Opinion

Presidential transition is frightening

My lament is real today. That’s what we ministry type people do, we lament. Fancy word for being overwhelmed and disheartened by the reality of things around us. Living within a mournful, anguish that is hard to shake. My lament is very real today.

For in just a matter of a few hours there will be a transition in my government leadership that frightens me. And surprisingly, not so much because of the political ramifications or policy shifts that most assuredly are coming, but more so because of the lack of moral fortitude that has been exhibited by this person elected not by popular vote, but by antiquated systems.

How can we partner in the business of governing and the living out of our greatness when our commander in chief has promoted and built his career and his entire political platform on ego, elitism, and power, control and strength over others? My core drives me, calls me and leads me to believe in others, care for the marginalized and respect all that exists around us.

I could deal with an alternate political agenda, with personal conflicting views on issues of importance in society. I did this for years as a faith-based advocacy official in Washington, D.C.

Many hours have been spent in congressional offices and public hearings. At times, my voice, and that of those I represented, has been heard and at other times they were drowned out by others. That should be the reality of our political process; open, honest debate and reflective negotiation.

How can this occur when the one who sits at the head of the table does not have mind, spirit or heart that is open to hearing any voice other than his own? At times I am distressingly overcome by the lament of my soul and spirit. When my partner shakes with fear and palpable anxiety due to this man’s disregard and abhorrent behavior toward women I shed tears.

First, because no matter how hard I try I cannot understand her level of fear and pain. For I am not her. Just as I am not immigrant, disabled, minority, homeless, transgendered or any of those so mocked and degraded by his word or by his deed.

Secondly, they flow because we as a nation have allowed and participated in making a society that could even allow such moral degradation of others, let alone elect officials who portray it with bravado. I lament that we are not better than who we are.

But I cannot survive in my lament. I will become twisted and torn and destroyed. We must look beyond. For those of us who walk in a faith tradition, “beyond” can be found in our practice of ritual. Moving from lament to supplication to acceptance and renewal.

Again, fancy words for finding strength in ourselves, our faith and in others. I am beginning to do this as I am renewed in the strength of a community that draws together (CDT, Community Inclusion Forum, 1/10) to plan and strategize for addressing critical issues here at home, in our local communities, as we envision less support from state and federal legislation. Lament turns to celebration as I see numbers grow and engage in a weekly public witness at the Allen Street gates.

Hope dawns slowly within my spirit as I hear of congregations and town councils (CDT, Support for Immigrants, 1/9) that pass inclusion statements, welcoming all, judging no one. I climb slowly from my deepness of despair as I hear of plans for welcoming refugees to our community with open arms and see continuing commitment to the various emergency and support shelters and programs that will continue even as funding and federal support might fade away.

I will lament on Friday morning the events on our Capitol lawn, and I will celebrate and be renewed on Saturday at the corner of Independence and 3rd Street as many take to the streets. Such may be the reality of our journey these next few years. Let us be reminded that it has been the reality of countless others throughout our history. In our privileged position we would do well to understand it is our obligation to give voice for all, for everyone, in times such as these.

Phil Jones, of Boalsburg, is a minister and community organizer

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