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The Morning After

“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

— John Wesley, October 6, 1774

I found this quotation the day before the election, too late to learn from it for the period of the campaign. It was on the Facebook page of Professor Charles Manekin of Princeton, a philosophy professor, a dual Israeli/American citizen and an activist for Palestinian rights. All I can do now is to try to apply it during the Trump administration.

Some help with this task came from an African-American writer (didn’t catch her name) who was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today. Her first comment was that she “had not listened enough” to Trump’s supporters, had not understood the depth of their fear and their anger.

Why wasn’t I listening more carefully? Our town foodbank is always short of food. I have neighbors who can’t afford proper medical care. Their parents, not wealthy, were nonetheless in a much more secure position. Though they work as hard as their parents did, they can’t give that security to their own children. They know, as we all do, of the dizzying heights of wealth accrued by a few in the course of globalization and of the political corruption that weaves through that process and battens on it.

Not that I know what to do about it all. Over the last decade, as I followed the trade wars, the drug wars, the war wars, it has seemed to me that every apparently reasonable policy step, every best try or least-worst idea, has backfired to create more misery. The far left wants us to become Sweden. The far right wants us to vanish the government, except for the ones with guns, and let it all hang out. The middle muddles, producing slight variations on what already hasn’t worked.

The best I can come up with on policy questions is to think my way through, give my considered opinion and reasons to my neighbors and, if I have the opportunity, to someone who might be able to put them into practice, and then apply myself to healing the wounds that will be inflicted on human beings, as they always have been.

In the course of that effort, I hope I will be able to apply John Wesley’s advice, to speak no evil and let not my spirit be sharpened.

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