Message to a Trump Supporter and a Friend

Dear friend –

I want to make this clear – before I say what I feel I need to say here – that I am glad we’re friends. I’ve seen what a good mother you are and I’ve enjoyed watching your little one grow. I know your heart is in the right place and you, genuinely, want the best for this country.

But here’s what I need to say – the last presidential election was a difficult one for a lot of us. I cannot say that either one of the major candidates running would have been my first choice. But long before he ran for president – even back when he called himself a Democrat – I was not impressed with the way Donald Trump treated other people. He created a fake university and collected tuition from unsuspecting students. He refused to pay workers. He treated women horribly – we all know about the “pussy” remark. He took delight in “firing” and demeaning people in his ridiculous reality show.

When he was elected president (through help from the Russians) I hoped – I really did – that he would somehow rise to the occasion and become the leader we needed. But nope. He immediately began dismantling our environmental protections. He put our nation at risk by disrespecting our allies – and, in the case of the Kurds, actually abandoning our allies. He’s hired and fired a long list of people who were incompetent and unqualified to hold cabinet positions. He’s lied, continually, to the American people. He’s taken money from our military bases to build a wall that most Americans don’t want, that won’t be effective, and that the legislature voted against. He’s allowed children to be ripped from the arms of their parents and put in cages. He seems to have no interest in serving us. He considers the Constitution “phony” because it keeps him from making money for his resort. I was not impressed with Donald Trump before he ran for president, and my impression of him has not improved since he took office.

I do not believe he is fit to be leading the nation I love.

I have found it useful to listen to people with different perspectives and hear what they have to say – I don’t enjoy being surrounded by people who think exactly the same way I think about stuff – I want to hear other ideas – and so I appreciate that you’ve come on here and shared your thoughts about Donald Trump. I hope you can appreciate my thoughts, as well.

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Reason to Impeach

No, no, no, no, no. An American president does not ask a foreign president to investigate a fellow American. American investigations of Americans stay in America. And to offer weapons to a foreign president in exchange for investigating an American citizen is also a no-no. I feel weird having to say this. I mean. Duh, right?

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Where It All Needs to Start

You know, this stuff didn’t start with Trump. The greed, the racism, the me-firstness, the bullying, the dishonesty, the corruption, the mean-spiritedness – that stuff has been a part of our society and politics for a long time – the only difference in the last couple of years is that it’s come out in the open – people almost seem proud of their hate and greed and dishonesty now. And to see all of that being played out in front of us – in the open – is disheartening, yes. But… here’s what gives me hope: It seems to me that if there’s been a rise in acts of hatred, there’s also been a rise in acts of kindness in the last couple years – people seem, to me, to be more conscious and deliberate about kindness.

And that’s where it all needs to start, doesn’t it? The healing and progress? It needs to start with us, as individuals. In our own acts of kindness to others. In our own generosity. In our own integrity.

Alrighty. That’s where I am right now. Carry on then…

kind heart

Abortion

Warning: This one is of a political nature. 

I have noticed at least one politician who brings up abortions whenever his approval ratings drop. The word “abortion” seems to bring an instant knee-jerk reaction from people – they immediately fall into lock-step behind him. All the other things that need attention – global warming, mass shootings, poverty, homelessness, and national security – are put aside. People seem willing to throw out the Constitution and the well-being of their fellow citizens for this one issue alone.

I’ve never had an abortion. I’ve never been in a situation where I might have to make that choice: Both my pregnancies were planned; The pregnancies didn’t endanger my health or life; The sons were seen to be thriving and whole in the womb. My pregnancies were full of joyful anticipation. I could see my sons moving around on the screen – could see their little hands and feet moving and their hearts beating – and they were both very real to me. I can understand the feelings anti-choice people have about abortion, and I can relate to those feelings.

But I have empathy, too, for women who might find themselves in circumstances different than mine – I can imagine the gut-wrenching despair and heartache a woman might feel if she found herself in a position where she had to make this choice. I have had friends who had to make this choice for themselves and none of them celebrated abortions – there wasn’t wild rejoicing and laughter and applause. None of them approached this choice without deep reflection and thought. For each of them it was a somber, serious, sorrowful time in their lives.

No one should view another woman’s pregnancy cavalierly – like pregnancy and childbirth are just small blips in a woman’s life. Women die from pregnancies. Women die from childbirth. And to force a woman to go through a pregnancy that might endanger her health, or cause her death, is unthinkable to me. To force any woman to go through a pregnancy without consideration for her feelings and needs is just wrong. It’s not my place – or anyone else’s – to take control of another woman’s body and choose how it’s going to be used. Her body doesn’t belong to me, or to you.

Yeah, I admit I have sometimes found myself making judgments on women who have had multiple abortions, or who choose to have an abortion rather than give up their dream for a new car or a trip to the Bahamas or whatever. But I’m not proud of that. When we, as a society, start trying to add certain restrictions about who can get an abortion and who can’t and for what reasons, we’re making the right to get an abortion a subjective thing, rather than a medical procedure. Who am I to decide what reasons are good enough to allow a woman to have an abortion, and what reasons are not? All women should have the right to have control over their own bodies. And my personal biases – and yours – shouldn’t enter into the discussion.

