This Moral Moment

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What world are we creating for my grandson Calvin?

I have been trying to process how anyone can justify voting for the Republican presidential nominee. This became even more mysterioso after the Friday tape drop. I try to “build an empathy bridge” to my Republican friends. I imagine if the Democrats had a candidate who was truly unqualified, who regularly insulted groups of people, and acted like a petulant child, and now likely committed sexual assault. Would I still vote for him/her out of party loyalty? Or because I thought the future of the supreme court was more important than the deficiencies of the candidate? It gets me part of the way (Bill Clinton springs to mind–especially the second time around) and still there is a chasm.

I marvel at both the Republicans who since Friday have claimed that are now so outraged they unendorse him, and those who, even with this latest garbage spew from the candidate, say that at least he doesn’t support abortion. (Does he or doesn’t he? Really, you believe that?) To the former I guess you can see where they might have given Trump’s public pronouncements a pass before, thinking he’s just trying to mobilize a segment of angry voters, and then once you hear that even 11 years ago (at age 59 past the point of “maturity”) he was saying vile things in private. This is a direct window into his heart. It’s ugly and it becomes the final straw.

And now I have a whole new understanding of how Germany ended up with Hitler (no I am not called the Republican nominee a Hitler–the comparison is more to their shared deep narcissism and willingness to race bait to win elections).  Especially my fellow Christians: How can you give his behavior such a complete pass just to have access to Presidential power or to maintain Anglo-Christian privilege? I continue to read on Facebook posts from Christian friends who say Trump is the only true Christian. (I guess Methodists aren’t followers of Christ??)

This is why I believe we are living in a moral moment. In her article,  “Derailed” by Kathryn Schultz in The New Yorker August 22, 2016, she suggests we do not usually recognize moral moments.

“It is to our credit if these are the Americans [Underground Railroad engineers] to whom we want to trace our moral genealogy.  But we should not confuse the fact that they took extraordinary actions with the notion that they lived in extraordinary times. One of the biases of retrospection is to believe that the moral crises of the past were clearer than our own–that, had we been alive, we would have recognized them, known what to do about them, and known when the time had come to do so. That is a fantasy. Iniquity is always coercive and insidious and intimidating, and lived reality is always a muddle, and the kind of clarity that leads to action comes from without but from within.”

I like to think that when there is a critical moment to make a choice with heavy moral portent that I will recognize it and make the right decision. It might be hard or come at a great cost personally or professionally, but I would be on the right side of history. I believe this election will shape our society’s moral compass for years to come.

Dan Rather agrees with me. As he said on the evening of the second Presidential debate:

For those of us who have lived long and eventful lives, we often are able to find calm in the crisis of the moment by invoking the perspective of time. You understand that history is always rough in the early making and the years and decades that follow will often smooth these jagged peaks into the gentle contours of a rolling landscape where big themes and movements hold sway over the details that overwhelm us in the here and now. But this is not always the case. There are some inflection points that explode with such violence and monstrous effect that any semblance of continuity is hopelessly disjointed.

Most often these moments are ones of violence – wars, civil unrest and assassinations. But make no mistake, what we have seen in the past few days is proof that we are living through such an instance. And the violence here has been in ripping asunder our self-confidence in our system of government and in the unity we share with our fellow Americans.

We have serious problems facing our nation, and our world. Our ship of state must be prepared to navigate the perilous shoals of our complicated world – and yet I feel tonight as if we have been hijacked into an alternate universe. This national nightmare will end one way or another and we will awaken to the same world from which we have been so disengaged. That is our challenge and it is a challenge from which none of us can opt out.

As citizens we must repudiate the hate, the bigotry, the vile character we have seen eating up the public space for the last year and VOTE for Hillary Clinton so there is no way the Republican nominee is allowed to win by any measure.

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