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Reject. Resist. Rebel.

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Early Wednesday morning, when it became clear who was going to win the election, I changed the profile picture on my Facebook page to this image. If you don’t know what it is (and how are you reading my blog without knowing what this image is? Do you know me at all?) it is the symbol of the rebellion and the resistance from Star Wars. It is supposed to represent a phoenix, a creature born in the ashes of the empire. It felt appropriate. It remains my profile picture.

I’ve taken trips through all of the stages of grief since Wednesday. This election felt very personal. I felt and still feel a great sense of betrayal that I’m not sure that I can explain adequately to my white friends even those who voted the same way as I did. Even up to the last minute, I toyed with the idea of voting third party. Ultimately I did not do so for one reason and one reason only: I am not a special snowflake. Voting is about the collective. It’s my small contribution to the community that is this nation. Yes, on paper, Jill Stein’s values line up far closer to mine than did Mrs. Clinton’s but in the end, to risk the lives of my Muslim friends, those at risk of being deported, my LGBTQ friends, and others who look like me was just asking too much. It’s not about me. It’s about us.

The sense of betrayal comes from hearing the defenses of those who voted for Trump while proclaiming loudly “I am not racist! I am not homophobic! “I am not sexist!” Even giving those people the benefit of the doubt, I have to question if they believe that the ends justify the means. At one point in the election, I began writing a blog post in which I stated that my worst fear would be a “successful” Trump presidency. Even if he makes somewhat rational decisions and the country flourishes under his leadership, what has been demonstrated is that it is okay to say anything to win, even if your words incite violence and hatred. When asked this week if he thought any of his rhetoric had gone too far, Mr. Trump bluntly replied “No. I won”. For him, the ends justify the means. I’m here to say that’s not okay. That’s not leadership. Mr. Trump played upon this country’s darkest impulses to fuel his candidacy; it’s arrogance, it’s hatred, it’s selfishness. After two winning campaigns built on hope, the population reverted back to voting our fears.

In the end, Mrs. Clinton’s biggest misstep may have been her “basket of deplorables” comment. It showed a disdain for a part of the country she desperately needed to win over. People began wearing the word “deplorable” as a badge of honor. Sit with that one for a minute, taking pride in being evil. That’s what this election drove us to.

Many will say that Mr. Trump said many things that he won’t actually do as president. While it may be true that he never intended to do some of what he promised or may not have the authority to do other pieces, I have to take the man at his word, because he has shown himself as someone that it is foolish to underestimate. I will not make that mistake again. The world of a President Trump is upon us and if he does even a fraction of the things that he promised than vigilance becomes the order of the day. Already, as he begins to create his transition team and potential cabinet, we see that makings of a regime that is homophobic, anti-science, racist, and firmly in the grasp of monied interests. He has talked about just this week dismantling the department of education, repealing the health care law (in part), deregulating the banks, shrinking the environmental protection agency, and undoing marriage equality. To me, the threat is clear.

This is an excellent time to be the church of Jesus Christ. Not the evangelical political party that votes on single issues, but the church established by a first century Palestinian living under Roman occupation. Jesus spoke more than anything else of the “kingdom of God” and we have, in our liberal zeal, weakened that language. We think it too militaristic and patriarchal to speak of “kingdoms” so we use light and fluffy language like “the kin-dom of God” or “dream of God”. I appreciate the sensibilities there, I really do, but we lose sight of the stakes. Jesus was speaking of an empire to be created in subversion of the existing one. An empire that would use a completely different set of weapons, strategies, and tactics. Jesus was talking about infiltrating the empire the way that yeast infiltrates dough and the way that mustard plants infiltrate fields. Jesus was mounting an insurrection of justice and love. Jesus was plotting a rebellion.

I reject the notion that we have to give into our worst impulses to make political change in this country. I reject the tactics of bullying and intimidation. I reject the maneuver of making others feel small so that I might feel big. I reject the idea that our greatness comes from who we exclude. I reject the notions of scarcity that drive so much of our political discourse. We are a nation of abundance, we only lack the will to share.

I will resist President Trump if he tries to make good on his campaign promises.

