It is so easy to have an Us/Them mentality. Us good. Them Bad. Us smart, Them dumb. Us openminded, Them not. Us arrogant! I’m past 50 now and have obtained a tiny amount of wisdom. Unfortunately, that newfound wisdom doesn’t undo all the stupid, insensitive, arrogant and closed minded things I have done. It doesn’t mean I won’t still do these things, but being aware has made this far less likely.
I attended the “Coffee and Conversation” with my Long Beach rep the other morning. The room was a small, but full, and there were plenty of people standing. We even had the added treat of having a few Trumpsters attend as well. One woman stood up,her hands and voice shaking, to protest the fact we are giving minors poison that will give them cancer. Turns out she’s talking about the Pill and wants to defund Planned Parenthood. I must say we were not very kind, and simply told to her please shut up and/or leave.
I blew it. This woman was waiting outside and stopped people as they passed. I blew it. I should’ve taken that chance to speak with her. I lost the opportunity to listen to her. She was moved to show up at this event, we should respect her resolve, and her opinion, no matter how misguided. She feels this is an important issue and we are wrong to dismiss it this way. This would’ve been an opportunity to understand her side, find the common ground of caring for the next generation, while calmly explaining to her the realities of withholding birth control of any kind to anyone. I’m ashamed of my knee jerk reaction and anger. Now that I am aware of the opportunity, will I take it in the future? I plan to.
We must all learn to control our angry reactions to Trump and his supporters. Avoid dehumanizing the Trumpsters. Once a group becomes ‘less than human’, the chance of violence increases. Trumpsters are not the enemy. Not directly. Sure they may have voted for the egomaniacal wizard in the orange wig, but many are uneducated, mostly unaware, and were misled and lied to. If we shut them down when they show up at rallys and meetings, we will never make any progress. We must include these people in the discussion. We need to help them understand they’ve been lied to.
The American Revolution didn’t start overnight. It came after years of anger and not until the majority of the population felt pinched did the war begin. Armed revolution will come to the US and it won’t take 10 years. If TrumpCare passes the Senate as is (which is unlikely), people will begin to really feel the impact of Trump personally. The GOP will continue to cut these benefits and deny them outright to more and more people. When people are barely surviving or dying because of lack of services like Welfare, Food Stamps, Disability, Medicare, they will stand up. The tighter one is squeezed, the less one has to lose. It’s as simple as that.
We have the chance to ensure that we avoid violence by choosing conversation rather than confrontation. Let’s take it next time. I will.