Some friends of mine have responded with disappointment and disbelief at my last post. They feel that in urging people to not let themselves be distracted by Trump and asking them to focus on envisioning and building new systems instead, I’m revealing my privilege. There are people in imminent danger right now, who don’t have the luxury of turning the other cheek like I do. This is no time for civility. It’s time for action.
I agree. In fact, in many ways, this is exactly what I’ve been trying to say. So let me take another stab at it.
Over the last several months – and especially the last month after Charlottesville, the “sons of bitches” comment, revelations about his own staff using private email servers, etc. – I’ve often found myself on the brink of despair and outrage. It’s maddening to me to see such stupidity, greed, and cruelty on display on a daily basis from the highest office in our country. It’s incredibly tempting for me to jump on social media and decry this hateful and self-defeating approach to politics and society. It’s tempting to spend my time and energy making my opposition to him known to anyone and everyone.
And yet, it seems everyone is already doing this.
I consider what I would accomplish by focusing my energies on pointing out all of Trump’s flaws. I realize I would accomplish nothing – other than making myself feel better. I’d give myself a sense of relief, a sense that I had done something in the face of such senseless bullying and oppression.
I want to do more.
When I say “Stop opposing Trump” I’m not saying to not take meaningful action when there’s an opportunity to protect yourself or your community from his policies. If you have an opportunity to affect real policy change that counters his agenda – excellent. Many in our communities are indeed in imminent danger and we should do whatever we can to protect them.
What I’m saying, however, is let’s refocus our energy and intention from “opposing Trump” to “protecting our community and building a better world.” In practice, this may involve opposing Trump’s policies, but that’s not the core intention. The core intention is to address the factors that led to Trump being in power in the first place. The core intention is addressing root causes, not symptoms like Trump. It’s in building the world we want and need.
By making our actions about opposing Trump, we empower him. We give him attention. We make it about him. He controls the narrative. He controls our focus.
When we, whenever possible, push him to the margins of our attention, we take away his power. We make the conversation about our communities and the world we want to live in.
This message is for me. I feel tempted to go on social media, or the blog, and point out every which way Trump is failing us and contradicting himself. So I need to remind myself that this work has already been done, by millions of people around the country. Anyone who wants access to these arguments already has them. I don’t add anything by joining the chorus.
If I want to be a truly impactful change agent, I need to do more. I challenge myself to get beyond simply opposing Trump, to seeing and addressing the broader narratives and systems at play beyond him. This will involve immediate actions that counter his policies. But it also must be more than that, beyond that. Because if we are only focused on resisting Trump, ultimately the best we can do is simply return to the status quo before him.
We can do better. I can do better.