The divine up-yours.

th(In honor of Throwback Thursday and the recent election, I’m putting this piece — originally published Nov. 3, 2010 — back out there.)

Last summer a relative told me that the only way to “protect” our border would be to allow the Border Patrol to shoot to kill. This eventually resulted in my writing an essay called “Who would Jesus strafe?

Initially, though, it resulted in disbelief and sorrow. I cried as I drove away because his heart was so hard and so bitter.

I needed to do something to cleanse myself of that kind of hatred. And that’s when I came up with my evil plan:


I would make a donation to a cause that I knew this guy would absolutely loathe. And I’d do it in his name.

So I sent some cash to H., a woman I know who teaches in Los Angeles. She’s a Palestinian, a social activist, a non-accepter of the status quo, a questioner of authority and an all-around kickass person — the kind of woman, in fact, that my relative would probably want to shoot to kill, if only for the fact that she wears a hijab. In my note, I explained the situation and asked her to use the money on something for her classroom. Subversive readings, maybe.

I just addressed another envelope to her. This time the money will be in the name of Clint McCance, who wishes all gay teens would kill themselves.


Knowledge is alive

When I told another writer about this, she dubbed my plan of action “the divine up-yours.” I agree. It’s a petty little gesture but it’s also a form of prayer, this turning of dead-end sorrow into positive action. Instead of sitting and crying, I’ll be helping to fuel the next generation of subverters of the dominant paradigm.

H. encourages her students to subvert, to speak up, to participate in the world. I worry about what will happen to them once they leave her classroom. Will they be allowed to live their dreams? Will they be allowed to live at all?  She recently heard from a former student whose high-school “guidance” counselor signed him up for ROTC without his knowledge or consent. Is he to be instead the next generation of cannon fodder?

That first time I wrote to her I realized that the partially used notebook I’d tossed in my suitcase was from the Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities. That’s where H. and I met, back in June 2007; we’d both won fellowships to attend the two-month program. (Incidentally, SIAH was the genesis of another essay, “Turning invisibility into stealth.”)

From the first day of class were notes that seemed relevant to our post-university lives:

  • “Knowledge is alive, rooted in social relations and most powerful when produced collaboratively through action”
  • “New categories (accommodating) themselves to old thought patterns”
  • “Respect for local custom and practices not as an obstacle to research, but as a site for possible learning and shared engagement and long-term social change”

Wait a minute. I need to respect customs like a “shoot to kill” mindset?

No. But I did need to try to understand them — and I needed to think of my relative as a human being, not as some gun-toting Tea Party caricature.



Understanding vs. forgiving

Perhaps, I thought, his anger and hatred are driven by fear: Fear of change, of the unknown, of losing power.

Perhaps he feels like less of a man because he sits at home all day, unemployed, while his wife goes to work.

Perhaps he’s looking for someone to blame. It’s got to be someone’s fault that his life didn’t turn out the way he wanted. It couldn’t be the result of a changing economy. Or globalization. Or corporate greed. Or even just the roll of the cosmic dice.

No. He is a middle-class, middle-aged white male. He has the absolute right to expect everything to go his way, always. So it must be….those Messicans! Yeah! That’s it! They ruin everything! Them and that #$@! Obama guy.

What a disappointed, angry man. He may never be truly happy because he can’t let go of what he wanted to have and will probably never get.

Understanding where my relative is coming from doesn’t excuse his douchebaggery, incidentally. It just puts it in context.

Understanding isn’t the same as forgiving. Not yet, anyway. In my church we speak a covenant in unison at the close of every service. It includes the phrase, “To promote Your reign of justice and peace, meeting hate with reconciling love.” I still struggle with that hate/love thing, even though I believe in its power.

At the moment I’m more in step with St. Augustine, who famously prayed for godly behavior – “but not just yet.” Reconciling love is what I strive for, but right now all I can think about is sending a few bucks to the Mexican-American Opportunity Foundation in my relative’s name.


Out of my comfort zone

It’s tempting to avoid people who don’t share my beliefs. It’s easy to think, “This guy is never going to listen to me, so why bother?” In fact, he said as much to me when I tried to speak to him about the issue of immigration: “It’s no good talking with you because you’re one of those liberals.”

I got irritated. But later I realized that I was using the same kind of essentialism on him: He’s one of those right-wingers. He’s never going to give me a moment’s serious consideration.

