by Karen Topakian
In the week since the US Presidential election, I received several FB messages from friends and read many blog posts urging me to reach across the aisle to understand why people voted for the President-elect. I’ve been asked to put my feelings of despair and anger aside and listen with an open heart and mind to supporters of the President-elect who proposes racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, xenophobic and homophobic policies. I’m not there yet.
I’m not ready to reach out to ask why they voted for a person endorsed by the Klan.
I’m not ready to sit across the table from someone who thinks discussions about sexually assaulting women are common among men and only “talk.”
I’m not ready to inquire without judgment about how someone could support a candidate who relentlessly and without foundation questioned the birthright of the president because he is Black.
I’m not ready to offer an olive branch to someone who chose a candidate who threatens unconstitutionally to ban people of a particular religion from entry into the United States.
I’m not ready to hold hands with someone who elected a candidate who wants to punish/jail women who seek abortions.
I’m not ready to break bread with someone who voted for a candidate that proposes limits on a free press.
I’m not ready to sing Kumbaya with someone who undermined our electoral process by charging that the election was rigged, until he won.
I’m not ready to listen to someone tell me that they too found these statements troubling and disturbing but voted for him anyway because he’s a good businessman or because he promised their job back or because they hate Washington.
My Christian upbringing, upon which I rarely rely, urges me to do just this – turn the other cheek as Jesus did. But I ain’t no Jesus.
The Bible also tells me not to judge or I will be judged. But I’ve already been judged as “less than” by his voters who don’t value and respect women’s lives or choices.
My deep belief in the power of nonviolence suggests I practice compassion with my adversaries. I’m not there yet. I don’t feel compassion for people who prefer a bigot. For people who chose a demagogue.
The possibility that all of his supporters don’t feel this way doesn’t trump my fear of loss that everything I work so hard to create – a just, equitable and peaceful planet – can and will be undone by a few strokes of his pen or by votes in a one party Congress or by the soon-to-be conservative Supreme Court.
I’m not looking for revenge; I don’t wish his voters and supporters ill will. I just don’t want to talk to them. And I don’t want to understand their decision. I don’t want to feel their pain. Not yet. Because mine is too deep.