will not be an apologist for you.  You need to change your ways and act more interested in your constituents than yourself.  You are not our CEO who can hire and fire us.  We are not your employees or your “apprentices”.  We are your constituents.  We expect you to figure out how to do your job without using Twitter storms as a agent of threat.  We expect you to deal with other countries as if there is peace on the line.  We expect you to choose individuals who can do the jobs they are chosen to do.  So far, as President Elect, you’ve done a pretty poor job of all of this.  But, now you are the President.  So, step up and act like one.  Please and thank you.

Thankfulness Challenge

365 Days of Thankfulness – Day 6

This will have to be a relatively quick post tonight.  I had the Great Debate tonight (which was pretty Great – if you’d like to see what I do, you can watch the Youtube video here – it starts about 10 minutes in and I am the emcee for the evening).  It went very well I think, but I was exhausted, should have eaten dinner before going and the room was really warm which accentuated my exhaustion and gave me a headache.  But, I felt great about the event, so overall I was pleased with the evening.  Unfortunately, I came home to a sick DD.  She got her flu shot today, so it may be that, I’m not sure.  Her heart rate was only 61 in the pediatrician office today (it has been very low, which is why she ended up in the hospital a while back).  Tonight is was 120 and she was running a fever.  I know that sometimes the flu vaccine can cause a little bit of a reaction, so I gove her some Tylenol, she ate some tummy crackers (Saltines) and went to bed.  I’m hoping it is a reaction and she’ll be good in the morning because we’re supposed to do Nut Sales at Lowe’s for Daisies (Girl Scouts) tomorrow and she has been looking forward to that forever!  We shall see…

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Tonight, my thanks is for something a bit strange, but related to the Great Debate tonight.  One of the women in the debate had lost her husband about eight years ago in a random violent crime incident (he was ambushed because he was a police officer by a young man who thought he was making a political statement and said during trial that he would do it again given the chance).  The woman was a great representative of the pro death penalty side of things, which I don’t agree with as a matter of policy.  But she personalized the issue without being overly emotional.  She pointed out the difficulty of knowing the person who commited the crime was guilty and admitting guilt, but still was forced into a system that required him to go on trial.  I definitely found it to be compelling.

So, tonight, my thanks is for all those police officers who go out and put their lives on the line each and every day.  Because even if there isn’t a random attack on them, there are those who would take an officer’s life without a second thought.  There are those who place officer’s in harms way because of their own personal conflicts.  I know that not every police officer is a “good guy”.  That is obvious from the recent news.  But, most ARE good people trying to do a good job and protect people.  And now they not only have to go out and face those committing crimes, but they also have to face increased scrutiny and distrust and resentment and frustration based on the behavior of others.  That has to make an already difficult job much more difficult.  Much more.

So, thanks to those who do their jobs despite the negativity.  Those who treat others with respect, even when they aren’t being treated in the same way.  Those who truly live up to the words “protect and serve”.  There are so many of them who aren’t making the headlines because they are just doing their job – day in and day out.  A job that requires them to be ready to put their lives on the line for strangers at any time.  I am thankful there are those willing to do that job.  May we find a way to show them the respect they deserve and may we find a way to get rid of those who shouldn’t be in that job to allow those who are meant to be there to do their jobs better.