Audacious Hospitality

I went to a wedding last night-WAIT! Don’t go, I promise this isn’t another mournful post about my singleness!!!

As I was saying: I went to a beautiful wedding last night, joining two lovely, social conscious souls in a joyful but very aware Jewish ceremony. I’ve always found Jewish wedding ceremonies to be particularly moving, maybe because it’s not my tradition, or maybe because the Jewish weddings I’ve been to have by and large been for particularly moving, soulful, globally-minded people who see their union as one that brings us that much closer to a united world. Either way, it was gorgeous.

At one point the Rabbi was discussing the chuppah, and how it symbolized home, and specifically Abraham and Sarah’s tent, open on all sides, to provide access for travelers and others to join them. The Rabbi referred to this as “audacious hospitality” and it struck me. I rolled those words around in my head and in my heart all night, marinating on them and what they meant for me. What does it mean to be in a time of crisis, and still meet it with loving kindness towards others? Not just your friends and family, but specifically and especially towards the outsiders, the others.

Arabs also have a deep tradition of hospitality. You want to give a couple of Palestinians anxiety? Ask them if there’s enough food for a party. You’ll have food for literal days. You can’t come empty handed to a person’s home, you can’t not offer people food when their in yours, and any discomfort felt by a guest must be immediately attended to or it will bother you like a mosquito the entire night. Dinners out are a one-ups-manship of who pays-there have been legitimate fights in my family over who gets the dinner bill. That might seem like it’s defeating the point of generosity, but not allowing someone to take care of you is deeply shaming. It suggests that they can’t or don’t want to. And that is simply untrue.

In the last few days, my heart has been sore, and closed. I have sought out comfort in every way- from what I’ve been wearing (fleece-lined hipster penguin slip-ons? Check. Fur vest? Check.) to eating (all of the cheese, please) to hanging out with (no new people. Bunker friends only). But eventually I have to shake it off, and figure out a way to be in this new (or newly revealed?) reality. The idea of audacious hospitality got me thinking.

What if I continued to open my heart to not only my friends, but to these people that I don’t understand, to the new administration? As hard as it seems, what if I responded to what I perceive to be hate, with generosity? What if I counteracted their fear and mistrust with radical faith? What if, as St. Francis asked us to, a made myself into an instrument of God’s own peace?

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love…”.

In other words, instead of going low, go high. It’s not a matter of giving up the fight, or of denying the wrongness where there is wrongness, but about raising my own vibration in the hopes it will elevate others. Come to the fight from a place of audacious hospitality, both towards the persecuted and the persecutors, in the belief that love will actually trump hate.

Let’s see how it goes.

 

Face the Nation

First: Hi guys. How are you doing? Are you eating anything? Are you making sure to take breaks from social media? Did you get a good night’s sleep last night? How about a nap?

I don’t know what to say. I really don’t. I found out last night that the America I thought I lived in is not real. And I don’t know how to process that type of dissonance. I don’t know how to deal with that sort of betrayal of trust. My trust in the people around me, the places I came from, the place I live, to do the right thing. To recognize that no matter their hurt or anger, the answer wasn’t fear, or hate. The answer was to dig deeper and work together to get us all out. A rising tide. I thought that’s what we stood for.

But now I know that approximately half of my fellow Americans hate me, what I stand for, and large parts of my friends and family. I don’t know how to process that information either. I don’t know how to shake off the nagging suspicion that they’ve never been with me, they were just pretending. That’s what I have to take away from these votes for a man that has been openly and incessantly hostile to those I hold near and dear. Before you tell me I am engaging in hyperbole, you weren’t there last night when the friends with whom I was watching the returns, mostly female members of the LGBTQ community, began to cry. In fear. In disappointment. In rage. You weren’t there as I received panicked texts from my friends across the country, friends of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, like they’d just been hit by a natural disaster. I don’t know what to do with this helplessness. I can’t help them. I can’t help me.

