There’s a lot of blaming Mr. Trump for the violence in America today; the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso being the latest in a shameful national parade. And, full disclosure, I’m not a fan. But I don’t blame him. Regardless of our political beliefs, I believe we can agree that Mr. Trump is a consummate marketer. His genius, in my opinion, is his ability to sense the true mood of a crowd and capitalize on it. If he had not sensed our fear and divisiveness, would his campaign rhetoric have been the same? I don’t think so. Blaming him for our problems is like blaming Hollywood for making violent movies. They don’t play to empty theaters.
Mr. Trump didn’t plant the seeds, he simply cultivated them. They have always been there, germinating beneath the surface. We have all seen, or experienced first hand, prejudice, frank or thinly veiled. It’s in our societal genes. Immigrants, Jewish people, African Americans, women, homosexuals, the elderly…The list is long. Distrust and fear of “the other” that, once ignited, quickly rages out of control. But what, exactly, are we afraid of?
That somehow “the other” will take away our freedoms, our possessions, our status? That “they” will require something of us we don’t want to give? Are we afraid of becoming “them?” Or is it just too painful to confront the injustices, unmet needs, pain and despondency in their lives? Is it easier to just blame them for their predicament and get on with our lives? Wash our hands of the whole sorry mess?
These questions come to mind every time I see another immigration nightmare, violent demonstration, community wracked with drugs and crime. I could argue that no one helped me, so why should I help them? After all, my marginalized group of origin, poor white southern women, didn’t and still doesn’t have, an action group. I could argue that I did okay, why can’t they? Why get involved? I prefer to avoid the heat.
Until it starts licking at my heels….and I experience the consequence of ignoring a fire just because I didn’t start it.
There are hopeful signs that maybe, just maybe, this time we’ve had enough. And IF we have, President Trump will take note.