The Day After

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The Day After

Demonstrators hold signs during an anti-Trump protest in St. Paul, Minn. on Nov. 9. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

Donald Trump’s victory left a lot of us numb and speechless on the day after the election. His rise to the presidency was always inconceivable and yet throughout the 18-month campaign, he defied all logic, polls and scandals and made it to the top.
 
At first I couldn’t figure out what to do with this news, but I was certain I didn’t want to be angry for the next four years. That attitude, in fact, elected Trump and I didn’t want to feed it. Instead, I decided to handle this disaster in a spiritual way. So I spent the day in prayer and consultation with octogenarian nuns who have seen it all and later attended an inter-faith prayer service at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo. Throughout the day I seemed to encounter people who helped me formulate a plan of action for dealing with this unforeseen and potentially destructive next four years. I pass it on to you, the fruit of my prayer and meditation, as a sincere offering of hope and action.
 
·      Regard this time as a special time in our country that calls us to act with love, compassion, peace and joy to all the people we encounter instead of acting rashly out of hatred, violence or disgust.
 
·      Focus on the local community and make it a good place to live for everyone. Take care of others by empathetic listening.
 
·      Support and protect people who are from minority groups, different faiths, the LGBT community, pregnant women, women vulnerable to rape and sexual harassment, international visitors, immigrants, refugees, study abroad students and anyone who may be a target for bullying, ridicule or violence.
 
·      Cry if you must. Be sad if you are sad. But pick yourself up again and be with people. Don’t dwell on negative feelings. Instead, hold another’s pain, fear, anger and disappointment in your hand for a while so they can re-orient themselves to take the necessary time they need to find a level of comfort and solitude that will enable them to deal with their difficulties.
 
·      Pray for those who voted for Trump because they felt disenfranchised and angry. They were hurting but we failed to hear them. They felt alone, betrayed and scared about their future, but we failed to go to them. Sometimes, we even mocked them. Remember that they are our fellow Americans, and some of them are from our families. We need to be there with them and with each other much like we did after the 9/11 attacks.
 
·      Watch less TV news and avoid too much social media. Rely less on polls and pundits—both conservative and liberal. Read more serious magazines and newspapers and watch more thoughtful media that analyze the issues and provide the facts. Then, look at the people around you and see where they are, hear what they say. Look into your own heart and use your own eyes and ears to understand what is going on. Spend more time in solitude because it grounds you, calms you, helps you see more clearly and be more receptive to the needs of others. This is an experiment in “otherness” rather then “me-ness.”
 
A Trump victory was definitely not what I wanted, but now that it is here, let’s regard it an opportunity for us to change ourselves, especially in the absence of genuine leadership from government—which will now include Trump. As Detroit philosopher and activist Grace Lee Boggs said: “We are the leaders we have been waiting for.” Let’s move ourselves in that direction. A Trump victory is an opportunity for us to make our communities good, safe and vital places to live. It is an opportunity for creativity. It is an opportunity to make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others if we can commit ourselves to love, gentleness, peace and joy.
 

Olga Bonfiglio

Olga Bonfiglio is a professor at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and author of Heroes of a Different Stripe: How One Town Responded to the War in Iraq. She has written for several national magazines on the subjects of social justice and religion. Her website is www.OlgaBonfiglio.com. Contact her at olgabonfiglio@yahoo.com.

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