Because I will work for this man. This demagogue. It’s my job. I could leave my job. I might. But I feel like I owe it to the American people, even the half of them that hate me, to work towards a better future. To fight the tide of nationalism. Call me a glutton for punishment. I don’t know how I’d feel better on the sidelines. I’m probably going to have to buy more pantyhose. There’s really only one way to be a woman in a Trump administration. I’m pretty sure I’m not that kind of girl.

I walked down the street today, bleary eyed and exhausted, enfeebled, and in every face I met I searched for signs that the other person was with me, or against me. I got nothing back. I think we’re all numb. People in my office keep openly weeping. Me too. Crying at work isn’t professional, but we’re all giving each other a pass today. Maybe tomorrow.

Trump tells it like it is, or like they believe it to be. He gives them a pressure valve to let off the steam I didn’t know was building. Don’t we want to be on a trajectory towards more freedom? Towards more common dignity? Weren’t we all in this together?  No. Apparently not. There’s been a lot of talk about how liberals lost because we’re disconnected from reality, and live in an ivory tower. I don’t think that’s right. I think we believe in the best of people. That people, when given the option, will tend to listen to their better angels, rather than demons. I don’t know how to process the idea that I was wrong about that.

And men. I realized last night, in a flash of total clarity, that the number of men I really trust can be counted on one hand, and I don’t need all five fingers. As I watched that roving pack of Bud Light-drunk dude bros gloat at Trump HQ, a shiver of fear ran through me. Van Jones referenced a “white lash” last night, and I don’t think he’s wrong. But I think there was also a a repudiation of female power; not just Hillary, but the notion that women are equals at all. And what scares me the most is how many women seem to agree. It’s not that anyone should have voted for Hillary because she was a women- it was moving and historic, yes, but I would have voted for a man who said the same things. It’s that people should have voted against Trump because of the hateful things about women and minorities he has said. I don’t know how you vote for a man who has shown total disdain for you just because of your gender or your ethnicity.  Perhaps other things are more important to you, and I can respect that. But I never heard a single policy initiative from this man. I have no idea what affirmative things he stands for. I only know what he’s against, and that’s almost everything I love and hold dear.

And then there’s the silent majority (I won’t even get into the popular vote vs electoral college which somehow seems to always screw the Dems). Silent why? If you believe in this man, and what he stands for, if you were willing to vote for him, why be quiet about it? Are you ashamed? Do you understand that it’s a vote of self interest at the expense of your fellow Americans? You must. Otherwise why be silent. That silent majority terrifies me, the ones who voted against their own conscience and didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to be proud about it. If you’re really looking for a new world order, don’t be a coward about it.

Some say now is not the time for name calling. I think if you scroll up you’ll see there were no names called (ok, except dude bros. But you’ve seen the photos, I stand by my statements). But don’t ask me to move on, or forward. Not yet. Not today. I’m still reeling and I’m still numb, and I have whiplash from being asked to get on board with a platform that has repeatedly told me I am not welcome. I have more self-respect than that. I am not going to beg for crumbs at the feet of an institution that does not want me, or my kind. That tells me the only way to be a woman is as object, or opportunity. That names five old white men, one man of color, and exactly no women for their support when accepting the presidency.

Maybe tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get there tomorrow. But not today.

 

 

This is Not a Political Post

By now I know we’re all fatigued from this election, sick of the sniping, the lies, the backbiting, the complete media saturation, your one weird cousin who won’t shut the fuck up on Facebook. I myself have been guilty of posting about a meme an hour. But the time for laughs is over.  I’ve hesitated to write this post, not because I’m at all shy about my feelings about this particular election, but because I have had trouble condensing all the anger, fear, confusion, and disgust I have into one coherent series of sentences. So I guess I’ll settle for incoherent ones.

This is not a political post, because I don’t believe our votes this time around are a political choice. They are a moral choice. A moral imperative, if you will.

Voting for Trump is an immoral choice.

