Posted by: minnow | December 17, 2016

I Do Not Believe

That’s not a very popular thing to say this time of year.  As a little girl learning Santa and the Easter Bunny weren’t real changed my perspective.  One Easter Mom simply made the announcement: the Easter Bunny wasn’t coming to our house any more.  I didn’t believe her. So, Easter morning I got up and hunted for treats in all the usual places, but Mom was correct; he’d quit coming.  I probably already knew the Easter Bunny and Santa were Mom and Dad but my spirit was bruised a little anyway. Santa still showed up the following December (Mom was a bigger fan of the Christmas traditions than the Easter ones ), but the season had lost its magic.

As a parent, I wanted the joys of the holidays to last for my children. I also was against intentionally lie to them.  So, I told my children lots of stories about Santa.   We enjoyed secretly filling stockings on Christmas Eve and hiding eggs for Easter morning. Our fun lasted well beyond the time our children might have quit “believing”.  In fact, all the way to adulthood my children filled one another’s stockings in secret and took turns wearing a Santa or elf hat to hand out presents Christmas morning.  But, this post isn’t actually about the pros and cons of telling your children Santa is real.  It isn’t even about childhood disappointments though that comes a little closer.

The truth is, a foundation from my childhood has been pulled out from under me and I feel like I’m toppling over.  I’m not talking about a childhood fairytale most children simply grow out of believing as they mature, like Santa Claus. I’m talking about my faith in America.  A fundamental piece of my identity has crumbled and I don’t know how to stand straight anymore.  Those who stand up straight are usually proud of something, confidant, and ready to face the day. I don’t feel at all ready and I am certainly not proud.

I was taught though she has faults America was basically good.  We were birthed during a revolution to end tyranny.  We stood against a monarch who saw tax revenues instead of people.  Brother battled brother to preserve a Union and to free the slaves.  We joined our friends in Europe and defeated Hitler and the Nazis, madness and fascism.  We lost JFK, and King, and Bobby, but the Civil Rights Act was passed, and the Voting Rights Act was passed, and separate but equal was debunked. We resisted communism, saw a wall come down, and the break up of the U.S.S.R. When America witnessed oppression, discrimination, and intolerance she put on her white hat and went to the rescue.  We were the beacon of freedom and justice for all.  Even if it meant doing battle with ourselves, as a nation we banded together, looked to the greater good, the truth that would serve the whole, and righted the wrong.  That was the America I believed would prevail, the America I trusted, the America I pledged my allegiance to.  That was the America of my childhood.  But today that America stands broken, like me, she looks to be toppling over.

After 50 plus years of believing in a dream, I have woken up. What I’ve awakened to is not a good nation with flaws we can overcome by majority rule or by ignoring them as we’ve done in the past, but rather a fragile framework which depends entirely on the good character of her people, including her leadership but not exclusively, to function as she was designed to function.  If we the people are not willing to stand for more than our own self interests, if we the people are not willing to see the “other” as deserving, if we the people are not willing to look in the mirror and be repulsed by the greed, the bigotry, and the fear staring back at us, if we the people are not willing to do the work to change what is wrong, our national integrity–that which is good–will not survive.

Before Trump, I could tell myself we were taking steps in the right direction. Small steps to be sure, and for those waiting to be recognized painfully slow steps, but steps never the less.  Today, the veil has been ripped.  The election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence followed by Trump’s assault via advisors and cabinet picks on the principles and values I thought were American makes it impossible to believe anyone but the very wealthy will benefit from a future America.

The religious right and the white working class who supported Trump are in for a rude awakening. Deals like Trump’s Carrier bribe will provide some camouflage, but until Americans are working for nothing like their overseas competition, the working class will continue to loose ground in terms of jobs.  As more Unions are broken, wages will freeze.  Re-training programs will stagnate or never materialize.  The safety nets for the unemployed will disappear and those young enough will likely be funneled into the military or turn to crime.  Privatized prisons will provided an unpaid labor force, the new indentured servants.  NGO’s, including religious organizations, will be expected to pick up the slack in order to care for the poor and disabled. And, while Donald Trump will placate the religious right as long as it benefits him to do so, his current alliance should not be misunderstood as a submissive embrace.  Trump submits to no one, including God.

The biggest difference between Trump’s America and Hitler’s Germany is: America’s military has nukes and we already spend several times more on our military than our closest adversary, which until recent events was Russia.  With regard to our Second Amendment rights, I’ve always said our guns are no match  for the fire power of our own government.  Today I will add, do not be surprised if it’s a President Trump who decides who can own a gun and who cannot.

THIS is not my America. But all too soon, it could be the nation in which I live.  I pray I am wrong.


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