My heart aches, my soul shivers, and my mind cannot fathom all that has happened this past week during the first days of the Trump Administration. The executive order cutting off visas for citizens from particular countries — all of whom are majority Muslim — and banning refugees from those countries is the order which strikes the most anguish for me.
I am contacting my legislators, I am protesting in the streets — and here I want to make an offer to anyone out there who thinks what Trump is doing is right, but has some doubts. If you want someone to talk with, someone who will not judge you for your fears but wants to be in dialogue, call me.
The big question I want people to pause and think about? Is solidarity a value worth defending? I think it is, and I am going to do all that I can do in the days to come to live into that belief.
I’ve been working on digital storytelling as a form of faith formation for years now (find details at storyingfaith.org), and this week gave the first session of a two-part workshop here in Toronto. A student organization at USMC graciously recorded it and is making it available online. I hope it gives you ideas of ways you could draw on this hope-filled and creative activity!
I am worried about the ways in which people are hyper ventilating over every tidbit of information that comes out of the White House these past few days. Trump at the CIA, Trump’s press secretary, etc. etc. Consider the possibility that Trump may be using — if not strategically, just intuitively — our news media to focus attention in ways that take us away from our core commitments. What may well have been the largest mass demonstration in US history took place on Saturday, and rather than dealing with the substance of that demonstration the tv media, in particular, are all atwitter about Trump’s spokesperson arguing about the size of crowds.
Please, friends, take a moment and pause. Focus on the energy and shared passion for moving forward that the marches evoked. Rather than reading the news all the time (or even, and I would highly recommend NOT doing this, watching the news), set aside a limited amount of time in your day for getting a sense of what is happening the world, and then focus your energy on what you can do.
Aside from bad weather or other such emergencies, there is no real reason to get news immediately. Yet the seductive nature of “getting it first” is driving our news media into terrible practices. We need to turn away from that temptation and turn instead to longer, more thoughtful reflection.
Attending to what matters is crucial, and this administration looks to be pulling our attention to all sorts of other things. We know Trump and his administration will lie. Hold to truth, focus on truth, and on what you can do. Instead of spending 30 minutes on “the news,” spend 10 reading journalists you trust, or at least respect, and spend the other 20 minutes emailing your legislators.
Then, do what you can to feed your soul. Cherish relationships — and extend them to embrace new communities. Cherish beauty — and look for it in unexpected places. Cherish music — and make it with others. We need to be in this struggle for the long haul, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam spoke passionately today at the Women’s March: Toronto about the need to take this amazing outpouring of women and men, standing up to Trump, and turn it into real power. She asked us to think about what we are going to do tomorrow, not just today. She pointed to a number of very important issues facing women in Toronto, and it got me thinking about what my own actions ought to be.
I intend to continue to work on transformative learning, and dialogues that lead to change.
I intend to support Erin Murphy for Governor of MN, and worthy candidates for other local offices.
I also will follow the American Values, Religious Voices campaign, which will offer one letter each day of the first 100 days of the Trump Administration. These letters are based deeply in the religious convictions of diverse communities and offer an opportunity to learn from and with each other about how to move into a more just and peaceful future. The campaign starts today!