In my last post, I made the case that we all bear responsibility for Trump. The natural corollary is that we all bear responsibility for fixing this.
Since that post on March 5, I believe things have gotten worse, culminating in a man punching a protester in the face as he was leaving a rally. Oh, and the police threw the victim on the ground. Oh, and the puncher said next time he’ll do worse. Oh, and Trump yesterday said that he might pay the punchers legal fees, which is making good on a campaign promise. The protester, he said, “was sticking a certain finger up in the air. And that is a terrible thing to do in front of somebody that frankly wants to see America made great again.”
I don’t need to recite the litany of violence coming from this man’s mouth, or from the mouths of his supporters. Thanks to the ubiquity of cell phones, the evidence is everywhere.
My question today is: What is the best way to respond?
If, as Albert Einstein wrote in 1953, “the world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it,” what are we to do?
The rubber hit the road for me this weekend when Trump visited my fair city. A big protest was organized and my teenage daughter asked me to take her. After watching the news and monitoring social media, I have become increasingly convinced that the violence will continue to grow and sooner rather than later, someone is going to be killed.
My answer to my daughter was one syllable – no.
The rally in our town ended up being without violence but people I know who went could feel the heat.
But the question I’m left with – does taking a stand necessarily involve responding in a confrontational way? I don’t mean to knock the protesters, the vast majority of whom are committed to peace, but simply showing up there can be seen as confrontational.
Or was MLK right when he said that only love can drive out hatred?
Talk among my friends now seems to follow the same lines these days when we talk about our nation. Some level of hatred has been unleashed – this toothpaste is not going back in the tube.
I continue to believe that Trump will not be elected. I have questioned whether I am operating from a warped perspective. I know the media stands to benefit from a 24/7 circus and in absolute numbers, Trump supporters are a sliver.
But it only takes one or two angry folks to really mess things up.
After Trump is gone, where will all that anger go?
I wonder if we have arrived at some tipping point, where we finally realize what we have lost in this country — a sense of common good — and start to walk it back from the cliff?
I think we each need to carefully consider — what is my role?