Some thoughts on Christmas, as the vile triumph around us

In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released a song called “Souls of the Departed,” on his album, Lucky Town. After describing the death of a seven-year-old boy killed in a gang-related drive-by, he observes,

His mama cried, “My beautiful boy’s dead”
In the hills the self-made men just sighed and shook their heads

But then, as always, Springsteen brings it down to the personal and immediate:

Tonight as I tuck my own son in bed
All I can think of is what if it would’ve been him instead
I want to build me a wall so high nothing can burn it down
Right here on my own piece of dirty ground

During this Christmas season, I’ve found myself thinking about all those children out there living in real, legitimate fear—the children of immigrants, the poor, the non-white, the LGBTQ—because of who the assholes in our country have chosen to lead us. The increase in hate crimes against those groups has been well-documented, and will only continue to grow. And I think about those parents, who must be filled with the worst kind of terror: the certainty that they can’t protect their children.

And as I tuck my own three children in bed, I think, “What if would’ve been them instead?”

And I share that terror. I have sons who will spend at least the next four years witnessing how everything I’ve tried to teach them—honesty, kindness, compassion, empathy—counts for nothing. You can be dishonest, unkind, and compassionless and still be chosen to lead what was once the greatest country in the world. And if that’s true, how can the decent ever succeed?

And I have a daughter who will learn that this vile president’s defining quote*, right up there with “I cannot tell a lie,” “Four score and seven years ago,” and “Tear down this wall,” will be, “Grab them by the pussy.” Them being women, and girls, and her.

Make no mistake: the assholes have won. Not the Right (or alt-Right), not the fundamentalist Christians (a topic for a whole other post), not the Conservatives. Not the racists, the xenophobes, or the homophobes. All those terms are mere smoke screens. Under it all, it’s just assholes, all the way down.

So during this holiday season, spare a thought for those who are truly in danger from this Cowardly New World. Do something kind for the most vulnerable among us. Wish at least a few moments’ peace for those children lying in bed, praying that God or Santa will make everything right. Wish that same peace for the parents who know that will never happen.

Because by next Christmas, it may be all of us.


*Until he comes up with something even worse. Which he will.

4 Comments on “Some thoughts on Christmas, as the vile triumph around us”

  1. Amen. Empathy at a time when empathy has been rejected by an electorate adrift in the fog of selfishness. Now that is a worthy Christmas wish. Thank you for voicing it.

  2. Resistance and resilence, my friend. Many of us will never give up. We will find a way to help those most in need of “all the good things.” We will network. We will make alliances that we might not have considered before with people who need help but would not have considered accepting our help in the past. We will not bow down to the bigotry, hatred, and selfishness that believes it can rule the land. Empathy, kindness, and love with a side order of cunning will balance the scales.

  3. We have had horrible Presidents before. We will have them again. We will survive. The empathy of America is not the government. It’s within each person’s heart. I’m a Southern, Christian, conservative libertarian, who’s too fat and too geeky for his own good, and who’s only funny about a third of the times he tries. But we all are so much more than the sums of our stereotyping. And here’s what we do about it. Be kind to others. Take the time to seek out people to offer kindness. Politicians are far away from us Washington is 800 miles away from me. My neighbors are not. I can’t help the President if he trips and falls, but I can help the kid next door. So, that’s what we will do. We will protect and love and help each other starting now. Not really, we’ve been doing it forever. WE can be the underground of decency and kindness. WE will unify. We will tolerate what we don’t like about anyone, because there is so much more that we do. We will be the ones who are kind to those who have different views, and will listen and debate in a friendly fashion, because after all, we just might learn something from each other. WE will create the stories of great heroes who inspire us to be more than we are, and the stories of ordinary people who found their way. We will donate our funds and our effort to make this a better world. WE will do our best to, in the words of Davy Crockett, “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” That’s what we do. Trump can’t touch us. Hillary couldn’t touch us. WE are the United States of America, not them. When Obama is gone, we will remain. And when Trump is gone, we will remain.

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