Monday, July 31, 2017

Comfort

FICTION
Laura knew as soon as she walked into Georgina’s bright apartment that her friend wasn’t having a good day. Georgina looked sad as she greeted Laura and led her to the brightly colored sofa.

“What’s wrong?” Laura asked.

Georgina’s face crumpled immediately.  “I just feel,” she hesitated. “Bad.”

She grabbed a kleenex while Laura waited. Laura had learned that a conversation with Georgina sometimes needed a lot of silence. Georgina dabbed at her eyes and blew her nose.

“I know it must be partly that I haven’t been taking care of myself and that always affects my mood. In fact, it could totally just be moodiness because I’ve been eating so many sweets. But really,” the tears started again, “I just don’t feel like anyone thinks I’m attractive anymore.”

Laura put her hand on Georgina’s shoulder while she buried her face in the tissue. “Why would you think that?”

“Because I’m huge,” Georgina wailed, “And no one ever tells me anymore that I look nice or I look good, even when I wear a new dress. I just don’t get anyone’s attention anymore and I know it’s because I’m fat. I’m too fat and I just keep getting fatter.”

Georgina wept and rocked back and forth while Laura put her arm further around her soft shoulders. She let her friend cry it out for a couple of minutes. Sure, Georgina was carrying an extra 60 pounds, but Laura knew it was her charm, sense of humor and intelligence that kept her numerous friends in her life. Georgina was one of the most fascinating people Laura knew and people marveled to Laura all the time how unique and wonderful Georgina was and how lucky they felt to know her.

“Georgina,” she finally murmured. “If you feel like you’re not getting as much attention as you used to, it might not be about your weight. Maybe you used to be thinner, but you also used to be younger. It might just be that you’re old.”

Georgina stopped crying, raised her head and stared at a corner of the room. “You’re just trying to make me feel better,” she said. She dried her eyes. “Do you really think it’s about my age?”

Laura nodded. “It makes more sense. A lot of young women are fat and still get plenty of attention.”

Georgina considered this, took a deep breath and let it out. “Well, there’s nothing I can do about my age. Shall we go to lunch?”

Laura smiled at her friend. “I’m glad you can still see reason. Let’s go.”

Monday, July 03, 2017

Stop the trash talk about Trump supporters

Many liberals and people on the political left think people who support Trump are idiots. We keep hoping the latest Trump tweet or "misstep" will convince people who voted for Trump that they backed the wrong guy and it's time to agitate against him. And the exasperation, if not fury, of the left grows each time Trump supporters show that they still support him.

When are we going to stop it? The conviction that people who support Trump are a bunch of idiots is insulting to the very idea of democracy. Remember how the Clinton campaign dismissed large parts of working class America and then choked on election day? We liberals and leftists who rant about the IQ of people who voted for Trump are still doing the same thing.

I know people of color who ask why we should we spend any more time listening to white people. Okay, that's a good point. It's true that since the dominant American culture is white, we've been listening to what white people think our whole lives. But have we been listening to white people like Trump voters or white people like Hillary Clinton who excluded an entire demographic from her campaign focus? To lump in people who support Trump with all the other white noise we've been listening to our whole lives is to make the mistake of saying that all white people think the same way. Obviously, they don't.

Do we really think that insulting people is how we're going to lead them toward the light of our reason? If we're going to accuse Donald Trump of antagonizing people, then it doesn't make sense for us to do the same thing. The whole country is emotional right now and I feel the same disgust and anger that many people feel, but I still don't think it's appropriate to say, tweet, write, post or yell about how stupid people are to support Trump.

How about trying to put ourselves in their shoes for a minute? Yes, I know: we people of color have been bending over backwards for white people for centuries so why should we do it again? This is why: because our country is seriously F#$%-ed up these days and we can only un-F#$% it by going above and beyond everything else we've ever attempted. Here's what it looks like from the point of view of people who support Donald Trump:

Trump has his flaws, but he's the best person to steer the United States right now. Institutions like the media have been appropriated by leftists who want the further deterioration of the things that made America the leader of democracy. Trump's the guy to shake up things up, including the government itself. 

Every time he takes on the media, he takes a stand against their attempts to sabotage our American ideals. Of course we know he's not the perfect Christian or the perfect human being, but you don't have to be a saint to be an instrument of positive change. Every time Trump does something that makes the Republicans cringe and the Democrats howl and the leftists shout "Unpresidential" and "Impeach him" it's ridiculous. He's no worse than other presidents we've had, and we've had some terrible ones. Sure, some of what he does looks a little goofy even to us, but that's not important. We don't need a "presidential" president. We need him because by the time he's done, we'll have the right people in charge and the right priorities back.

So, my liberal and leftist friends, do you see why it makes no sense to rant against Trump supporters? They aren't listening and all we're doing is raising our blood pressure. It's not that I'm against discussion. I think it is productive to discuss Donald Trump with people who might join us in opposing his policies. That can be an excellent way to connect. But the name-calling and blatant disgust for people who support Trump is dehumanizing. We're dehumanizing others in the same way that we criticize others for doing. 

The White House and many members of Congress are willing to strip millions of people of health care because they don't have the empathy to understand what it's like to be unable to get health care. Let's stop demonstrating the same lack of empathy for people who don't agree with us about whether Trump should be president. Public figures keep calling for more respect and civility. What's at the core of that is accepting everyone as a human being, worthy of taking up space in the country. Just because Trump dehumanizes us, doesn't mean we have to dehumanize him or his followers. Let's not dehumanize anyone, eh? So let's stop talking trash about Trump supporters.