If President Trump decides to register all Muslims, I will register as Muslim.

If President Trump reverses marriage equality, I will officiate same sex marriages.

If President Trump enforces stop and frisk laws, I will pull over whenever I see a person of color pulled over by a cop.

If President Trump does nothing about climate change, I will plant trees and gardens everywhere I go.

If President Trump gets Rowe. V Wade overturned, I will help set up clinics where needed abortions can be done safely and without judgment.

If President Trump destroys the department of education, I will find even more ways to get involved not only in my kids’ schools but the most vulnerable schools in my area.

I will rebel.

This song from the incomparable Ms. Lauryn Hill has been in my head all week. The lyrics are:

I find it hard to say, that everything is alright
Don’t look at me that way, like everything is alright
Cuz my own eyes can see, through all your false pretenses
But what you fail to see, is all the consequences
You think our lives are cheap, and easy to be wasted
As history repeats, so foul you can taste it
And while the people sleep, too comfortable to face it
His life so incomplete, and nothing can replace it
And while the people sleep, too comfortable to face it
Your lives so incomplete, and nothing can replace it
Fret not thyself I say, against these laws of man
Cuz like the Bible says, His blood is on their hands
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say, is rebel
While today is still today, choose well
And what I gotta say, is rebel, it can’t go down this way
Choose well, choose well, choose well…
…choose well, choose well, choose well
And while the people sleep, too comfortable to face it
Your lives are so incomplete, and nothing, and no one, can replace it
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
And what I gotta say, and what I gotta say
Is rebel… rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel
Rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel, rebel
Repent, the day is far too spent, rebel… rebel!
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up…
Wake up and rebel
We must destroy in order to rebuild
Wake up, you might as well
Oh are you… oh are you satisfied
Oh are you satisfied
Rebel… ohhh rebel
Why don’t you rebel, why don’t you rebel?
Why don’t you rebel?

It was easy to feel despair on Wednesday. It was easy to fear. I was absolutely overwhelmed by emotions. But the work continues and the stakes have never been more clear. I hope for a better world for me and my friends, especially the most vulnerable of them.  I hope for a better world for our planet. I hope for a better world for my kids.

To bring us full circle, I come back to Star Wars. As excited as I was for episode 7 last year, the upcoming Rogue One feels even more like the movie we need. It is the story of the rebel group that steals the plans for the Death Star ultimately leading into the events of the original film. It’s a story of the powerless against the powerful. It is the story of the few against the many and the mighty. It is a story about hope. Because rebellions are built on hope…

 

 

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About derricklweston

Father of two. I co-host God Complex Radio, a show highlighting progressive voices in the faith community. (godcomplexradio.com) I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. I like lots of stuff. Sometimes I write about that stuff.

Discussion

One thought on “Reject. Resist. Rebel.

  1. Derrick, you are spot on about much, but you are wrong to criticize Clinton’s use of the word deplorable. I volunteered for the Democratic Club on Hilton Head in South Carolina, during the general election. We experienced almost daily, the most vulgar, homophobic, racist demonstrations, and behaviors at our doorstep, and in our very office, as we worked to get out the vote for Hillary. These were proud Trump supporters and they were absolutely, positively, utterly, and completely, deplorable. There is no other word in the English language to describe such behavior, in fact, I believe it sufficiently meets Webster and Oxford’s definition of the word. Secretary Clinton used the most respectable word possible to describe a group of people who in turn use vulgar, racial, slurs, and profanity, when trying to express themselves verbally, and on tee-shirts and signage, proudly at rallies and on television. Please don’t defend them or question her judgment on the campaign trail. A classy, educated lady who rose to every occasion, including the Al Smith dinner appropriately, with self-deprecating humor and grace, while the entire country and world devolved into into a slimy, disgusting sewer, leaving her along at the top with Barack and Michelle. Those of you with an audience and a voice need to stand behind her and stay there. Please, for the love of this country and those of us who are ignored and dismissed, don’t question Hillary’s impeccable character, grace, and judgment, in this, most egregious miscarriage of American democracy.

    Posted by hhblogangel | November 14, 2016, 1:41 am

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