Should there be laws that protect a sentient life from harm? Absolutely! And there are laws that do this. No state allows for murder. No state allows for infanticide. Any claims to the contrary are wrong.

Do I post this? Or do I not?
Okay, here goes..

The Shutdown Is Not Working for Us

Dear Republican Senators:
The Government shutdown is not working for us. You are not serving the best interests of the people who elected you to represent them.

The bill that the House of Representatives recently passed is the exact same bill you passed, unanimously, only a month ago. There is no good reason not to pass it again. Please stop holding the American people hostage. Pass the bill, get the government working again, PAY THE GOVERNMENT WORKERS AND STOP TREATING THEM LIKE FREE LABOR (give them a raise while you’re at it – Lord knows they’ve earned it), and THEN talk about The Wall with the Democrats.

You all know there are better ways of protecting our borders than a wall. You all know about the technology we have available to us in the 21st century to protect our borders (and if you don’t know about this technology, perhaps now is the time to get acquainted with it) – technology that would make a wall obsolete.

If McConnell won’t do the right thing, then it is time for you to remove him as your majority leader, and get on with fixing this mess.

Sincerely,
Karen Molenaar Terrell

And Give You a Mug of Chamomile Tea

I read your comment on a friend’s wall
and got all fired up about it all.
“Most rational people feel as I do,”
said you.. “If you were rational, you would, too.
Don’t criticize him. Shut up. Be quiet.”
And in my thoughts you started a riot.
 
But… but… if Love leads us to warn
when our nation’s battered and torn
by moneyed men in their positions of power
and we cover our ears and eyes and cower
and say nothing – aren’t we abandoning our duty
to our country, our God, our own humanity?
 
When you tell others to be quiet, I feel wary –
people telling others to shut up is kind of scary –
when you say “most” and make a generalization
I see bias, I see no logic, I worry for our nation.
So I wrote a response to your weird comment

I clicked on “post” and published my own vent.

And then, curious, I went to your timeline
I wanted to see your face, to see what kind
of person would write those thoughts –
wondering if you were living in some kind of box.
And my mouth fell open when I saw what I saw –
a sweet face, a sweet smile, a white-haired grandma!

My heart felt a tug –
I wanted to give you a hug
and give you a mug
of chamomile tea.
I wonder when you’ll see.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

First-Hand Experience

I recently posted on my Facebook wall a blog post by John Pavlovitz titled The Extinction of the White Male Dinosaur.  In the post, Pavlovitz writes: “In the coming days, the Tweets will become more erratic, the legislative assaults grow more transparently desperate, the hate crimes more brazen, the sermons grow more alarmist and incendiary. These Jurassic, soon-to-be-amber-trapped relics, will act is if the very sky above them is falling, because in very real ways, it is. They will thrash and spit and bellow, in an effort to buy themselves a few more days and a bit more power and another Federal judge or two, but they cannot stave off their inevitable disappearance, as progress and civilization and time swallow them up.”

As you might imagine, the post got a reaction from my Facebook friends. One of my friends asked, “Where does all the venom towards white males come from?”

To which I replied, “I love white males. My father is one. My brothers. My husband. My sons. This blog post (by Pavlovitz) was, in fact, written by a white male. It wasn’t written as an attack on white males, but as an observation of the death of white male privilege. Which I have never liked so much.”

Another friend (a white male) commented, “Please stop spreading the hate.”  He wrote: “One of the biggest problems today is the media. Try turning your television off. Try NOT believing everything you read on social media. Try to have a nice day!”

Here is my response to that comment and other comments like that one:
I don’t generally watch TV news – it’s too upsetting to me – sometimes I’ll watch PBS because they’re not loaded with commercials selling pharmaceuticals and they don’t show the graphic images of death that you see over and over again, replaying on the other networks. I generally get my news from print articles.

Here’s a question for those who ask me to stop sharing my thoughts: If my dad had posted the Pavlovitz blog post would anyone have told him to “stop spreading hate”? I’m guessing not. And I think that is an example, right there, of white male privilege. Dad calls himself a “lifelong Democrat” – his immigrant Dutch father was, in fact, a socialist. Both Dad and Mom were proud to vote for Barack Obama – and celebrated big-time when he won. No one has ever tried to censor Dad’s words or asked him to stop sharing his thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

The blog post by John Pavlovitz that I posted above isn’t about hating anyone. It’s about celebrating the end of a system – an archaic “dinosaur” of a system – that has kept women and minorities underpaid and underemployed – and has kept them from sharing in the power enjoyed by white males in this country for centuries.

I don’t hate Mitch McConnell. I don’t even hate Trump. But I hate the system that put them in power, and has allowed them to tromp all over other people’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And I don’t need to watch the news to know about white male privilege. My life-long experiences as a female, and my job working with mostly minority students,  have given me first-hand experience with this.