Even if that were true it’s no excuse for giving up. Paulo Freire, author of “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” wrote that real knowledge comes from “invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry people pursue in the world, with the world and with each other.”

If I close myself off from inquiry, then I’m not learning any longer. That’s not the kind of life I want. Since all my actions impact the world around me, it’s my cherished duty to make a difference. Otherwise I am perpetuating the status quo.

Some days, frankly, I’m not up to the challenge. I don’t want to discuss politics or religion or even the weather. Those are the times for reflection rather than action, for thinking, “What am I doing, or not doing, that could make a difference in the world?”

In large ways or small we can make that difference. It can be as simple as paying someone’s bus fare if he runs short, or volunteering for causes in which we believe, or speaking up when somebody makes a hateful comment. (It can also be as serious as teaching school – thanks, H.!)

We can create a world that’s welcoming to all, even the people we don’t particularly like. To do that, though, we need to examine our own behavior and motives. After all, I condemned my relative for being intolerant yet I initially responded with intolerance of my own.

Before I can learn to forgive him his hatred, I need to look a little harder at myself. It might be time to donate money in my own name, as a prayer for my own failings and a reminder to do better. “Reconciling love” is a great concept. It’s also a lot tougher than it looks.

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  1. I like the way you think. 🙂

    And pity is a good way to defuse one’s own anger or helplessness, though probably not what the object of said pity would want.

    When I was a little kid and learning about the saints, there were two Thereses. I thought of them as the interesting Therese, from Spain who kicked people who weren’t behaving out of churches and so on, and the boring little French Saint Theresa, who tried to live a good and quiet life, being the best person she could be. She tried to like people she hated so that she could be a better person herself. She did small good deeds as her health permitted.

    As I’ve gotten older I now understand why that behavior is so saintly and why it’s so hard. She wasn’t a wimp (like I’d thought), but incredibly good at self-control and truly a good example and something to strive for. Something we can all be if we work hard enough at being better people.

    Though some days I alternate that belief with realizing that sometimes I actually do need to be assertive against injustice, or at least advantage-takers-of. There are trade-offs. It is very difficult to know what is the best course of action in the face of intolerance and injustice.

    • I also struggled with the two Thereses. Now much more mature, I realize that our gifts and circumstances are very different and sainthood is not gained in only one path. The nasty woman, kick ass Therese had a much different personality than the boring little French one. They both made lemonade!

  2. This is the first time I’ve posted, your words should make all of us look inward more often. And on a lighter note, I learned a new word and know I’ll use it someday -“douchebaggery”! lol

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sue: Welcome! And thank you for leaving a comment.
      Re douchebaggery: Knowledge is power. 🙂

  3. I love the idea of the donation. It must be healing but I don’t think that I would look to understand hatred. I’m more of an avoider. There are some things that I can’t fix and some people that can’t be enlightened.
    I just can’t wait to see the outcome. He is going to know you did it.

  4. While you’re at it, send him a subscription to Playgirl and send away for sex toy catalogs in his name. Big vengeance!

    Seriously though, wonderful article! You put so much thought into this when you revisited this topic. It certainly gave me something to think about.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Iamtheworkingpoor: Don’t tempt me. 🙂
      And thanks for your kind words.

  5. Carol the Long Winded

    Great article. Lots to think about – I’m a UU and I struggle with that 1st principle “Valuing the inherant worth and dignity of all people…”

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sis. Carol: Viva la lucha!
      Thanks for stopping by. (Incidentally, it was our own DJ who called it “a divine up-yours.” 🙂

  6. How can you sign someone up for the army without their consent? That’s messed up. Also, I think it’s great what you’re doing. Instead of getting angry you’re doing something. Doing something is always better than doing nothing.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Melissa A.: I agree that it’s messed up to sign someone up for a military-related class without his consent. And it’s happened more than once, according to my teacher friend.
      Some of these kids don’t know they’re allowed to say, “Wait a minute. I didn’t ask for that course. I don’t want that course.” Or they’ve been taught to obey adults, and at 14 it can be hard to speak up against someone who supposedly has your best interests at heart.
      And I’m still angry. I’m trying not to be. Doing something, as you note, is not only better than nothing, it’s a way to rise above the anger.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  7. Good job, Donna. Who wishes death for gay teens? Is that not evil and weak? Now, I could wish it on my ex, okay, I actually have had the wish, the hope, the desire…oh, yeah, to do it myself. But, teens are so vulnerable and gay teens face so much from their peers, often, that it seems so cruel for a grown man to have so much intolerance and hate in his speech for a child, any child. Apparently his maturity level and self-esteem is very low. But, I still do not pity him. I pity those he reviles. The DWEM (Dead White European Males) have done so much to injure others in so many ways. I often wonder when it will end. His majority status gives him the right to hurt the minority, the marginalized. Does he realize he picked an easy target? How much power he must feel! (sarcasm) As Andrea Dworkin commented, mens’ power existed a priori. It is upheld by all institutions of life. They make history their own. I wonder how proud he is of himself?

