I felt it the other day. I think it was the day after Trump’s election to the presidency, which sent shock waves throughout America and the rest of the world. But I felt it. It was something that I have to try hard not to let grow into fruition. It was the beginnings of hate.
Often I have taken a look at the world, filled with war and conflict, and asked myself the question in the abstract – how and why can humans be so cruel to each other? How do people get to the point where they are willing to commit murder against other people on a mass scale, as in war?
It begins with dehumanization. It starts with not seeing other people as human beings, and rather, something lesser than what you are and therefore, not deserving of the full respect that you might offer someone else. And I feel that, on both sides, Trump’s ascendance to the presidency of the United States has opened the floodgates and legitimized hate and dehumanization.
Whatever Trump ends up trying to do policy-wise, it can’t be argued that he ran a campaign that fed upon, stoked anger against, and debased “the others,” whether it be immigrants (Mexican or Muslim,) disabled people, women or gays. We saw a rise in hate crimes during Trump’s campaign, and since election night, an even more noticeable spike. This is because people have become emboldened by his legitimization of dehumanization and bullying. If he can be president, with all of his shameful behavior and rhetoric, people start to feel less inhibited and more validated in their own misguided anger and bullying instincts.
Even before Trump won, as I followed his campaign and through all of his despicable behavior and words, I asked myself – do I hate this man? And the answer was – absolutely. I despise Trump. It’s not a pleasant feeling, and it’s not a place I like to stay in, but it’s the truth. It’s possible that this could change, but highly unlikely. To my knowledge, Trump has only once ever uttered a half-assed “apology” for any of his disgusting antics. I might be more open to forgiving the things I can’t stand about Trump in time, but it would have to start with him publicly acknowledging the damage of his words and actions, and atoning for them.
Trump’s election repulsed me, and instantly made me realize just how many of my “fellow” country men and women are okay with all of the dehumanizing behavior that Trump stands for. Someone on Twitter put it best, as I paraphrase – “Trump’s supporters might not all be racist, but they decided that racism was not a deal-breaker.” Right away, a division started happening in my mind – Trump voters vs. non-Trump voters. And then I realized, that’s how it begins. It begins with looking at another person and seeing some aspect that makes them lesser in your mind. A thought that came to my mind was how, during war, people look at others and see “the enemy” and something to be reviled and destroyed. And that’s what was happening to me. It’s something I struggle with. Because I am extremely angry. I do think that there are some people who live in this country that are more morally and conscientiously evolved than others. And I often wish our lives didn’t have to be impacted by those that want to go backwards through decades of societal progress.
Trump’s victory reinforced the knowledge that we are seemingly irreparably divided. There have been many times in the past when I have thought that life might be better if the United States broke apart somehow. Meaning, in my case, maybe California or the West Coast could secede from the Union and become a nation in its own right. This all sounds crazy for many, but right now it is an idea that suddenly sounds desirable for a lot of people. That’s how divisive this election has become. Maybe this will fade in time, or maybe it will grow into an actual movement. We shall see. But, whatever happens, from here on out, it is clear that I will have to struggle to contain and channel my anger and loathing into something constructive. It will be a tough road, but I don’t want to become that which I despise about Trump.
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