The Moral Line

“I’m turning on Monday night football,” my husband announced hitting the switch. “The game’s being played in Mexico City, and I’m curious to see their stadium.” He turned as I watched cameras panning over the enormous crowd. “Do you know what a big deal this is to some of these folks? It’s been over ten years since they had an NFL game there.” We stared at the spectacle and the singing of The Star Spangled Banner began as I drifted out of the room to check a cooking project. A few moments later a confident baritone opened the Mexican National Anthem, and I was enticed back. The song and singer were impressive, but it was the participation of fans that mesmerized. Never in my life have I heard so many people singing their nation’s song so loudly and proudly. It was beautiful. As the moment ended and spectators roared, an announcer reported, “And despite the current tensions between the U.S. and Mexico due to our recent election, crowds here in Mexico City were very respectful during the United States’ anthem.”

Back in the kitchen, ashamed that a sportscaster would ever need to marvel that our Southern neighbors still respect us, I was sick with the awareness that the U.S. may have lost the respect of the entire globe. The three week funk I’ve been in since the election simmered along side the broth I was cooking. Ironically it was an enormous pot of Pozole Rojo, a traditional Mexican soup.

For those of you who voted for Trump and want me to “get over it graciously because your candidate won fair and square, and my candidate lost, and it’s the American Way to accept the outcome” – for you I say this: the American Way that I know is presently missing in action.

Whether it has been temporarily obscured or completely destroyed remains to be seen. From all I have observed and learned about your candidate these past eighteen months, it’s apparent he played and continues to play a huge role in this unsettling disappearance. I’m trying to accept the outcome as graciously as possible because there is no recourse at this time. But I will not grant your candidate my respect or even the smallest measure of approval. I will not accept a divided nation lead by a man who instigates hate and only knows one Way: his own.

My gentle and wise son, Reid sent me his thoughts about disassociating from people who didn’t vote or voted for Trump. He said “While it makes me upset that people I love did that, I also know they are not bad people. It is somewhat hypocritical for me to change my view of them based on their political choices. One beauty of this country is that people can have opposing political views. If we shun others because they have different opinions, then we are no better than the White Nationalists. This means if I have friends who I disagree with, I either need to find a way to have a civil conversation that won’t alter our friendship, or be open with them that politics isn’t a topic we can discuss.”

I agree with Reid. It can be very difficult at times, but it’s best to keep an open mind and heart. Intelligent discourse with people who have different opinions is an amazing way to expand one’s brain and an even better way to stretch one’s comfort zone.

The fundamentals of why people voted for Trump are understandable (this is not an exhaustive list): many wanted someone who is more business-oriented; some are hoping for greater financial security and like his ideas; others are looking for conservative laws. Then there were those voters who simply didn’t want Clinton – for a variety of reasons – from former the Clinton Administration, to her foreign policies, to the singular fact that she is female. With exception only to the very last reason listed, I can agree that these are sound and appropriate voting influences.

So why my vehement opposition to this particular person? Why isn’t Trump my President? Because I am – along with over 2 million others (at last count) – still reeling over the things he said and did during his campaign, as well as his personal history. His constituents must have only been listening to his campaign promises, but THIS voter was also paying attention to the man himself. And as it turns out, he is immoral.

Trump prides himself on insulting people of all racial backgrounds. He mocks those who are disabled, disrespects brave heroes, war veterans and their families; he belittles those who appear weaker. He brags about taking advantage via wealth and buys his power to commit morally and legally questionable acts. He boasts irrationally about the things he could and does “get away with” when he wants to, lies over and over and over and over, feigns ignorance, and takes zero responsibility for his past and present hateful treatment of women. He does it all without so much as a single backwards glance. For nearly two years he goaded his supporters into frenzied hatred, and embodied a persona as far from American Presidential as anything this nation has ever seen. Since November 9th, his dangerous circus of political ineptitude and full-fledged bigotry has increased. His words and deeds, admitted abuses and sidestepped crimes, obvious narcissism, and inability and unwillingness to discern right from wrong – let alone goodness from evil – makes my skin crawl and heart heavy.

If, on January 20th, 2017, this bruise of a human takes the oath of office as the leader of my homeland, then I will be more ashamed. I will be home sick.

To those of you who cast your ballot for campaign promises of a better future, I heartily wish you the very best. If we talk about those promises and you tell me about your hopes, I will be happy to listen and learn. If you share an honest vision of positive change for our nation, I will lean in and thank you. Perhaps we can peacefully agree to disagree about the “best person” for the highest job in the land. But. Please don’t take offense when I ask if you were paying attention to the texture of Trump’s character. And please don’t take offense when I want to learn more about yours.

I’m going to need to know which side of the moral line you stand on in order to feel safe being your friend. Does this sound conditional? It is.

Here are the conditions: I’ll want assurance that you will always treat my daughters as equals to men as well as honor their right to choice – no matter what you personally feel or believe. I’ll need a promise that you will treat Muslims, Jews, Mexicans, and all people of color with respect and fairness. I will ask if you agree that Black Lives Matter. I will be curious if you have compassion for immigrants; if you can support people of all sexual orientations, their love, and their rights. I’ll ask you if you want to protect the planet for the welfare of our future. I will expect you to agree that walls are something for vines to grow on – but never ever necessary to put between friends or allies.

I’ll also ask if you will stand next to me to help someone who has fallen, and whether you can vow to protect those who are weaker. Will you help keep Martin’s dream alive and denounce those who seek to shatter it? I’ll ask if you are committed to the best of the “American Way” that has made us a nation united during difficult times…because remembering that Way will guide us when the path has been obscured. Finally, I’ll ask you this: If your President tries to break all of this apart – will you stand with me to keep America whole, healthy, peaceful and true to its best potential?

I know. It’s a lot to ask for. It may feel really personal and uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be hard though. You don’t have to turn your back on the hopes you pinned on Trump’s promises; you just have to be willing to take action the moment his promises become persecutions. Together we can practice kindness, decency and mutual respect. Together we can be determined and lead with love.

Dedicated to HRC. You really are remarkably heroic. The glass ceiling may not have been shattered, but you certainly put one hell of a crack in it. It’s only going to take a tiny tap to bring the whole damn thing down. Thank you for your bravery and commitment to the greater good.

Climb down off that wall, soup’s on!

About Martha Phelps Studio ~ creative on purpose

...a meandering journal of a changing life and the unexpected graces it brings. Earlier posts may provide some history, but this series of writings aren't likely to follow a straight line as I explore topics such as raising kids, making choices, self discovery, the impact of change on a family and how to (hopefully) live with balance and purpose.
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