Time to stand

(To my family and friends:  What follows is not my normal post, nor does it represent my intent for this trip.  But this extraordinary time and unprecedented election has not left room for norms or my intentions)

I think I was about 12 years old when I saw the original ‘Jackie Robinson Story’.  You might remember that Jackie Robinson played himself and even though it was filmed in 1950, it represented a significant attempt to record the bigotry and challenges he faced as first black major league baseball player.  It would have been a Sunday.  We only had over-air TV and the Sunday Matinee Movie started at two o’clock.

What I remember was what you would expect.  The scenes when this dignified and stoic man was verbally accosted from the stands.  But as I recall, my 12 year old reaction was not directed at the bullies.  I understood bullies.  I had recently moved from California to Michigan and was a particularly awkward adolescent, who, if my new classmates were to be believed, resembled something of a primate.  No, what I remember wondering about were the other grown ups.  The ones who stood in the stands with the bullies.  Weren’t they just as bad?  Wasn’t their silence an indictment of the whole stadium?

So today I received two emails from two family members.  One explained, along with poignant photos of soldiers embracing their families, that the ACLU had filed suit to eliminate prayer from the military. Involuntary eye roll, debunk on Snopes, copy, paste, send.  Then came another one explaining that, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, ‘little Shakiel’ answered, a ‘welfare recipient’.  The email went on to present reams of data, by state, of welfare benefits to be had (you can make over $60,000 a year in Hawaii and not work a day).  For an added kicker, it listed all the pension money and benefits that Nancy Pelosi and others will be enjoying ‘for life’,  It took a little more than Snopes on this one (suffice it to say, the Cato Institute featured heavily), but debunk1, debunk2, copy, paste, send.

Ah, technology.  It is the final irony that the easier it is to research information, the more people cling to concepts and beliefs that validate their worse instincts.  I used to think that the correct response was simply to supply data, apply logic and engage in discourse.  It may not be that simple.  For three national elections in a row, I have travelled across this country and recorded the fears that brought me these two emails.  Christians convinced that their religion is under attack.  People tired of their tax money supporting immigrants and lazy people who simply want not to work.  Feelings so deep that facts cannot and do not impede.

Yesterday I wrote about the lifelong pattern of cruelty that defines Donald Trump for me.  Applying the same measure to Hillary reveals a lifetime of unrelenting public service.  Imperfect.  Flawed.  But consistent and dogged.

So I ask you this.  When do we stop sitting quietly in the stands? We have watched Hillary for over 30 years in this game of politics.  We have watched as investigation after investigation have revealed little or no wrong doing.  It is clear the scrutiny has resulted in a defensiveness that we all might agree is understandable, if not prudent.  The emails reveal that Hillary has behaved like a politician and we collectively clutch our pearls.  When do we give full voice to what we see in front of us?

Our silence risks giving this election to a bully who has shown a willingness to not only destroy his competitors, but the game itself.  Stand up.  Stand up for Hillary, the ACLU and little Shakiel’s everywhere.


Time to stand — 9 Comments

  1. We are all primates. Literally, of course. But in a deeper, metaphorical sense, too.

    “Taking a Stand” – do I sense a shift from Journalistic Observation to Editorial Advocacy?

  2. Yes, we need to be “upstanders” when people around us behave badly and treat others with disrespect. Hard to do, though, I would imagine, surrounded by thousands of people who you assume agree with the people who are being disrespectful and mean. It takes a lot of courage but that’s what’s needed, and will be needed, in the coming months.

    And…. on the fact-checking / debunking…

    I wish we could get to the point where, instead of someone sending along something about how much money retired members of Congress get, or how living on welfare can be luxurious, I would get something that said “I’m really feeling stretched to the limit right now, and I just blew a tire and was late for work, and I’m working so hard and getting nowhere… and am frustrated. And, I feel like other people all around me are taking advantage of me and taking advantage of the system!” No Snopes needed on that! Empathy, working together to overcome each person’s difficulties, community, friends, family, and YES… government, can make a positive difference. But first, we truly have to listen to each other, not rhetoric, data, statistics, positions, but hear each other’s stories to understand the lens through which each of us is experiencing the world.

    Listening to each other’s stories is critical. Our friends Len and Libby Traubman have worked for many years to help people do just that and are planning an event in January to get people to tell and listen to each other’s stories in San Mateo.


    Thanks, Julie, for traveling the country and listening to people and sharing what you hear. I can’t wait until you get home and we can hear more stories in person!

  3. Yes!! An editorial indeed. I don’t know anyone who unconditionally listens to people’s stories better than you. You not only listen and hear, but you hear without judgement and with empathy! Julie, you are a treasure, and your voice is needed in this crazy election, and the aftermath which no matter how it turns out, promises to be full of upheaval. Our country (or just your friends/family) need your voice and your empathy to help us through!

    I am so happy that you have evolved from the “hairy knuckle dragging” primates that the bullies so ignorantly painted you. Hopefully, our country can evolve, as well, from these primates to the fully human, thinking and feeling, images of God that s/he intended! Jesus would not be sending these emails! Jesus would be extending a hand in help and offering his last penny for his brother.

    Please feel encouraged by at least me to continue to share your voice! It is the salve that our wounds need now!

    Sooooo proud – day 2.

  4. Thank you Julie for letting us listen to YOU this time. Such a wonderful gift and yes, please keep sharing your voice!

  5. I totally agree with your comments.

    When I was listening to Trump and the crowds reactions, I got a shiver down my spine that maybe America is not that far from a banana republic which has fallen under the spell of a populist con politician. Are things so bad in the USA that folks would buy into this bad actor with a distorted message? I found most people at the Trump rally to be decent folk, yet there was some underlying anger about “something.” As a country, I think we need to figure out what this something is.

    • Mike,
      I hope that you know just how encouraging and kind your words are. I absolutely agree, the people I engaged with at the Trump rally were fine and good people. And yes, there is something else going on. Like you, I have not put my finger on it, but it is beyond encouraging to hear your perspective.
      Thank you, thank you!

  6. THANK YOU Julie,
    Your eloquent voice is salve for a wounded flawed world.
    Listening is an art and the ability to sort through the dialog with patience and heart is your gift.

  7. I get jaded living in the Bay Area where I see women taking there rightful place as equals to men. Sometimes I think that the biblical pecking order is so engraved for some people that they can’t accept women as equal or superior to men. Electing our first woman president is a good start towards equality.