    • Donna Freedman

      @Practical Parsimony: He originally said that he would disown his children if were gay. My heart aches for them if that’s the case: Imagine hearing your own father say he would hate you for who you are.
      Apparently he’s been backpedaling like mad, saying he went “over the top” with his comments. Um, yeah.
      People can change. It’s just that a lot of them see no need to do it.
      Thanks for your comment.

  8. I am glad to read towards the end that you came to the conclusion that your initial passive-aggressive response was not right, either. You were angry with him for being so angry with illegal immigrants. Anger does not cancel out anger. That was such a nice resolution to this post and it leaves me with a good feeling. Also, we should all be grateful that we live in a country with religious freedom and freedom of speech.

  9. Amen!

    I have done this sort of thing, too, and a lot more frequently lately. You’ve given me a few more ideas for up-yours donations. Thanks!

  10. On a similar note…

    I had a long-time friend who, over time, became more and more stridently hostile towards a particular religious group. Balmed “them” for everything, etc. You know the type.

    Well, as a long-time friend, I tried to tolerate this and her, and dropped some hints about the corrosive nature of her beliefs. Didn’t help.

    And said friend started sending me emails bolstering her position and opions. These emails became more and more incendiary. I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that stuff. Nor did I any longer want to hear from her. Sad, but all that hostility erased any good feelings I had for her. So the friendship dissolved. And now she is out of my life.

    How did I do it? One holiday season I went to the store, found a holiday card celebrating some holiday of said religious group and sent it to her.

    Happily, never heard from her again.

  11. Donna, another great essay. Thanks.

  12. LovesACat

    I’m not saying there aren’t teachers who abuse their power, but they aren’t ALL right wing nut jobs. Seriously, you don’t like 14 year olds who are taught to obey adults? I knew few teenagers who don’t very quickly develop minds of their own. It’s usually a struggle to get them through the teen years without permanently harming themselves.

    And sending money to a cause in the name of your relative who is in direct opposition to it, is petty and childish. Because this woman you so admire wears a hijab and is pro Palestinian, does not necessarily make her a better person than your relative in New Jersey. You clearly have your own set of prejudices.

    • Donna Freedman

      @LovesACat: Back up a minute. I didn’t say all teachers are right-wing nut jobs — you did. In fact, my dad was a teacher, my aunt was a teacher, my sister is a teacher, my niece is a teacher.
      I also didn’t say that I don’t like obedient children. What I am saying is that a guidance counselor (not a teacher) doesn’t have the right to sign someone up for a course without his knowledge or consent.
      And of course what I did was petty. I acknowledged that fact in the piece. Revenge is an ignoble motive and I’m trying to move beyond the need for it. In the meantime, someone will benefit from my spiritual struggles. (Incidentally, I make quite a few non-cranky donations as well.)
      As I noted in the piece, the teacher is not “pro-Palestinian,” she is Palestinian. I admire her because of her mind and her heart: She believes in teaching children to think, rather than using what Freire calls “the banking method” of education (deposit knowledge for withdrawal at test time). She even pulls off the rather neat trick of being kind and fierce all at the same time.
      And just FYI: Naturally I have my own set of prejudices. So do you. So does everyone. That’s why at the end of the piece I wrote, “It might be time to donate money in my own name, as a prayer for my own failings and a reminder to do better.”
      Thanks for reading.

  13. LovesACat

    Okay, response well accepted.

    • Donna Freedman

      @LovesACat: Thanks. I hope you’ll keep coming back to read and comment.

  14. I have many of these moments in the classroom. The other day, as I walked in, I heard a student say “I hate Mexicans.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Just the illegal ones.” And I said, “Most of our families were illegal immigrants back in the day.” 30 jaws dropped, but they all agreed in the end.

