I had an epiphany this morning at temple (I know, wrong religion for epiphany) that the questions I've been struggling with (see last blog post) may come down to how we're individually channeling our emotional and intellectual energy in this post-election world.
I have friends who are spending their energy wonderfully, with daily political actions and regular protests and financial donations. I admire their passion, their focus, their clear-headed anger and commitment. I want to be like those people!
But I'm not. I'm in the confused camp. I'm feeling the need to spend some of my energy trying to understand Trump supporters and how the election could have happened as it did. And I've had friends get fed up with this as a waste of time. Their implication -- as I understand it, but perhaps I'm paranoid -- is that I'm spending energy on people who don't deserve it and that trying to understand Trump supporters in an empathetic way (not fully succeeding, mind you, but trying) is essentially selling out people of color because I'm giving energy to racists.
I worry that they're right and that I'm complicit in racism. And I worry that they're wrong, and that such division and polarization is how we wound up in this situation in the first place.
It's hard to know what to do.
So I'm basically trying to hedge my bets. I'm making phone calls to elected officials, although I don't seem to have the mental focus and wherewithal to do this daily. D. and I are discussing where we want monthly donations to go. We're going to the Women's March in January in DC. I think of that work as the "fight the good fight and take down these racists and burgeoning totalitarians!" work.
But I'm also trying to read and understand the full range of people who voted for Trump, which I think of as the "reasonable conversation in an atmosphere of respect can change minds and hearts" work. I'm not actually sure how much such change is possible, but I think I have to try. Anger doesn't fuel me, as it does for some of my more politically committed friends; it drains me. So I need to figure out a way to keep going with phone calls, etc. without being angry about it.
But it does help me to think about people making individual choices about what fuels them and where they're going to spend their energy, rather than there being a right or wrong way to respond to this post-election world.