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The Roller Coaster

The Road to Resilience

A year ago, who could have imagined that a perfect storm of discontent, fear, and blind folly would land us in the world we have today?  I’ve always said that this is one of the most exciting times to be alive, and our current scenario fits that description in spades.  The idea of excitement for me has always been something that seems scary but is actually reasonably safe, like the big plunge on a roller coaster.  What we have is the big plunge without knowing for sure that there is any track beneath us.   

One thing we know for sure is that NOBODY knows what is going to happen next, and I’m not going to be so foolish as to speculate.  I think we can maybe analyze why it happened and empower ourselves some by starting to put together a plan for how we can personally and communally address it.  

We know that fearful racists, misogynists, xenophobes, and homophobes are exultant today.   I could be very wrong, but I think the majority of the people that voted for Trump were not these people.  I think most were voting against Clinton and/or the political and major media establishment elite that she was the poster child for.  I attribute no malice to Hillary or the establishment elite that she (and we, to some extent) is part of.  I do indict them (and us) for refusing to see that there was a call for fundamental change, and insisting that they knew better than the people what was needed.  The radical notion of democracy is believing that the people, the basic rank and file, actually have the wisdom to make momentous decisions about the directions that the country is going in.  This is really a radical notion!  Rather than take their cue from the public, our educated elite pushed their own agenda, thinking that certainly the public, in a calmer state, would see it their way.  Our experiment with democracy is still in place and the people have spoken.  It is unfortunate that the only option available to throw out the status quo was an ill-prepared, unstable, egomaniac.   We know for a fact that some Trump supporters voted for Obama in the last two elections and were basically willing to throw the dice rather than continue with the status quo.   

Because of encouragement by Trump in the campaign, we can expect the fearful ones to continue to act out violently against cultural “outsiders”, but I’m hoping that they are still a marginal group in our society.  Our actions can not add to this violence.  We need to lead from a position of kindness, but with a steel hard resolve not to tolerate behavior that is not respectful of the dignity of others.  When I say “we” I really mean all of us.  Only a deluge of disapproval will drown out cultural supremacists in a peaceful and non-violent fashion.  

I just saw a Youtube video that bothered me.  A man came into a Starbuck’s announcing angrily to all that he voted for Trump.  He called the person of color that waited on him “trash” and continued to be rude and menacing to all.  Aside from one person calling him an a**hole, nobody got up and intervened!  The one that confronted him there almost instigated a fight.  If everybody got up and confronted him non-violently, the point that that kind of behavior is unacceptable would have been clear and nobody would likely have gotten hurt.  That is what we all need to do if we see someone being bullied or disrespected.   Our only strength is in numbers.  We can not afford for any of us to continue to be spectators.

That, of course, is only one of the many trials ahead for us.  We don’t know where we are headed, but I think that acting out of kindness and compassion, articulating a concrete alternative vision, and unflinching resistance to bad decisions and acts will get us where we need to go.   The rest of the world needs to know that the Trump we know now does not represent the majority of people in the US.

The second thing we need to do is what the Transition movement, and this column, have been recommending all along:  build a community that takes care of its own, build and support a strong local economy, personally become more resourceful and self reliant.  To really be resilient to chaos in the outer world, we have to have some measure of order and independence in our own community and region.

And, especially, right now, we need to show support and solidarity with people that are being targeted as hated stereotypes.  We may also have to go beyond what we used to think was sufficient in sharing our skills and resources with others.  When the foundations of society are shaken up, it’s our opportunity to remold a better world.