The Importance of Sister-Spirit under President-Elect Trump
December 7, 2016
Four weeks ago, my metro ride was silent the morning after the election. It wasn’t the usual kind of quiet often found in the early hours of the day, but the kind of silence found at a funeral. I noticed the expressions of my fellow commuters and knew their downcast eyes and slack mouths mirrored what my own face must have looked like. The days immediately following the election were a blur of disbelief, anger, and grief. I struggled to find compassion for those I knew who voted for Trump. How could they support such a person for presidency? What kind of values are we upholding when we elect someone who has shown no respect for immigrants, people of color, the disabled, women, Muslims, and veterans?
As someone who works for an organization rooted in Catholic social teaching, I try to practice the “Sister-Spirit” values instilled by NETWORK’s founding Catholic Sisters. Even as I found Trump’s behavior reprehensible when he was running for president, I did my best to approach him with hope and welcome. How hypocritical it would have been for me to hate a man precisely because he was hateful?
Now that Donald Trump is going to be our nation’s president, the task of being compassionate towards him has increased tenfold. I have seen many responses from fellow well-meaning white people that it is time to move on and accept our new president and hope for the best. This is a view others cannot afford. This is not a matter of people who are upset being sore losers. Immigrant families, people of color, those living in poverty, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities –these are just some of the groups that will be adversely affected by a Trump administration.
Living out Sister-Spirit values does not mean I will embrace what Trump believes in because he’s the president and hope he will “do what’s right.” In fact, it means just the opposite. Sister-Spirit calls for us to be feisty and bold, and prioritize the well-being of others, especially those at the margins. This means I must actively pursue justice and work for what’s right. As a person of faith I cannot be complicit in the bigotry and dangerous rhetoric of Donald Trump. I will continue to face the challenge of keeping my heart open to Trump and approach him with hope and welcome, but not at the expense of those who are in very real danger of this presidency.
The United States was founded with the belief that the power should be in the hands of the people. As residents of this country, it not only our right, but our duty to contact our legislators and speak out against policies that strip away the rights and opportunities of those at the margins. We cannot stand by and let the opportunity to advocate pass us by. Now is the time to put our faith into action and work for justice where there is none.
I will seek to understand Trump and his supporters, but I will not be a bystander to the threats he and his future administration pose. Now, more than ever, it is time to embrace Sister-Spirit and relentlessly pursue a world where love, justice, and inclusivity overcome hate, fear, and discrimination.