Keeping the dream alive

Luke Mehall - 12/08/2016

I almost lost a friendship over something I wrote in the aftermath of the election. Like many, I was super angry over Trump’s victory – and I’m still angry to be honest. I just can’t believe a person who has said what he’s said and represents what he represents will be president of the United States.

Trump is a liar and an immoral and pathetic man. (I can say that about our president-elect because of the First Amendment to our Constitution, by the way.) I can also burn a flag if I want to. I never will, out of respect for veterans who have fought or died protecting this country and what that flag means to them. But I could be- cause of our First Amendment, one I expect myself to defend quite a bit in the up- coming four years.

The reason this friend of mine and I were at odds is because of a Facebook post I made the week fol- lowing Trump’s victory. It was actually a response to many of my friends who said that they wished to unfriend all their contacts who voted for Trump. I felt the opposite, I didn’t wish to unfriend those people, I just simply couldn’t conceive anyone in my close circle of friends voting for Trump.

My post read, “People are saying they wish to unfriend their Trump-supporting friends, but I think I want to understand, really understand your ‘kind’ because you are not the same type of people as ‘my people.’ I was raised to believe that we are all created equal, and that we should treat one an- other as we wish to be treated ourselves. I was brought up and taught that Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero. He would not be proud of our country right now, and neither am I. My journey as a human and writer will change with this historic event, and I will ‘fight the good fight.’ I promise.”

My friend read this post and was very upset. She interpreted it that I no longer wished to have her in my circle of friends because she voted for Trump. She shared with me that she no longer feels comfortable with “my people.” And, she said all of this made her feel shitty and lonely.

We went back and forth for a while in private messages, but everything boiled down to one thing for me: I would not back down on the point that if you support Trump, you support racism. She did not appreciate this and expressed regret for reaching out to me. That saddened me, because I’ve always liked this woman. She’s supported my work, and I attended her wedding. In short, we never would have had this conflict if it weren’t for President Pussy Grabber.

Now nearly a month later, my pure unadulterated anger has subsided into, “what can I do for the cause?” And what is the cause? Well, it’s continuing to embrace an America that unites over our diversity and does not divide over it. The cause is ensuring that women have control over their own reproductive systems. The cause is

continuing the message that it is OK to be homosexual or transgender. The cause is preserving important and sacred environmental lands from destruction. The cause is protecting freedom of speech. The cause is freedom of religion. The cause is freedom in general, because if there is any greater threat to freedom, it is the next president of the United States, a man who doesn’t even have basic knowledge of our Constitution. How messed up is that?

I realize that I am a dreamer. Perhaps it is the era in which I grew up. I think everyone embraces something they were told in their childhood, even if contrary evidence surfaces in their adult life. For some its certain religious concepts, for me it is the words I learned from Martin Luther King.

Since the election, and wondering where I go from here as a writer, I have been spending some time with King’s autobiography. If I had to pick one hero, it would be King, which is interesting because he was deeply

religious, and I am not. But we both believe in the power of love, spirituality and the importance of fighting against unjust laws and evil leaders. Thus far, I have done very little as an activist. King gave his life to his cause, and he did it because he knew he had to fight against evil.

Donald Trump is evil. His supporters who use his rhetoric as cause for violence and hatred are evil. But, not everyone who voted for him is evil. I know my friend is not. She is a good human being. She ex- pressed to me that she had to vote on the issues and not the candidate.

Almost a month went by and I could not get the conversation out of my head. Did I really want to lose a friendship over politics? Especially when I know in my heart that my friend is a good person?

Last Friday, on my 38th birthday, I was feeling a lot of love. From friends to family, I realized how much I had to be grateful for, that I am who I am because of the people who love me. And, in the middle of that day, I knew I needed to apologize to my friend, to reach out to ask if we can continue to be friends, if we can agree to disagree. After I wrote her she quickly replied back, she said of course we can still be friends. My heart feels lighter knowing our friend- ship is still intact.

Looking out into America’s future seems really bleak right now. I am an optimist, yet I don’t feel any optimism. In my heart, it seems as though fear and hate are winning above God and love. I fear for the historically disenfranchised. I fear for our relationships around the world. I fear for women’s rights, for the environment. I fear that fake news is winning, and that evil is moving into the most powerful position in the world.

May all of us who believe in justice, love and equality rise up to fight this tidal wave of hate and fear that is now directly above our heads.