The Hardest Faith

It is January 27th, 2017, and we are 5 working days into the Trump administration. Whether or not you think this is going to be an anti-Trump or pro-Trump piece, please keep reading.

Before the election, before the campaign season, and before Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton were even thought of as potential partisan successors, my personal belief system was being created, adapted, and molded. I was born in 1990. I do not have memories of experiencing or participating in the electoral process prior to when it actually mattered to me, or the first time I was able to vote. Everyone grows up listening to their parents discuss, overhearing background media, and creating early impressions on core belief systems that remain influential and somewhat deterministic throughout our lifetimes. For good or bad. I feel so lucky to have grown up in a household that promoted critical thought, sympathy, and introspection that not only enabled my spiritual identity, but also my political disposition. While it should largely be argued that the separation of these fundamentals are necessary, they are undeniably impactful in our most influential ages.

Although I have a track record of voting democratic, that does not necessarily mean that I am a democrat. I proudly voted (twice) for Barack Obama, and would vote for him again and again if given the opportunity. There are plenty of republican ideals I genuinely sympathize with, both from an economic and spiritual standpoint (welfare, pro-life/pro-choice, and trade). My hope for democracy is first and foremost to expand from a two-party system into a more meaningful diversity of options, but at the very least compromise at a fundamental understanding or appreciation of specific partisan ideals. To be able to understand, appreciate, and communicate for or against a party’s historical stance is at the heart of what ideally makes democracy worthwhile. The discussion. The understanding. And the system that wholly accepts conflicting opinions to reflect the nature of a person’s desire. This is democracy. This is our country. And this is the way in which we have been different and better than our counterparts. When these ideals fall, so does our belief in each other and the way in which we are all called to participate in the system.

This is at the crux at what is so unnerving to me. The communication is gone at a personal level and at a governmental level. We do not have respect — we even condescend — our friends and family for their beliefs. We sit around dinner tables, deer stands, coffee shops, and keyboards to uphold our personal beliefs while demeaning those of our peers. While we have every right and should flamboyantly express those values we hold dear, we should never, ever belittle, be ashamed, or be accusatory in our communication.

While I did not vote for Donald Trump, I had many friends and family that did. At first I felt disbelief — how could they do that, I thought. It was unbelievable to me at the time. It felt like like the five stages of coping with death, DABDA: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. There was no way he won, how could he win?!, okay maybe this won’t be so bad, yeah this could be really bad, it is bad. The latter part of that progression, though, is ongoing. While both parties have a tendency to overdramatize the reality of the political landscape, there has been, at least in my lifetime, a counterbalance to this provocation. A ying and a ying. A weighted pulley. A system of checks and balances. When the ying does not have the yang, we become blinded to the other side’s existence and see only what we know, have experienced, and feel safe within.

Although I expected something of a Trump administration, I do not think I could ever expect this. I had hope, faith, and “yang” to my expectations of this administration. And I still do. The triangular governmental structure that has brought us to this point surely could not fail us now, right? I hoped. I remain hopeful that the bombastic preludes of Trump’s campaign would be tempered by a more level-headed cabinet and congress. It seems, however, that Trump is more than willing to exact those principles he campaigned for, and quite frankly he has every right to do so. He won the electoral vote based on those precepts. While it would be criminal and unfair to indict Trump on week one of the presidency, faithful and opposition alike must have some level of hesitance as to the accuracy of his sentiment. Is this the man you voted for? Is this the man you thought was capable of this?

Trump’s Executive Orders as of 1/27/17:

Trump’s Alleged Demands as of 1/27/17:

Taking some of these notions individually, they may seem perhaps necessary for a transition of power that undertakes a magnitude of inherited policy. Yet, also individually taken, these actions seem to lay a groundwork that compromises the dialogue and necessary humanitarianism that upholds a sensible air of democracy. Not only do several of these week one executive orders go against what Trump promised and fought for pre-election, they also toe the line of national and international unease. Whether you agree or disagree with these executive orders, they are just that: executive orders. Laws are what limited Obama and what seemingly could limit Trump. Executive orders are short-lived, but laws are lastingly impactful. That should give us hope that early actions do not equate to long-term suffrage.

The Democratic Party lost the election, and there is “no” changing that. I do not want to hear the “you’re butt hurt, you guys lost, you are the reason Trump won argument.” Please. The hypocrisy of statements like that is unbelievable. Opposition wasn’t happy in 2008/9, 2012/13, or 2016/17. In every single one of those elections, not only has our democracy become more caustic, but more cynical. We despise one another, sometimes hate the leader of the free world. Is this the country we want to become, one that devolves into name-calling, arrogance, accusation, and privilege? Do we want to overlook the missteps and errors of our leaders in effort to uphold our pre-disposed notions of what we “want?” What do we want? What our parents want? What our friends want? What we were told to want? Why, only now, are we seriously questioning what we want when we face opposition to our internally held beliefs?

Maybe because we never felt confident enough, maybe because we felt things were working out for us just fine, or maybe because we never felt victimized in the way countless of our brothers and sisters do every day. My greatest argument for democracy is a human, loving, and understanding one. A democracy that believes in the greatest of humankind’s beliefs, cherishes our diversity, and promotes equality for all regardless of race, religion, background, or condition. If anyone feels so slighted by this early administration and did not vote…man. What did you think would happen?

The hardest thing to watch in this first week of Trump has been the consistent misappropriation of truth. The blatant denial of climate change and science, the implications of a Mexican import tax, THE WALL, DAPL…I mean c’mon. We are being purposefully fed distracting information to invest our attention to less important matters. Focus on voter fraud while I excommunicate environmental science; focus on my inauguration crowd photos while I fight for DAPL and fossil fuels. The most difficult moment of this first week is not the Trump presidency, but the denial and submission by which we accept its reality. Even if we feel strongly about these matters, worthwhile minds are being rerouted to handle Trump’s next lie, if only to distract you from his current. Believe nothing, challenge everything, and read…read everything intensely.

As misinformed as Trump may be, we are also privy to succumb to the same habits that made him our President. We evangelize our beliefs with unwavering confidence, we attempt influence on each other with a lack of total understanding, and we belittle our government, our peers, and our future almost in excusal negligence. Republicans, democrats, independents alike fight for their beliefs. And that is beautifully profound that we can do so without fear of interference. But we take that privilege for granted with every passing election, almost like we expect our “side” to win because our beliefs should “win.” There is no winning. There is no losing. There is only understanding and appreciation for the conditions our brothers and sisters are subjected to. To understand and appreciate so much is the first step towards becoming the fuller society we know we can be and all want to become, regardless of party or belief.

So it with this that I have faith. I have faith in my friends and family to appreciate and understand one another, I have faith in my government to act on the best interest of the whole people, and not just those that voted for him or for her. I have faith in my spirituality, that it will guide us closer to a more inclusive sense of love and involvement. And I have increasing faith that becomes ever harder to find. This is the Hardest Faith. To believe, with no evidence, that things will improve. For that is the very essence of faith: an unwavering belief in the life to come. This is the most challenged I have personally felt in the faith of this government, but I believe that, at the end of the day, we are one family.