I’m drawn into the voices that share their passionate grief and anger for the many innocent black people who have been killed by police sworn to protect them. Its really nothing new, but it is more visible even if it is less prominent than in the past. It still is awful and needs to be erased from our public life. And now I’m moved by the anger and sadness of many voices about the killing of police officers who were indeed trying to protect innocent lives.
But I worry deeply that passion is not enough, and that it carries us in the wrong direction. I worry deeply that the passions of these many voices reaches other like minded voices who feel sad or mad but do little more than resonate/agree. I worry deeply that we are divided into hostile camps that do not trust others outside their camps to listen. I worry deeply that within our own camps we don’t even trust each other, because we fear to disagree with each other to tone down the arguments, provide nuance, try to seek solutions.
To be more specific, there is racism here, in the police and in our society at large. There is also unwarranted poverty and insecurity. Protest illuminates it, gives us a discussable topic. But we need to trust each other enough to discuss it long enough to seek and find solutions. People who say such things are criticized, even though they may be right. Our president is criticized because he is supposed to bee too remote, dispassionate, not tough enough on people who do wrong. His is a moderate voice in a time of immoderate voices. It is hard to look for the wisdom in his measured voice, debate with him when it is so much easier to give way to anger and critique.
We need to see that we've become addicted to anger and mistrust. They are easier and become self fulfilling prophesies. We feel unsafe around others. So, we buy more guns because we can. We tweet more times to those who agree with us and each other. We build gated communities.
I think the only way out of this morass, the killings, the polarized climate, is to put trust and caring first. Their absence is lethal. If we don’t, there is no way out. Hillary, who I don't trust enough, nonetheless said it right when she said we need to listen to each other first. If we don't put that first, there is little to be done except for one group to dominate and exclude the other. So, the willingness to trust is central to our democratic ideals.
We won’t listen to others if we don’t trust them to hear us or care about us. By the same token, others wont listen to us unless they feel we trust them enough, empathize with their humanity, care about their well being. So, the keystone is to figure out how to turn around the lack of trust and caring. It will not be done quickly, but if we all declare that as a sense of common purpose, optimism can begin to grow again. Some ideas:
1. First and foremost, we need to see that things are going very badly and getting worse, for us all. We have inequality, polarization, rotting infrastructure, unemployed millions, and our incivility towards one another is making it worse, not better. If we don’t stop the fighting, where no one will win, we will all suffer and continue to suffer.
2. People in our government must admit that the lack of trust they have in each other and the people have for them is a central issue which they inflame with their bickering and thoughtless agendas. In congress trust of the people is at an all time low and it's killing the country.
3. For democrats, beginning with Hillary, admit again, loudly, that she has eroded peoples' trust in her but do something visible about it. Take counsel from wiser heads, not just Bill. Say you regret past errors like your emails and say authentically that you are sorry for so often acting like a weasel. Stop cutting corners as you did with the emails, the Clinton Foundation. No end justifies untrustworthy means in these times.
4. For republicans and democrats, too many of whom are solely interested in staying in office, not governing: Throw out the NRA, if only to say that you're independent enough. Throw out Citizens United and Gerrymandered districts so that money and self interest doesn't rule who gets into office. Invest in better education so that people are better prepared for the future; invest in mitigating climate change so there will be a future, invest in infrastructure, the roads, bridges, railroads, airports we need and which will provide so many needed jobs. The key is NOT smaller government, it is wiser government.
5. For all of us; throw out Donald Trump; repudiate what he stands for and the anger that fuels his rise to prominence. What ever the merits of some of his thinking, character and experience are crucial matters in a President. Hillary Clinton has made herself less trustworthy than she should be. She can and should correct it. Donald Trump cannot correct his gaps as a leader, because they are too big and he doesn’t admit that he has any gaps. He can be trusted to do what he thinks is right and to be open about it. But what he thinks is right is ill informed, fueled by a terribly inexperienced man who never thinks beyond his own self interest. He is selfish, naïve about his inexperience and too thin skinned and volatile to be our president.