The Manifesto of Trump Supporters

It’s hard to know where this post originated, but I got it from my niece (who will remain nameless) who shared it on Facebook from a Lydia Lyon.

I call this post the “Manifesto of Trump Supporters,” and it was generated shortly after the election in response to the bafflement that the writer observed in Clinton supporters.

I voted for Clinton. My responses are interspersed within the document.

Dear Democrats and Liberals,

I’m noticing that a lot of you aren’t graciously accepting the fact that your candidate lost. In fact you seem to be posting even more hateful things about those of us who voted for Trump.

I was very disappointed that my candidate did not win the election.

At age 55 I know what it’s like to have my presidential candidate both win and lose, and to be invested in someone’s vision for the country. I’ve never felt this much apprehension about our nation’s future, and I have never feared for a candidate’s supporters as much as I have for you.

Some of you are apparently “triggered”. