Many asking how to heal after Trump victory
In the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s victory, many people are asking how they can heal.
Perhaps, a way to begin would be to listen to each other.
Really listen to each other. In a non-judgmental, respectful way, in a way where we really, truly try to understand, for a moment what it’s like to be in their shoes.
Whoever “they” are – Trump supporters, Clinton supporters, white, black, Muslim, Latino, Asian, male, female, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer. Imagine, for a moment, being “that” for a while.
And stay in the present, not the past, not the future. Stay here and see what happens, moment to moment.
This is a summary of the message and its similar variations religious leaders throughout Delaware County were imparting upon their flocks in one of the most divisive times in American history that saw an aftermath filled with hate messages and actions from spray-painted swastikas to middle school children chanting, “Build a Wall” to attacks on minorities, Muslims and women and thousands taking to the street, some burning the American flag, protesting the election of the 45th president of the United States.
It was a week of unrest where many couldn’t even imagine where do we go from here.
“In America the choice now, must be to transform the conflict into acceptance and mutual harmony,” Rabbi Barry Blum of Congregation Beth ElNer Tamid in Broomall said at a special service his synagogue held Friday evening for the healing of the country.
He spoke to the tumult of the election season and reminded participants that the donkey of the Democrats and the elephant of the Republicans are both flawed beasts.
“Now, the healing process must begin and our divided nation must unite,” Blum said. “Families and friends that occasionally become entangled by believing in certain principles of their favorite candidate must now unite for the greater good.”
The Rev. Ethel Guy, pastor of Linwood Heights Methodist Church in Lower Chichester, said the best way for that to occur was through respectful conversation.
“If we don’t listen to each other and share in an atmosphere of trust, we will never solve anything,” she said. “Be proactive in holding out a hand in friendship and fellowship. Reach out, see the other person as an equal child of God the way Jesus did and above all, listen.”
She urged all people to find a community, such as a church, to have authentic conversations with the intent of understanding.
“One of the problems is we are all safe behind our computer screens,” she said, but in order to heal, she added we must find safe forums where we can all share honestly. “We are not on this Earth to judge. It’s not our job to judge. Let’s go forward from here.”
She said she understood that many people from various backgrounds, no matter who they voted for, are afraid.
“We’re afraid of going backwards, afraid of losing the freedoms we have,” Guy said. “We just have to push forward and do it. The sun comes up every day and God is going to lead us into the future but we have to do it with preconceived notions.”
Shelly Rahman, a Newtown Square woman who was a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention and who is a Muslim, agrees.
She moved to the United States in 1974 from Bangladesh and she is processing her candidate’s loss, but respects the process and is trying to understand others’ views.
“No matter how I look, no matter what is my accent, this is my home,” she said.
“Democracy is still the best way,” Rahman said. “It’s very clear, the majority wanted Donald Trump. You have to accept it. I may not like him, I may not like to watch him on the TV. The loss, it is hurting me, that’s the reality.”
She said that’s a feeling those who did not support President Barack Obama can relate to.
“When Obama came, they were upset,” Rahman said.
As she scrolls through her Facebook feed, she said she found herself in disagreement with some.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘All Trump supporters are racists,’” she said. “I’m saying, ‘No, absolutely not.’”
If they were all racist, she contended, Obama would not have gotten elected into office.
“People are suffering so they are willing to take change,” Rahman said. “Our leaders on both sides seem like they are out of touch of the reality and the people.”
She spoke of a friend of hers from Long Island, New York, who told her of a visit to the upstate portions of that state where houses were deteriorating.
She said one belief is that the government and politicians are always giving priorities to minorities.
“Nobody … talks about the rural people and they are suffering and they feel left out,” Rahman said. “Think about all those rich politicians from either party, have they ever had a rally there?”
Trump, she said, has touched their heart.
“If he’s not successful,
the country is not successful,” Rahman added.
The Rev. Joseph Corley, pastor of Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Darby, agreed.
“You have to give the guy a chance,” he said. “I just want to wait and see what happens.”
Throughout his time, the priest said he’s seen many candidates make campaign promises that don’t come to fruition.
Corley said he was trying to remain optimistic that the hate acts that are being reported represent a small minority.
“I’m hoping that what you see and hear on the media is not representative of the major part of our country,” he said. “I’m hoping what we see on TV, I’m hoping that’s less than 10 percent of our country.”
One thing he said that’s been a shared experience for many was the disappointment in both candidates.
Prior to the election, he said a common theme was “I don’t know who I’m going to vote for.”
Now, Corley said he will give President-elect Donald Trump a chance.
“As a Christian, I pray that this man makes good choices and good decisions,” he said. “I have to support the decisions that are helpful.”
For those that are not, he said, “You have a right to say you don’t like what’s going on.”
That being said, Corley said we all must remain present.
“Don’t predict the future,” he said. “Live in the present. You persevere, you try to be loving and you try to be fair. Don’t predict the future. Don’t cling to the past. Take it a day at a time.”
He, too, said he prayed for a time, a way when we can engage each other in conversations, expressing our opinions, our experiences in meaningful ways that respect each other as we try to bridge understanding to eradicate name-calling of any group, to find and relate to our common humanity.
Two months ago, Father Corley, who has served as chaplain for the Darby Borough police, was asked to participate in a discussion with other clergy in his town.
“I was very concerned because the folks asked me to speak about community relations and beliefs,” he said. “I was nervous.”
Corley said in his research prior to the meeting, he found information about how the police need to improve but found a lack of materials for how the communities can better themselves.
This discussion was taking place in the midst of the violence across the country against police in the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the deaths of minorities in interactions with law enforcement.
He said he felt put into a precarious situation, similar to a dynamic he saw repeated in the election.
If people were voting for Trump, he said, they were afraid of being branded as racists. If people were voting for Clinton, they were accused of not caring that she lies.
“When can we disagree without calling each other racist?” Corley asked. “I think that’s been lost with all the anger and fear.”
He said all sides will cry loudly about respect but often that equates to not being able to disagree.
At the meeting, Corley said through respectful, meaningful dialogue the participants came to a conclusive consensus that indeed all lives matter.
“I pray for the day where I can disagree with someone,” the priest said. “Can we just disagree without the hating?”
The Rev. Joseph Corley, pastor at Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Darby Borough, believes citizens must be willing to give President-elect Donald Trump a chance.
Shelley Rahman cast an enthusiastic vote for Hillary Clinton during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia back in August.