    • Donna Freedman

      @FrugalScholar: One of my classmates, a Native American fellow, wore a T-shirt with a photo of Geronimo and some other guys holding guns and the caption, “The original Homeland Security — fighting terrorism since 1492.”
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  15. Frugal Scholar, We should just pack ourselves up and send us back from whence we came. Okay, Ukraine, France, or Scotland, here I come…lol.

    And, I don’t believe in Manifest Destiny, even though I have almost been bodily thrown from churches for vocally defying that teaching.

    S.I. Hayakawa said it best–“We stole it fair and square.” Now, he is not approving of the actions from 1492 onward!

    Students have had the same reaction when I have presented information in a similar manner when those students were grousing about illegals, meaning, of course, Hispanics. It does no good to present good arguments about talking bad about a certain people. Just pointing out how their forefathers were in the same condition and often reviled works. I asked how many people were of certain descent, and people proudly raised their hands. When I told them how hated their ancestors were, they became very thoughtful.

  16. valleycat1

    Newbie here today following a link from FunnyAboutMoney. Great post. I’ve struggled with a similar situation with several friends who are part of a group that gets together several times a month. One in particular is always baiting the conversation with similar outlandish statements. How to disagree without lowering myself to their level or just sitting back & saying nothing – the haters & racists shouldn’t get to define the conversation. At this point I just say ‘ you know, I disagree with you.” But until they want to actually have an adult conversation on the topic, why waste the time explaining myself?

    • Donna Freedman

      @Valleycat1: You’re right about not being dragged down to their level; an editor I knew used to say, “Never wrestle with pigs — you get all dirty, and the pigs like it.”
      But at the same time I know that if you let comments like that go by, you’re complicit. Even a simple, “Why do you say that?” or “That’s not been my experience — tell me about yours” can at least require the person to own up to what may have been a thoughtless, flippant remark. Calling him on it might be tough — but it might make him, or someone else in the room, think a little bit.
      Or not. But at least you don’t lie awake that night and think, “Why didn’t I say something?”
      Thanks for coming by, and for leaving a comment.

  17. Jane Smith

    I haven’t written before. Just an observation…..I think that all religions are intolerant at one time or another and it’s this intolerant belief system that encourages predjudice.
    Nothing against anyone’s religion……………

  18. Great commentary, Donna. It can be so hard to put yourself in polarizing situations deliberately. Sometimes the best we can do is realize our shortcomings (like maybe a lack of patience for that day) and then keep ourselves out of trouble. I’m a “conservative” to most of my friends and colleagues, but a “liberal” to my family of origin, so I’ve had a lot of practice with that patience thing. (I’m getting better at aversion too, haha). Anyway – thanks for sharing some great thoughts.

  19. Bless you, my friend. Such a good idea. Probably helps you more than “them.” Still, you might be changing minds, one brain cell at a time.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Reta: I sure hope so! But you’re right, it does help me.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  20. Hm. I read this quickly and so maybe missed some of the subtleties. But where you say “…but I did need to try to understand them — and I needed to think of my relative as a human being, not as some gun-toting Tea Party caricature,” my off -the-cuff response is…well, it’s “no.”

    No. You can’t forgive this kind of “thinking.” It would be like forgiving Hitler. Look. This is the kind of popularized and then institutionalized hatred that the Nazis promoted and exploited. And if you think it can’t happen here, think again.

    I don’t even think you can understand it. I can understand it, yes, as evil. But that’s different from having an open mind toward it. This sort of mouthing off — “shoot to kill” — sure, it’s moronic. Sure, some of the morons would be appalled if they actually saw another human being bleeding out on the ground in front of them. But one incident would inure them to it. It’s moronic, but it becomes self-fulfilling.

    It doesn’t matter whether the speaker is some guy who feels frustrated because his wife is still working and he’s not, or because she earns more than he does, or because he’s scared or stupid or whatever his excuse is.

    Raw hatred is not understandable. Wishing death on teenaged kids is not understandable. Fear of brown toddlers is not understandable. Careless talk about inflicting a rough form of capital punishment, vigilante-style, on people whose “crime” is to cross an artificial line across territory that historically was their home and whose malign motive is to earn $7.75 an hour (or less — much less) with which to feed their starving families is not understandable. And it is not forgivable.

