I watched President Obama's final address last night. I was very emotionally moved by it. I remember the joy I felt 8 years ago when he won his first term. He was so classy, he had such vision, he was articulate. He was BLACK. He was from Chicago. He was proof to my children that anyone of any color can reach for the stars and grab hold of them.
Throughout his administration I was never ashamed of the actions of his administration. He spoke and acted with thought. His kids weren't in the news for doing things they shouldn't. His wife, was the most amazing First Lady of my remembered life time. His presidency was for me, how my parents felt about JFK.
His closing address never wavered from that bar of civility and class that he set so very high from day one. He didn't encourage negative sounds from the crowd when talk turned to the new administration. No "going low" he "went high" all the way.
I have great fears surrounding the Trump presidency. I worry that he will surround himself with people whose sole purpose is to dismantle the freedoms that have been so hard won for so many. I worry that those all ready marginalized will be even more so. I worry for those whose health care while imperfect, has been far better with the Affordable Care Act. I worry for the rights of women to choose freely what happens to their own bodies. I worry that as a country we will no longer be seen as wise and--well--important to the rest of the world. I worry that wrong choices by those in power will ultimately be a financial and environmental price that are paid for by my children.
Yet worrying can do little. So I try to spend a small amount of time acknowledging these concerns, validating their realness. I spend a lot more time, figuring out what I can do. How i can live my life in a positive meaningful way that lives out my personal values, and that does what i can to ensure the rights of others.
Part of that will happen Monday afternoon and evening as the kids and I volunteer with the United Way to package food for those who would not eat other wise. A staggering number of children are "food insecure" in our country. I personally know what it is like to wonder when you will eat next. I remember hiding the fact that I didn't really have food in my house when I first went out on my own. I didn't want others to know that all I had was one bag of potatos and food for my cat. To this day, a full pantry makes me smile and feel safe. There are too many people without that feeling of safety. I can help. I can teach my kids that they can help, that when we have enough to get by we can and should reach out and give a little more to those who don't.
My other take away was that I need to have more conversations with the people who don't believe as I do. This is harder for me than volunteering and giving of myself. I don't like arguments. I don't like listening to words that sound hateful, or bigoted or flat out illogical. Additionally I live in one of the bluest of the blue states. I think that the only Trump supporters I have actually met can be counted on one hand. But I may be wrong. Maybe they are as afraid of dialogue as i have been and we have been politely ignoring each other, to our detriment.
I know I can not support the ideology of this adminstration, but I need to understand those who did. We all need to. Because if it really was out of work white workers who were Trump supporters, or gray haired ladies who remembered the 50s fondly or whatever, we need to talk. I need to know how they think this will be better. I need to know what CAN be better,with or without a Trump. I think that is the only way we can move forward, toward that illusive "greatness" that became a slogan in a campaign that will be remembered for years to come.