I imagine I will get a lot of angry push-back on this post, for a variety of reasons (don’t worry, if not here, I’ll probably piss you off below). I don’t care. It does not change the truth. Maya Angelou famously said (I think to Oprah?) that “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Trump has shown us who he is, time and time again. He has shown us that he believes in himself first, and perhaps only. He has shown us that he does not value other opinions, has no time or patience for disagreement, and cannot tolerate anyone telling him he is mistaken, even about something minor. He has shown us he is mean-spirited, hostile, and capricious. He has shown us that he does not care about women, minorities, or the poor. He has shown us that he takes pride in taking advantage of those that do not share his privilege, his money, or his gender.

Having been in an intimate relationship with a narcissistic sociopath, I recognize this behavior. I am not engaging in an ad hominem attack or hyperbole. He is unhinged, and dangerously so. He has shown us who he is, and he is a demagogue-a demagogue for whom I may have to work, come January, a thought that occurs to me as I post these things, because I legitimately fear retribution under a Trump presidency. But post I must.

So, what are you going to do on Tuesday?

If you’re a Republican, I am so, so sorry, my friends. I know that this man does not stand for the principles of your party, and I truly feel for your lack of a legitimate choice this election. I hope that this causes a true come-to-Jesus moment for your party, to be able to stop your leadership from embracing fringe elements of the far right, and fomenting racism, misogyny, and homophobia in the base. Trump is an attack dog; he does his job from the porch, and GOP leaders have been happy to let him, thinking he was safely chained up outside. But somehow he got inside the house, and now they’re are shaking their heads as he tears apart the pillows and shits on the rug. He’s an attack dog. That’s what they do. But the Republicans I know are people of conscience, reasonable people with whom I simply disagree on policy, but I know would never put this man in power. And so you have my sympathies. I know it may be painful, but I urge you to vote against Trump, and spend the next four years fighting the Democrats in the Senate and the House, in service to our democracy (or come over to the Dark Side, friends! We have Beyonce!).

If you want to vote for a third party candidate, please don’t. I get it. You don’t like Hillary or Trump. But we’re not in an election where you get to be a special fucking snowflake. I’m sorry. As a 2000 Nader voter (calm down, Minnesota still went Gore), take it from me: now is the time to hold your nose and get on board. Even Bernie has been telling you so.

If you don’t want to vote at all: grow the fuck up. It is 100% ok to vote against someone. Pick the one you like least and vote for the other person, against that person you most dislike. Just fucking vote. You’re not a child, and whining that you’re not going to vote because you don’t like anyone is what a child does. We all often have to make a choice between the lesser of two evils, and while I don’t think that’s accurate, if you do, fine. Choose between a human dumpster fire who has openly embraced the KKK and doesn’t understand why we don’t use our nukes more often, and a hawkish, somewhat out of touch, quasi-Dem who misused an email server. But vote. People died for the right, and again, that is not hyperbole. It is the height of privilege to not vote. Don’t be a douchbag.

I’ll admit it: Hillary might be a terrible President. I don’t think she will be, but she might be. But I know for certain Trump would be a terrible President- he has shown us that he would be. And, not just for us, for the rest of the world; that is what’s really at stake. Most of the people reading this will not be all that effected by a Trump Presidency, because they are insulated by class, money, race, etc. But this is an election, perhaps more than any I’ve lived through, where my vote is not for myself. It’s for all the people who Trump has explicitly said he would persecute: my friends in the LGBTQ community. My friends of various races and immigration statuses. My family from Palestine. Every woman I know. The elderly living on a fixed income. My friends in other countries whose jobs depend on positive relationships with the United States. Children. Veterans. We vote for them.

Look, I know you’re tired. I’m tired too. But we’re almost done. And tired isn’t a sufficient excuse. Justice, fairness, doing what is right, is exhausting. Doing what is easy, what is simplistic, what appeals to our base natures, that wastes no effort at all. And this country is worth an effort. It has always been worth it. This isn’t about politics. It’s about being the people we believe ourselves to be, worthy of a great nation. Worthy of one another.

 

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