When I was little, my mom, quoting Oprah Winfrey, used to tell me that God is always trying to communicate with us. The problem is that we don’t always listen. First, God whispers in our ear. And if we don’t pay attention to the whispers, they get louder. God yells in our face. And if we choose to ignore all the yelling, God hits us over the head with a cosmic 2×4.
The blow knocks us off balance. It makes us sit up and pay attention. And even though it’s painful and unsettling, I’ve come to develop a fond appreciation for the 2×4. Because sometimes we really need that cosmic blow to the head to gather the courage to move forward.
Sometimes we need to set the house on fire before we can leave.
Sometimes we need crisis to set us into motion.
After all, it’s much easier to leave a terrible, horrible thing than a situation that is merely passable; something that’s good but not great. We don’t listen to the whispers- not because we don’t hear them, but because we don’t want to. We don’t want to make the change. We don’t want to do the work. We want to stay where it is safe and known and passable. We ignore the whispers. But the 2×4 always shows up, because God doesn’t play.
Maybe Donald Trump is our country’s version of the divine 2×4.
As much as I love Hillary Clinton, I know that if she had won, the country would have reverted back to business as usual. Everything would’ve gone back to normal. We would’ve checked out because our democracy is built on the trust of the elected official, and the average person has learned that the easiest thing to do is step aside and disengage. We’ve learned to observe from a distance. We stop participating when there is no real need to participate.
The problem was, it wasn’t working.
Even before Trump became President, there were whispers. There were yells. Things have not been right for a long time. America, the greatest country on Earth, is slowly but surely self-imploding. We are fighting each other. We are becoming intolerant. We are becoming scared. We are becoming self-loathing and selfish and entitled and lazy. Worst of all, we are becoming apathetic.
We have forgotten who we are.
We are nation of immigrants, of colonists, of people who risked everything to be here. We are movers and shakers and believers and dreamers. We help each other. We teach each other. We believe in something bigger than ourselves.
What happened to us?
Aaron Sorkin’s famous speech in The Newsroom sums it up perfectly: America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
There have been whispers. We’ve ignored them. And now we’ve got our 2×4.
The day after the election felt like a funeral. There was a heaviness in the air. People were crushed, depressed, shocked beyond belief. And yet, just a day earlier, many people were ambivalent and indifferent. They thought Hillary would win and life would go on as usual and they didn’t care to get involved. And then we got hit by a 2×4 and everyone is wondering what the hell happened.
We had a shaky foundation. God is rebuilding us. We could’ve done it slowly and gradually back when there were whispers, but now we’ll have to do it all at once. Now we have no choice. Now the time has arrived, and we can’t ignore it any longer.
People were asleep for a long time. I was one of them. I didn’t care about politics. I didn’t see a reason to. I didn’t know where I fit in. It was confusing and complicated, and it didn’t really effect my life anyway, so why bother? I had other things to worry about.
I didn’t care and I really didn’t have to. What difference did it make? It was business as usual. Government would work the way it always worked, and I’d sit back and blindly trust that the people elected were doing the job to the best of their abilities. I could afford to relax. This is obviously and painfully not the case with Donald Trump.
So I find myself wondering, what if this was supposed to happen? What if this is what needed to happen? What if this is the grand awakening across the country? What if this is America getting remade?
Maybe you don’t agree. Maybe you don’t think there’s an explanation, or you don’t believe in God, or you think I’m too blinded by my privilege to see the true horror this has caused to others. That’s fine. I’m not trying to justify Trump’s actions, nor am I saying we deserve them or asked for them. But I am saying that maybe there is a reason this happened. I do believe, I have to believe, that there is a lesson to be learned here- that there is wisdom to be gleaned.
I, for one, am determined to stay awake. I’m going to be on high alert. I’m going to participate and remain involved. And I’m recommitting myself to listening to the whispers, to checking in and noticing where else I might be asleep. I’m showing up.
Whether it’s coincidence or an act of God, we all have a choice to how we react to Trump’s presidency. We all get to decide where we go from here. I encourage you to let this change you. Let this rearrange your insides. Let this make you better and kinder and more engaged. Respond to this in a way that makes you better.
Don’t let the story end here. Don’t ignore the whispers.
Wake up and move forward.