    What we need here is for us knee-jerk liberals to quit being so f***ing understanding and to buy ourselves a few national media outlets and rise up on our hind legs, just like the loud-mouthed right wing-nuts, and holler and bully and threaten and propagandize in rage. Only in our case, we need to holler and bully and propagandize for what is morally right and for what is truthful. That is the only way the lies and the hatred can be counteracted.

    All that is the matter with Mr. Obama — besides his being the wrong color for a certain contingent of the citizenry — is that he is too damned polite. Too damned understanding. And too damned forgiving.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Funny: I disagree. Raw hatred is understandable — it stems from ignorance and/or lack of experience and/or trauma. I expect a lot of slaves hated white people, and who could blame them?
      I am not saying that such hatred is perfectly fine. But it’s understandable. I don’t equate “understanding” with “acceptance.”
      I don’t have, as you put it, an “open mind” toward this kind of behavior. I believe it is morally wrong. When I say “forgive,” I don’t mean giving carte blanche to go on being a hater (as the kids say). I’m thinking more along the lines of Jesus when He said “Father, forgive them — they know not what they do.”
      Despite my anger at bigots, I still believe we need to embrace non-violent means to work for a better world. Loud is OK. Persistent is even better. But if we bully and threaten and propagandize, we’re no better than the Teabaggers.
      People who hate can learn another way. It’s not likely — but it’s also not impossible.
      Thanks for your comment. And yeah, I’d appreciate it if you’d give the piece a slower read.

      • Only by understanding where a person is coming from can you begin to frame a discussion that will actually touch them rather than making them dig in their heels.

  21. Just want to send some love your way.

    • Donna Freedman

      Why, thank you!

      I hope that you and others who feel this post spoke to them will share the link with others. Would like to expand the conversation.

  22. You had me nodding and agreeing until you wrote “No. He is a middle-class, middle-aged white male. He has the absolute right to expect everything to go his way, always.”
    My husband is a white, middle-aged male that grew up poorer than you could even begin to imagine. Without going into details here, I find that you have just lumped ALL white males into the same boat. Please do not perpetuate the stereotype. Some “middle-class, middle-aged white males” worked harder doing jobs that even you would not have considered. While your relative sounds like a complete asshat, your words hurt much more than his, and perpetuate another stereotype that cannot be tolerated.

    • Donna Freedman

      I wasn’t stereotyping the men, but rather pointing out the system that has conditioned them. White men of all classes have had power conferred on them simply because they were white and male. True, the lower classes (which includes a bunch of my relatives) have less power but that privilege still exists.

      Plenty of minorities grow up “poorer than you could even begin to imagine…doing jobs that even you would not have considered” yet don’t have the same power that their white counterparts do.

      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  23. Well said, Donna. A couple of thoughts spring to mind.

    First, when I was a young nursing mom in La Leche League, a leader told us that on average, people have to hear a message ten times before they really begin to hear it and take it in. I don’t know if that’s a true statistic or one made up on the spot, but the idea behind it rings true to me. The more times we reach out to people with messages of love, of tolerance, of shared community, the more opportunities they have to hear that message, and the more likely that it will gradually sink in.

    Second, actions speak a million times louder than words. When we respond to rude or dismissive behavior with the same, nothing changes. If we respond with calm and respect, we model that behavior and give the other person a chance to respond in kind. It’s not easy to do, and it doesn’t always have immediate results, but I believe it works over time.

    Now, if only I could live up to those two principles more often and more consistently than I do! Donna, I salute you for trying to see your relative’s point of view and keeping the lines of communication open. Here’s hoping your influence will make a positive difference in his life!

    • Donna Freedman

      “If we respond to rude or dismissive behavior with the same, nothing changes.”

      Yes. It just continues to be dogs snapping at each other. Miss Manners says you can never be rude in response to rudeness — you can only be more polite. It would help if each side at least tried to see the other’s point of view.

      Sometimes compassion works, sometimes it doesn’t. At times it takes that reconciling love. Or just plain experience: One of my relatives was unabashedly racist. Toward the end of her life she lived in her daughter’s home, quite ill, and cared for by a series of nurses. One of them was African-American. I was not there for their first meeting, but was visiting when that nurse stopped in. I expected an explosion of rancor afterward, but my relative shocked me by saying the nurse was “a real nice girl.” (This wasn’t the racist equivalent of calling all African-American men “boy,” incidentally; my relative referred to any young woman as a “girl.”)

