A few conclusions I’ve come to this week:
“This isn’t us” is the new “thoughts and prayers.”
Telling employees to practice “self care” is the other new “thoughts and prayers,” and has been for quite some time.
Urging employees and other groups to be “calm” these days is about as advisable as urging your spouse to “simmer down” in the middle of the biggest fight you’ve ever had.
Making an effort to understand Trump people who live on the spectrum between believing in mass voter fraud on the saner end and false flags on the crazier end—this doesn’t feel like listening to someone’s heart, it feels like a math problem that I haven’t had enough calculus to solve. It also seems like something I shouldn’t do for free or without proper insurance. And it smells like electrical smoke.
And finally, I don’t think I learned this this week, but this week’s events helped me lay tongue to it: Committing oneself to making an effort to understand does not mean condemning oneself to being forever mystified.
I’ve made an effort to understand what’s going on with this Trump phenomenon. I lay paralyzed hundreds of mornings listening to Trump callers on C-SPAN. I’ve clambered down the mind-bending conspiracy Facebook threads. I’ve watched Fox News. I’ve read and I’ve read and I’ve read and I’ve read. And I’ve had long and horrible conversations with close friends who do not see America as I see it—or life itself, it sometimes seems.
And to the extent that I need to understand what happened this week: I’ve made an effort to understand, and I understand.
Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin said this morning that this week officially marks the end of the era of 9/11. Now the whole nation has a shared image, a punctuating event which should clarify for all of us a long-gathering reality: The most urgent existential threat to America isn’t attacks from without but division within, which will ruin the nation “if we don’t do that work,” as Slotkin said, to bridge these canyons. (Or fill them, with bricks.)
So this week, understanding and the sense of conviction it brings.
Next week, back to work, on what can be done.