November 2016 Archives

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"'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo. 'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

This time has been given to us--and it is a time that calls for great moral courage and clarity of purpose. It is a time when we are asked to resist injustice, resist bigotry, resist the targeting of vulnerable minorities, resist racism in all its forms. It is a time when we must stand up for Mother Earth and all her species, more strongly than we have ever done before. It is a time when we must wake every morning and set our moral compass.

For some of us, it is inevitably a time when we experience a sense of threat. If we are undocumented, we fear deportation. If we are Muslim, we fear being put on a registry. If we are African-American, we fear increased racial profiling. If we are in the LGBTQ community, we fear the loss of marriage equality. If we are women, we fear the erosion of our reproductive rights. If we are rape survivors, we fear the normalization of rape and sexual harassment. If we have come here fleeing an authoritarian regime, we wonder if history is repeating itself. Where now can we go?

For others of us, the threat may be less evident. It is tempting to look on the bright side; after all, it's only four (or eight) years. The People have spoken (sort of, as Hillary won the popular vote). Now we need to give Trump a chance. It is tempting to accommodate, to look the other way, to get on with our own lives. And this is why we need to set our moral compass every single morning as we awaken to a new day. Is racism permissible, because it won't affect us? Are deportations acceptable, if our family won't be deported? Is persecution of a religious minority acceptable, because we don't belong to that minority?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller.

We face, at best, a presidency that could set us back fifty years in terms of civil rights, LGBTQ rights, women's rights and basic human rights. Let us remember how hard-won these rights are. People struggled and died to get us where we are today. And we need to gain much more ground before minorities truly have equal protection under the law.

At worst, we face the erosion of our democracy and its transformation into a Fascist autocracy. American exceptionalism may lead us to think, 'It couldn't happen here.' We have a constitution, a Bill of Rights; we have strong democratic institutions. Yet many, even today, do not experience all of these rights--the right to a speedy trial, for example. Our rights will last as long as we defend them, not just for ourselves but for all segments of society. Our institutions will not protect us--we need to protect them.

This time has been given to us; and it is a time to awaken soul-force, satyāgraha. Soul-force is a Gandhian concept that has become part of the American psyche through the work of Martin Luther King Jr. The Civil Rights Movement was powered by soul-force.

'Truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement 'satyagraha', that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence.'

Gandhi: Satyagraha in South Africa.

'Non-violence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering. It does not mean meek submission to the will of the evildoer, but it means putting of one's whole soul against the will of the tyrant. Working under this law of our being, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honour, his religion, his soul, and lay the foundation for that empire's fall or its regeneration.'

Excerpt from Gandhi's writings.

We see this soul-force demonstrated today by the Water Protectors who stand in peace and prayer in their fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Faced with tear gas, mace, rubber bullets, water cannon and LRAD noise bombs, they continue drumming, chanting, praying and standing their ground. The Water Protectors are willing to die to save the Missouri for all our grandchildren. This is satyāgraha.

This time has been given to us. It is a time to use our freedom of speech while we still have it; a time to assert our right to free assembly; a time to defend press freedom as reporters from prestigious media outlets shiver in the cold outside Trump National Golf Club, waiting for scraps of information. It is a time to protect our democratic institutions, not to wait for them to save us. It is a time to uphold the rule of law.

This time has been given to us. It is a time to overcome our fear, thinking of others who have more reason to be afraid. Today we all need to stand in soul-force, ready to defend our cherished freedoms. For so many, these freedoms have yet to become a reality. To allow them to be further weakened would be a catastrophe. As a nationalized citizen, I have taken a vow to defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, inner and outer. I pray that you will join me in this endeavour, for this time, a time for soul-force, has been given to us all.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

But if I am only for myself, who am I?

If not now, when?"

Rabbi Hillel, Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

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Thank you to activist Marty Rosenbluth for calling my attention to the opening quotation from Lord of the Rings.

