Uncertainty, Heartbreak, and Hope: Post Election Thoughts

Since Wednesday morning, I have been providing unanticipated and impromptu pastoral care to several people in our community and to complete strangers who came seeking solace, comfort, and hope at our church.

I have watched tears fall; I have listened to stories of violence, threats of violence, and acts of terror perpetrated against people I know and love. I have felt the fear and rage from those who are at the highest risk, those who have the most to lose in the coming years.

Many of us here today have been traumatized by the events of this past week. As we, in this community, each grieve in our own way, at our own rate, via our own coping mechanisms… I offer this plea: Love one another. Be kind to one another. Hold space for one another. Be not quick to judge one another. Remember, we are in this together. And we need each other now, more than ever.

As we look to the future, there are things we know, and things we don’t know. As it relates to exactly what a Trump presidency is going to look like, I believe there is actually far more uncertainty than certainty at this point. And in that uncertainty there is at least some measure of hope.

Our President Elect has demonstrated over the past several decades that he is a… mercurial… and protean figure. That’s the nice and fancy way of saying he’s a bit of a flip-flopper. The path from campaign promises to actual policies is long and fraught. The President Elect, should he choose to follow through on certain campaign promises, will encounter substantial political and constitutional impediments. In other words, the Trump presidency may not be as bad as we fear.

However, I don’t want to paint the future as less dangerous than it really is. There are certain campaign promises that are very much within the President Elect’s power, and should those promises be kept, people within this community—along with people we know and love outside this community—will be in danger.

Uncertain days lie ahead. But we Unitarian Universalists—our theological foundation is built on uncertainty. We have no specific doctrine about the existence or non-existence of God. We have no specific doctrine about the existence or non-existence of an afterlife. We have no specific doctrine to tell us what to think about figures like Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed. What I’m saying is, our very faith has prepared us to face the challenges of this uncertainty. In this time, we UUs are uniquely positioned to lead with resiliency and courage and love. We were born for such a time as this.

But… there are also some certainties we are already facing and must not overlook. After last Tuesday, our world has certainly become a far more intolerant, and a far more dangerous place. Specifically for people of color—brown and black especially—immigrants—both documented and undocumented—Muslim Americans, Americans descended from predominantly Muslim countries, Jewish Americans, members of the LGBTQ community, and women who prefer not to be grabbed by strangers. Even if campaign promises do not become actual policy, the health and safety of these marginalized communities are already at greater risk. Many have already been threatened, and attacked, and terrorized by individuals and hate groups who have been emboldened by the Trump campaign. Across the country, we have seen a frightening spike in the number of hate crimes targeting the marginalized.

This week has shown all of us that this country is far more racist, far more homophobic, far more misogynistic, than many of us realized or were prepared to admit. Now, many Americans who voted for Trump did so not because of conscious or explicit racism or homophobia or sexism, but for other, more “legitimate” reasons…. But this is the heart-wrenching lamentation I have heard this week from those living at the margins: They feel betrayed by their fellow Americans, because those who supported Trump did not find the clear and present danger his presidency posed to the marginalized as automatically disqualifying. Perhaps they voted for Trump for economic reasons… or because Hillary was a flawed candidate… but in casting that vote for Trump, half of voting Americans demonstrated that they were willing to accept the immense collateral damage aimed directly at black, brown, gay, trans, Muslim and Jewish Americans. At immigrants and women.

The pain and the hurt from that betrayal has divided this nation, and the path to unity will be a long and hard one… and not one that we must run towards too quickly. As a nation, clearly, we have some issues that need to be addressed and resolved before real healing can begin.

As the Rev. Dr. King reminded us in his letter from the Birmingham jail… there are those in this nation more devoted to peace and harmony and “order” than they are to justice…. But there is no true peace without true justice, first. And there will not be true peace and harmony and order in this country, until all are treated with the equality and justice that is the birthright of every child of creation.

I affirm the recent sentiments of Secretary Clinton and President Obama who have called on Americans to come together in this time of great division… but NOT at the expense of denigrating the inherent worth and dignity of ANYONE.

As a church, we must stand together to bring an end to hate; and we must protect those within our community—and those outside of it—who are in the most danger. Beginning here and now: We are the resistance. Any governmental policy, any action of private citizens that threatens the health and safety and the basic human rights of our loved ones who live at the margins will be met with our fierce resistance.

Our pursuit of justice and equality means something very different now following the results of Tuesday’s election. The stakes are much higher for all of us. The risks are far greater. The danger is more real… as is the danger of failure.

But in this… we will not fail. It is still my fervent belief that in the end, Love wins. I am honored to serve with each of you in that pursuit.

Thank you, amen, and blessed be.