If the theory of infinite parallel universes are correct, then, at some point around the time when the election began, I feel like my universe split in two, and I took the wrong exit. I feel like it’s 1984, a few years late.
War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength.
We’re now stuck in some Twilight Zone nightmare where I clearly saw the President-Elect mock a disabled reporter. It’s on tape. But he never did it. We now live in a world where the man who wanted to abolish the EPA is now going to head it. We’re listening to confirmation hearings for a billionaire woman to head up the Dept. of Education who has zero contact in her lifetime with public schools. And Christians put a man in power who will not heal the sick, not feed the poor, not house the homeless, and who lies compulsively.
When Muslim extremists bombed the World Trade Center, people wanted to know where the outrage was from the Muslim community. But now that we stand on the precipice of registering Muslims as if they were Jews in 1939 Germany, now that we have a man installed into power who, instead of loving the poor, considers them losers, now that we have a man whose possessions are already being unpacked in our White House, who is so blatantly un-Christian–where is the outrage from Christians?
I grew up in a Christian home, went to CCD, read the Bible cover to cover. I know Christianity, and folks, this ain’t it. Or maybe it is…just in a new incarnation. The new incarnation of Christianity isn’t about love and giving. It’s about stuffing your wallet, stepping on the guy on the rung below you, and letting people freeze to death on the streets. It’s about rebranding the love of Christ into a dog-eat-dog paradigm where mercy is anything but a virtue.
And during this process, hate has been emboldened, dignified by the leader of the free world and his everyday behavior. And that, dear reader, is directed at nearly everyone, atheists included. Evidence no longer matters. Facts don’t matter to them. Education is for elitist snobs who just don’t get the common man. Good works aren’t of value–but giving lip service that you’re in the Club of Christ will get you advantages you don’t even deserve.
Because being a Christian is no longer about believing in Christ. It’s part go along to get along, part how can I benefit, part social climb, all money grab, all power grab. It’s a label to show one deserves preferential treatment, it’s a way to get votes, it’s a way to manipulate others into bending to your will.
And then there’s all the atheists in my life. Like anyone else, I hang out with people who reflect my values. That is not to say I don’t have friends of faith, I do. But they practice kindness and compassion, and when it comes to rejecting others of no faith, or because of things that conflict with their faith, they don’t take the bait. They refuse to hate, even if their elders tell them to. And I get that some people need religion, the harsh reality of our lives on this speck of dust hurtling through space and time is too much for most people. But for whatever reason, most of my friends are atheist, or at least don’t care enough to spend any time on religion. And it’s clear that they believe this is their one life, because they are the ones in my circle who are the most giving, the ones who try to solve problems the most, the ones who realize what you leave behind is your legacy. Atheists have no desire to go to war, have no desire to blow up the society to prove a point.
So, in my new Opposite World, standing up to the Trump supporters in my own family has resulted in the ending of a great many relationships. Because even though I’m not religious, it’s still important to me to be honest, and I realized today that I can no longer chat amicably with them about their new garden or their kids’ grades, when we have much more important issues that we’re ignoring–because we’re family. I can’t tell my own kids to tolerate a grandfather who says the n-word all the time, or the aunts and uncles who blame minorities for the fact that they chose not to leave an economically dying area. When I go along to get along, I become an enabler. And while tonight I doubt anyone over there is shedding any tears over my departure from their lives (they tend to go straight to blaming he other party for everything), I feel as if I have shed an old, dirty, sick layer of skin. I don’t have to pretend anymore that I think they’re good people. Yes, they love their kids and pay their taxes, but they are, at the same time, passing this poison on to their kids. They shouldn’t get comfort and support and companionship from me, friendship or tacit approval. I have to decide there are some views that are deal-breakers for me. I have to set that bar, even while they move their bars lower. And yes, there were consequences. These people are gone now. And if it were all bad, it would be a no-brainer. But our kids our cousins, went to each other’s birthday parties, danced in their grandma’s kitchen together on Christmas. We’ve hugged these people hundreds of times. Worked on each other’s houses, ate together. These are not tendrils that were severed. They were vines that grew through decades.
The worst part about this is that I knew. I knew years ago how they thought. Who they hated. Tried to disenfranchise. It took this election to make me realize that I had to take responsibility for letting all that slide. I had to look at myself and acknowledge that I hadn’t adhered to my own standards, because I didn’t want people mad at me. I didn’t want to make waves. And they assumed that because I was as white as them that talking with me was their discriminatory safe space. The only one to blame for creating that perception is me. That’s over now. People change, and I am always opened to changed people. But unless that happens, I am always aware that I have a finite amount of time left on this hurtling speck of dust. I need to spend it with people who lift each other up, who love, who problem solve, who move forward toward cooperation and equality.
There is no wiggle room with a Trump voter. Already, they’re getting a severe case of buyer’s remorse, and so they’re all trying to back away from their candidate’s ever-worsening behavior. They don’t want to be responsible. So, they take a cafeteria approach. They say they’re not racist, not homophobic, they don’t want to kick out all Muslims. No! They voted for him because he’s a businessman! Well, you also voted for the man who put a white nationalist in charge of the press. You voted for the man who called Mexicans rapists. You voted for the man who wants deportation forces to go house to house to pull people out onto the street, to banish them. You elected the man who doesn’t take Putin’s cyber hacking seriously. You elected the man who will sign the repeal of healthcare for nearly 30 million people, causing deaths that didn’t need to happen. You elected the man who ridiculed a disabled reporter. And the people he is putting up for his cabinet are as bad or worse, and he knows it. He calls detractors losers, while the next hour pledging unity. Trump voters cannot cherry pick their reasons for endorsing him. They cannot plead ignorance in an age where everyone has access to the Internet. Everyone could see him laughing that if his supporters beat up protestors, he’d pay for their lawyers. Everyone can pull up the video of him ridiculing the reporter. Then the video of him lying about it. Trump voters must be made to accept responsibility for what they’ve done, just as the ancillary players, Russia, the FBI, and the alt-right will hopefully be taken to task for theirs.
Because in Opposite World,
War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength…
…and the atheists are the ones who feed, heal and love.