      Thus it was personal experience with a member of The Other that changed her mind. The nurse was cheerful, kind and caring, and my relative’s worldview changed. I’m sorry that she had to live so many years hating a chunk of the population, but she died with a different experience. That “calm and respect” of which you speak — in this case, directed at her, from the nurse — changed her life.

      May we all be better at listening. And thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  24. Nicole Berry

    You made my day. This is the most uplifting post that I have read in a while. I hope this post goes viral and promotes reflection into the souls of all who read it, as it did for me.

  25. I had to laugh at the notion of making a donation in the name of the person being hateful, but nodded ruefully as I also acknowledge that instinct is the one that hits back when provoked. It’s not always inappropriate, especially having been the target of physical bullying growing up it was definitely appropriate or they’d never have stopped, but it’s an instinct that isn’t always right or conducive to engaging on a higher level.

    Where people are capable of learning and doing better, I try to keep the avenues open. That said, I do find myself rather exhausted from having to point out over and over that just because (the general you) you don’t feel threatened by a DT presidency doesn’t mean that people of color aren’t already coming under immediate and physical threat in the name of the P-Elect, and that they aren’t right to fear and reject that horrors that may come from a regime headed by someone who exhorted violence against those who disagreed with him. It’s been a rough week, and it takes some extra effort to find that grace again.

    • Donna Freedman

      I’ve found it to be a pretty rough week, too. Maybe we can take turns being gracious?

      Thanks, Revanche, for being such a consistent reader and commenter — and you already know how happy I was to meet you in person at FinCon16. Next year in Dallas!

  26. People can change, but generally only when the pain of not changing exceeds the pain of changing. As in the stereotypical person who undertakes a diet & exercise regime only *after* the heart attack. The voter “for change” is hoping for top-down change, not bottom up – but lasting change always starts at the bottom.

    I really do wonder about all those people who voted for DT because he promised them “change.” Change from what? Change to what? (And then many of them went ahead and re-elected their same old representatives!)

    What exactly is the change they want? I don’t see any benefit at all in trying to “understand” hatred, but I do think we could gain a lot by trying to elicit this answer. “What is the change you want? What is missing from your life?” And if the hateful person is actually someone you love, “What can I do to help?” If there has been a failure on the left, I think it was a failure to ask “how can we help.” I get out of the city whenever I can, and while my tribe is in the city, and I appreciate what the liberal city does for the disadvantaged within it, I can still see that people in conservative ruralia do need help too.

    The narrative that the right supplies does not say “the coastal elites are helping make sure *you* get healthcare, and income support, and emergency help after a disaster.” That narrative instead says “the elites are taking away XYZ from you and giving them to others.” It isn’t true, but if the left is not there asking “what do you need,” it kind of smells true.

    If there is one thing I wish all people would understand, it is this: you cannot change your life until you change the way you live. If the way you live is small and bitter, so will your life be. But sometimes people need things they can’t quite bear to ask for, to make their lives less small and less bitter.

    • Donna Freedman

      “If the way you live is small and bitter, so will your life be.”

      This — but I’d like to caution that it applies to moderates and liberals, too. If you spend too much of your time hating on others or wishing they’d see the One True Way, your world becomes an echo chamber.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

    • I know quite a few Donald Trump voters. I myself was one. I can guarantee you that I, nor the other people I know who voted for Trump are hateful people. In fact the DT voters that I know are some of the kindest people I have met, many involved in foreign adoption, feeding the hungry and all kinds of other good works. I don’t hang with hateful people and I bet you don’t either. And I bet everyone has a number of friends who voted for DT but didn’t want to say anything because they will be labeled hateful or racist. These are the folks, the silent majority, that propelled Trump to victory, perhaps because they also understood that Donald Trump is not a hateful person either, but is rather someone that has been demonized by the propaganda of media sources with political agendas. I would recommend that anyone who considers Donald Trump to be hateful, racist, bigoted or a NAZI, commit themselves to doing accurate and thorough research on whether these characterizations are accurate. DT wants to make a way for our hard working Mexican neighbors to enter the country legally, but the media claims he wants to “separate families.” There are many interviews where he states this. Have you seen them on the news channel that you watch? DT was also the most inclusive candidate in the Republican Party when it comes to LGBT issues. Did you know this? And DT has a good track record of promoting women within his organization and many speak very highly of him. Most business owners who actually want to make a profit realize that the best way to do this is to promote talent, regardless or ethnicity or gender. I run a business and I know this to be true as well. So, while all might agree that DT isn’t perfect..just like you and I aren’t perfect.. and there are areas of his personality/character that have made us uncomfortable, most realize that he isn’t the evil person that the protesters on the street have been duped into believing that he is. When someone (particularly a young person) doesn’t know how to discuss issues, it seems that today their only resort is to call someone hateful or racist. Yet the hatred and racism that is being demonstrated by the losing party today in our streets goes unchecked. And finally, as relates to changes I would like to see, there are many, far too many to list here. Certainly you must understand that the Republicans and Democrats have different views on virtually everything. But one item on my very long list of what I want to see changed would be that we have a President that will respect our constitution rather than illegally passing laws based on some feeling of moral superiority.

