Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.


Our staff has grown and our coverage of the climate emergency, COVID-19, and rising authoritarianism has intensified over the last two years. But, our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Donations are down. Traffic to the website from Google and Facebook have inexplicably fallen off a cliff. If we have any chance of meeting our fundraising targets for the year, we need this to be the best #GivingTuesday ever. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Can you make that gift today to help Common Dreams end the year strong?

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

People watch as Hillary Clinton campaigns with Michelle Obama in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Oct. 27, 2016. (Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

America Must Allow Its Heart to Break Before It Can Heal

We must acknowledge within our community the frustrations we all share, and then move forward together.

Simone Campbell


My heart aches for the division and anguish revealed in our November election. The fabric of our society is indeed torn and I wonder, can we find a way back together?

We must seek out a contemplative space of quiet and reflection, where we can let the pain of our people break our hearts further. It is from this broken-hearted place that we can begin to heal and let the new emerge.

As I traveled around the country in advance of the election, I heard stories from so many people. Among them were two white middle-aged men who were avid Trump supporters. They felt that though they had worked hard, they had not prospered the way they expected to. They also saw that their children were having even more difficulty than they were. These men feel betrayed by the “American Dream,” and if you scratch the surface, a bit ashamed that they have not “measured up.” It now seems this shame fueled a blazing anger that is at the heart of Trump’s electoral victory — but the anger is misdirected, and it will become increasingly toxic unless we can find a way to engage in conversation across the political chasm.

This anger and vulnerability is the result of an economy shaped by “trickle-down economics,” which privileges the already wealthy at the expense of those in the middle and at the bottom. These Republican policies betrayed our people. But rather than holding the politicians who passed these policies accountable, or turning their blame to the people who voted these politicians into office, some Americans instead blame the “other” — immigrants, women, people of color, Democrats.

A corollary of trickle-down policy, hyperindividualism, causes people to feel alone and unsupported. As a result, individuals have become frantic (and ferocious) in their efforts to protect their families. This includes hate speech. Many feel betrayed by the economy and react in what they would call “self-defense.” I see this anger prompting the denigration of others who are also vulnerable.

This is not a time for “business as usual.” Everyone has his or her part to play to do something. Our first act, I believe, must be to engage with our communities to touch the pain and anguish of this moment. We need to weep together, but we also need to find the courage to face the deeper truth together: We all share similar frustrations, including those who voted for Mr. Trump. We must seek out a contemplative space of quiet and reflection, where we can let the pain of our people break our hearts further. It is from this broken-hearted place that we can begin to heal and let the new emerge.

I am overwhelmed by the task ahead. I have to confess that Mr. Trump’s denigration of women and his boasts about his predatory practices stirred up my personal experience of sexual assault from years ago. It reminds me that preying on one makes us all vulnerable. But I know from dealing with that prior experience that the only way forward is to bring our truths out into the light. Wrestling with painful realities in our communities is the only way we can reweave the fabric of our society.

May we have the courage to face this moment with attentive listening. May we have the courage to listen to the stories of people around us and strive to understand “the other.” Then maybe we might come to know the deeper truth in the words that Pope Francis said when he spoke before Congress in September 2015:

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, and the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Simone Campbell

Sister Simone Campbell is executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK and leader of “Nuns on the Bus,” a tour featuring a group of nuns drawing attention to the impact Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan would have on the poor.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·

Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·

Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'

"We're at a critical juncture in history," said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. "We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities."

Brett Wilkins ·

Progressive US Lawmakers Mark Black Friday With Calls to Pass the PRO Act

"The right to organize, fight for better working conditions, and fair pay must always be protected."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo