Saturday, November 12, 2016

My Aching Heart

A Dark Time

This is not the first time the fabric of my family has been ruptured by politics. The American revolution pitted a 7th great uncle against his own great nephew. The uncle fought on the side of the Patriots, his great nephew joined a British regiment in Canada. Mid-way through the strife, the nephew's family was driven from their New York home, their property was seized, and they fled, wife and several small children, to Canada to join the Loyalists.

During the Civil War some of my ancestors fought for the North. General James Longstreet, a third cousin 5x removed, fought for the South. I remember reading of families torn apart in that war by allegiances and wondered how that could be. Wasn't the love between family members strong enough to overcome different political viewpoints? I was sure my own would be.

I grew up with a Republican father and a mother active in the Democratic party. I registered as an Independent as soon as I was old enough to vote. In the 60s and 70s I was for desegregation and against the Vietnam War. (My father and I simply could not see eye to eye on my pacifist vs his militaristic viewpoint and had to agree to not talk politics with one another if we were going to continue to talk with one another at all.) Familial love won out; we refused to argue over presidents and policies and were able to love one another despite our differences.

Come Wednesday morning, November 9, 2016, however, I had to face the fact that maybe love alone isn't enough to maintain a relationship. It isn't that the love is extinguished, not if it's the kind that ties heart to heart despite differences. That love may be sorely tested, as was mine and my father's. But respect, an integral part of any relationship, and acceptance, essential for any lasting connection, can be overridden by disbelief and an inability to comprehend the justifications of another.

So I wake every morning now with a stomach ache and a feeling of dread that puzzles me until I am fully awake and remember, oh yeah, Trump has been elected and some of my friends and relatives voted for him. Some of them are Hilary haters, but no matter how they justify their vote, I can't help but wonder, does that mean they approve of Trump's behavior? Of his lying and cheating both in his private and working life (and his evident pride in that), his lack of morals, his verbal attacks on people of color, or those with disabilities, people of the LGBTQ communities, or those whose religion doesn't match his? Do they think his cavalier attitude toward women is acceptable? Or the fact that he brags about the loopholes he used to not pay his taxes? Does the violence that he subtly encourages not bother them? How about his ties to too-big-to-fail banks and moneyed insiders or the people he choses to surround himself with? If they don't necessarily approve, does that mean they are willing to overlook these things? 

I don't know how to reconcile my rejection of everything Trump stands for with their acceptance of it. "What about Hilary?" they ask. "What about her corruption?" I tell them I can repudiate Trump's behavior without approving Clinton's. "I could not, in all good conscience, vote for that woman," they tell me. Where was that good conscience when it came to Trump? 

I don't like the feeling of divide that I sense between us. I hate thinking that I didn't see the latent racism, the hidden bigotry and xenophobia, the intolerance, or that if I did, I excused it with an oh-everyone-is-entitled-to-their own-opinion insouciance. I'm sorry I didn't ask more questions or listen more intently. It breaks my heart to see friends and family pitted against each other. I hope, but I'm not positive, that love will triumph.



Out on the prairie said...

United we stand and hopefully we flow toward good. I think there will be some change, but usually the next guy follows up on former policies.It was a bumpy election and most disturbing to hear many say they didn't vote, because they didn't care for any candidates.

Pauline said...

OOTP: It's a fractious time for sure.

Tabor said...

These are big differences. Not just conservative versus liberal approaches to how we spend out budget and how we tax our citizens. Those are honest arguments. This is about ethics, morality and our hearts. That will break a relationship if there is no middle ground and with some of this issues it is pretty much black and white.

Wisewebwoman said...

I do d that these differences are gigantic. I have enormoys difficulty overlooking the condoning of such contemptible behaviour and actions.
Good luck with it all. I gear your distress.

Pauline said...

Tabor, how aptly you have summed it up - these issues are exactly about our ethics, morality, and hearts. I am having a very hard time being accepting of the voters as separate from their votes. Though I want to find middle ground on this, I find myself struggling to see one.

WWW - I'm not sure how this will all play out. I can no longer stay silent. but I must choses my words wisely.

etcetera said...

This was beautifully written, Momma. And you and I share the same thoughts and fears on this. I simply cannot stand united with those who voted for, and by doing so, condoned hate on multiple levels. I remain steadfastly optimistic, though, that love will prevail!

Molly Bon said...

My fingers and toes are crossed in that hope too. I wish that everyone would act with dignity and restraint, not more crudeness and violence, as we try to adjust to these new circumstances.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

And the rest of the world just looks on and scratches its head in confusion.

Stella Jones said...

I've just written my take on the election Pauline. Then I read yours and find we are in agreement. I could not believe my ears on Tuesday morning, lying here in bed in England, expecting a win for Hillary.
When we had our referendum back in June as to whether or not to leave the E.U. my sons were in disagreement with me and their dad and their step-dad. The same thing is happening over there, isn't it.

Pauline said...

Etc. (Cassie) - we will stand together but I hate standing against those I love. I hope we are all on the same page despite those votes.

Molly - I've dropped off Facebook for a while in an attempt to sort through what I believe is fact and what's just hate and invective. I have joined the ACLU and a couple of other organizations so I can help stem the tide of racism and bigotry.

JCN - A good many of us here are confused, too!

Stella - I looked for but could not find your piece on the election. But yes, it seems we are experiencing similar events. Suddenly it's become a scarier world.

Friko said...

It’s a dreadful outcome, for the whole world. In many ways. Somehow the respect America has earned in the past has taken a great knock. One of the worst outcomes will be that Trump disciples do not believe that we are destroying our planet. God help us all, now and in the future.

Pauline said...

I'd feel better, perhaps, if I believed in a god but the future looks bleak indeed, Friko.