      • WubbWeb – bless you for an excellent post. Yes, many of us who voted for Trump were tired of the biased press, an opposing candidate who has proven herself to be less than honest, and a current President who it appears feels he is above following the Constitution. We are saddened at the violence many are currently exhibiting because their candidate didn’t win – we’re all in this together, and need to treat each other with kindness and respect. The world is watching – what kind of an example are we setting? I pray that we can all learn to get along and work together towards a brighter future despite our differences.

      • Cathy in NJ

        I did not vote for DT President Elect but I understand why many of my DOD and military co-workers around me did. The email issue is not some sort of esoteric incomprehensible media hype. If I treated my email in the same way as HC I would be fired and in prison or on probation and so would any of my co-workers. The types of people that were put at risk by the HC email fiasco are the people that we talk to on the phone and that put their lives at risk and whose families experience the sacrifices of deployments. The carelessness with classified information causes fear. So just as people fear DT for many of his inflammatory comments that would cause shootings and families to be separated the emails caused many DOD workers to fear shootings, ambushes and for their families to be separated forever.

      • Many of the people who are reacting negatively to Donald Trump do not consider him to have “areas of his personality/character” making them “uncomfortable” but direct attacks on their existence. Many of those negative remarks came directly from his speeches and his twitter feed. It’s no accident that he’s putting Bannon in the white house. Trump feeds off of adulation, wherever that comes from, not policy. And I’m not sure where the legal support for Trump’s stated policies might come from. You can’t actually wipe federal agencies off the map unless you also wipe off the laws they implement.

        Now I understand why people may have voted for him, and getting by is definitely tough. Trump’s actions thus far during transition do not indicate that he has respect for the law or support for anything that might help working women in this country. We shall see.

  27. Aunt Leesie

    Read your blog post and all the responses with interest. There’s another, perhaps unknown viewpoint. Some of us have never embraced either main party’s ideology. Nor registered to vote under either canopy. Some of us have watched silently for years as the chasm has grown deeper and wider, feeling caught in the crossfire. Some of us felt both (ultimate) candidates were an equally bad choice, were not as shocked by the outcome, and are saddened by a response which seems–to us–an illustration of perfect hypocrisy. We feel we’re watching America go down in flames. We also saw it coming. And we’ve never been included in the equation. The political system has been broken for years. America’s society has been shifting to a tribal mentality for at least as long.

    It’s nice to see a recognition of the importance to have real dialog across the chasm… not just shouting at each other or labeling opposing views as “irredeemable”. During this presidential campaign, I had a friend say “Well f— you” when I explained I couldn’t sign a Republican petition because I’m registered undeclared, AND I had a shop owner in town get angry when I couldn’t agree that Hillary was the best choice. In fact, I didn’t feel politics was a necessary discussion in a bead shop. She’ll still take my money, I’m sure, but after years of knowing each other, the atmosphere is now strained and cool. All niceties gone.

    Maybe the best overall option is to check your politics at the front door when you leave home. Just get to know your fellow human beings as people with lives, and struggles, and fascinating experiences without trying to determine if they belong to your tribe. It might just surprise you to find how much less tension there can be. It might just help put this fire out.

    • Donna Freedman

      If a friend said eff you for not agreeing politically, s/he wasn’t much of a friend.

      I like to get to know people and their struggles et al., but I also do want to know their political leanings — if only so that I don’t inadvertently start an argument. As noted, I’m trying to understand other points of view but I don’t want to be blindsided the way you were. “How could you not agree that (whatever) is correct” is not how I want my shopping trips to go.