See also my post Dear Mr. Trump, here's why you are not 'my' president. http://ma.alandiashram.org/mas_blog/2016/11/dear-mr-trump-heres-why-you-ar.html

Further reading: mostly excerpted from a list compiled by Professor Jeff Colgan of Brown University. Also see his Google Doc on Risk of Democratic Erosion https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxqZWZmZGNvbGdhbnxneDozN2RmZGMzMmEyOWRmNjM5


http://duckofminerva.com/2016/11/taking-democracy-for-granted.html

https://chartwellwest.com/2016/11/12/what-now/

http://vothspeak.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/trump-and-hitler-part-ii-shadows-of-1933.html?m=1

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/trump-victory-regime-change-lessons-autocrats-erdogan-putin

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Donald Trump | by Gage Skidmore Creative Commons

Dear Mr Trump,

You may be surprised to notice that I am not calling you 'President-elect Trump.' The reason is simple. You are not my president elect, nor will you ever be 'my' president. Let me explain why this is so.

First of all, it is not because you lost the popular vote and will become the President of these United States only because of an antiquated institution that some consider a dishonourable relic of the days of slavery. No, Mr Trump, Mr Not-my-president-elect Trump, you would not be my president even if you had garnered an Obama-style landslide.

Nor is my obstinacy based on the fact that you will implement policies such as cutting taxes for the rich--policies that in the past have only led to deepening income inequality. Much as I oppose such policies, they are standard Republican fare and would have been a looming reality even if a different Republican nominee had won the Electoral College.

It is not even because you, who own casinos, beauty pageants and a modelling agency, appear to espouse socially conservative policies so restrictive of women's liberties that they are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's dystopic novel, The Handmaid's Tale. Your own running mate and many of your former rivals for the nomination espouse similar policies, albeit with less apparent hypocrisy.

Do I refuse to acknowledge you then, because your environmental policies will lead to further escalations of climate change, raising the terrifying prospect that our own grandchildren will have no life, no future, no habitable planet? Grave as these concerns are, frightening as a Trump presidency seems for millions around the world, this situation is not in itself irremediable. It is always possible you could wake up to the urgency of the situation--if in fact you love your children and care about their future. You could become a global leader for positive change--you do not have to be the person who signs our species' death warrant--and that of countless other species.

So why do I stubbornly insist that you are not and never will be my president? My friend, I will never accept that you are my president because your campaign was based on hate. You spoke to those who suffer and gave them someone to blame--the Muslims, the Mexicans, immigrants--the Other. You ridiculed and denigrated women, minorities and disabled people, dismissing basic human decency as 'political correctness.' You have awakened the beast that sleeps within each of us and empowered him to tear apart our communities, our nation and our world.

My friend, we have seen this before. We have seen another man who inspired huge rallies and gave a hungry and humiliated nation a scapegoat for their suffering. My parents lived through those dark times of the rise of Hitler and the Second World War. Their teenage years were filled with bombs and rationing and death. Later, as young adults in the time of peace, they were determined to raise children who would stand up to the next demagogue, the next would-be fascist leader. My parents knew that there was no flaw in the German character that is not shared by each of us around the world. They knew that good people acquiesced to Hitler's increasingly dark policies in order to be proper and respectful citizens. They saw their own politicians seek to appease Hitler in a vain attempt to preserve the status quo. They taught me never to accept or acquiesce to a ruler who spoke words of hate and stirred animosity towards the other.

So you see, my friend, all my life I have been preparing to have the fearlessness to stand up to a leader such as yourself. Please don't misunderstand me. I wish you well, and I wish only the best for your supporters and those who voted for you. I understand that your rise to power is a symptom, not the problem. I know that we all desire the same thing--happiness, but we do not always know the best way to attain it. I understand that sometimes we make the fatal mistake of pursuing our own happiness at other's expense. And when we do so it creates misery for ourselves as well as others.

But, my friend, as your sincere well-wisher, as one who has pledged to defend the spirit of our constitution against all enemies, inner and outer, I will stand against the rhetoric of hate, I will stand against the 'othering' of minorities, I will fight for our liberties, for justice, for true equality, with my pen, with my voice, with my firm conviction. I will not appease nor acquiesce; I will not consent to the normalization of hate. You may be duly elected, but you will never be 'my' president.

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    This page is an archive of entries from November 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

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