With at least half our nation (well I guess half + 1, 569,824), I watched the election in stunned disbelief. Now I’m watching the aftermath for what it is asks of us. President-Elect Donald J. is everything we see, hear and feel. I won’t use even the most descriptive labels for his behavior and character. They take up too much negative space. Whatever his character and charisma, it is bringing the worst out of us. We’re glad our daughter’s middle school math students, mostly American-born of Indian, Asian, Mexican parents, had her compassionate ear in the aftermath. They are terrified. The violence and hate already given permission by the Trumpenator, now have authority. It also brings out the best. New memberships in the ACLU and numerous other institutions of resistive power are tripling already. Peaceful demonstrations in dozens of cities and towns including daily protests in Portland, Oregon mean something just and right. Even middle and high school students have variously walked out of class. Good for them and hurray for their mostly supportive parents and administrators.
An upwelling of movements for good is the way it’s going to be, if we have the courage. I’m not going to say he’s not my President. He will be my President in the same way…well…hmmmm…let’s just say in the same way that creepy Step-Uncle your Aunt married after her divorce is your Uncle by marriage so he’s part of the family even though you have no idea how she can keep him around. He comes to Thanksgiving dinner and by family policy you, your spouse, your children and their children are all very clear that no woman or child will ever be allowed to be alone with him. And under no circumstances will he be allowed to carve the ham. We will learn how to keep the family safe. We can’t ignore Trump’s power. We need to do everything within our power and policy to minimize the impact of his creepiness and violence in the realm.
On election night, we had the TV coverage going in the living room. As signs of doom invaded our certainty, I couldn’t sit down. I had to make apple pies. When they emerged steaming hot from the oven, the electoral conclusion was pretty clear. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy with pies. Theirs was a welcome smell to the sewer-gas-like-reality seeping in. I took one to our good friends and neighbors across the back fence. In that household, one of the adults was trying to talk the other down from the roof. Like other parents I talked with in the coming days, these were faced with what to say to their sons and daughters, having not been able to keep them from seeing the signs of pain and grief in their eyes. When Daddy is sitting at the dining room table balling his eyes out, it’s hard to avoid a teachable moment.
I took the other pie across the street to neighbors we’ve met but, heretofore, had only chatted with at the curb. They invited me inside their home for the first time and we shared some new moments of humanity. I am not surprised by how much people care, but sometimes I have to be reminded. We must share pies. The empty pan came back last night from across the street with a note: “Neighbors, thank you very much for the pie! No matter what our great country gets into, it is great to know we have our community!” People are going to keep reaching out to each other in new ways. We are going to have new friends we never met before. We must believe in community. And keep baking.
Stay tuned for Part 2!