JOY, BUT A LITTLE TEMPERED
On the day after the November 2016 election, I was asked by a friend how to deal with Trump’s win. I said he is now our President, and we should hope for his success because if he succeeds it will be good for our country. Then immediately upon taking office, he announced the Muslim ban, later stricken by the courts, then resurrected in a new form designed to skirt the legal issues. And as soon as he did, I knew I could no longer hope for his success, but rather had to work for his defeat. I put a bumper sticker on my car that said “RESIST” and spent four years doing whatever I could.
Today, while I am overjoyed that what I consider a four year national nightmare has ended, I also can’t avoid this sobering thought. Biden has reversed the Muslim ban. Which must mean that there are now many Americans who are the mirror image of me four years ago, people who wanted to start out giving Biden the benefit of the doubt, but who are now wondering if they can because they believe that travelers from these banned countries pose a threat to them and their families.
Let us all hope and pray that no one travels from one of these countries in the days to come and commits a horrible act of violence, and let us hope and pray that history ultimately concludes that Biden’s act was enlightened, not short-sighted.
And in our moment of joy, let’s be mindful that we have fellow Americans who are hurting because of the very changes we are celebrating. And whether they are bigots who we hope will learn to “love thy neighbor” or loving people who just have genuine fears about their safety, we will be a better country and a better people if we temper our own joy a little and remember how it felt when we were feeling so disappointed. I think Biden’s message of unity demands this of us. Not that we abandon what we believe is right, but that we respect and have compassion for our political other and try to say and do things that lessen, not expand, the divide.