      • Aunt Leesie

        I guess my point, Donna, (and I do see yours, by the way) is if we keep all political discussions safely within our homes and tighter circles as my grandmother’s generation astutely did, there’d be no reason to fear inadvertently starting an argument or blindsiding someone the way the bead shop owner did me. Although we’re still on speaking terms, the friendship mentioned did splinter when I realized we weren’t really “friends” after all. And that’s sad. My understanding is it happened a lot during this election campaign… all because politics became a regular, public discussion everywhere.

        • Kate Nelson

          With the rise of the internet, you never have to see any news or information that conflicts with your world view. That is scary as hell to me.

          • Aunt Leesie

            Well, since I don’t conduct interviews with people when I meet them and don’t base my opinions or impressions of them based on what their political views might/might not be, and since I was taught to avoid the topics of religion and politics in social situations, it isn’t really an issue. I have no idea whether or not the people I’m in casual contact with subscribe to one or another political world view, because honestly, it doesn’t matter to me. Which IS the point. It shouldn’t matter. We don’t all have to agree.

  28. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years. Every time I see the protestors in front of the Planned Parenthood near us, I walk in and donate $20 in honor of that day’s protest. It was getting expensive last year. I made sure to let the group know that they motivated me to stop and give money. I shout that out, smile, and wave as I drive away. PP was the only place I could afford to go in college for my chronic UTI’s (that’s before I was sexually active too…they are there to help for lots of things that aren’t just baby related). 🙂

    • Donna Freedman

      For about a year my only healthcare was through Planned Parenthood. Also treated for UTIs but also, once, for something like strep. The doctors there always gave me a general physical.

  29. Carolina Cooper

    Thanks for this Throwback Thursday. I remember reading it in 2010 and thinking, “Yep, if we both still lived in Philly/New Jersey, we would be friends.” It is even more on point today. As the daughter of a gunsmith, I got to hear a lot of what I call “NRA talk” growing up. But, I did grow up and go off to college, and form my own opinions. However, I learned to keep my thoughts to myself around my somewhat-to-the-right-of-Attila-the-Hun father. That choosing whom to share my thoughts with (political and otherwise)has stood me in good stead for a lifetime. Thanks for being there for me this week. I needed it.

  30. MAN….Has it been 6 years since this was published? Time does fly! I’m not a fan of the “haters”. But think we can all agree immigration reform is long overdue. But I don’t think “amnesty” is the answer. Suppose I lived in Mexico and decided I want opportunity in the US. I fill out all the paper work pay the fees and then am admitted. Which as I understand it takes some time. But my neighbor in Mexico just jumps the border illegally. Why should someone who broke the law get the same treatment as someone who did not?

  31. Thank you for this. You are always awesome, but this one is solid gold.

  32. Mirabella

    This article was truly both timely and timeless, as it turns out, and I thank you for reprinting it. I have two people close to me who are politically diametrically opposed to me and quite vocal about how “right” they are and how “stupid” I am (not merely wrong, but stupid). I try not to argue with either of them any more than I have to, but I also have a blunt side so these discussions often go nowhere fast. Needless to say they are both way more thrilled about the results of this election than I am and will ever be.

    So I appreciate your wonderfully wise reminder to us all that people have reasons for what they say and how they believe and that they’re not just there to give you a hard time. In the end, we all want to make this world a better place for its citizens, and I hope that we will continue to fight the good fight, whether we are celebrating or commiserating the election results.

  33. Kate Nelson

    An excellent essay. Much love coming your way! Remember, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then there will be peace in the world.” Many of the most hateful people are the ones who feel the least loved and the most powerless. It doesn’t give them an excuse for their behavior, but it does provide a context.

  34. Nice essay and it is one to ponder on! I have started working on myself to become a better person,pray for peace and know that it starts with me! I am working on understanding of where others are in their life and not pass judgement. There is good in all people!

  35. I like the divine up yours idea. I help teach English as a Second Language because I like it, but it can at time feel like a divine up yours action when I encounter folks who would like to dismiss my students as a homogenous lazy undeserving group.

  36. Katie Horner

    Fantastic…thank you for sharing. I am now more motivated than ever to get out and help and put my money where my mouth is.

  37. I’m giving money to Planned Parenthood in Mr. Pence’s name.

    The last time I donated to them, they pestered me mercilessly for more donations…took a couple of years before they gave up. I sincerely hope they’ll pester him this time… Pestering x all the thousands of women who are doing this. 😉


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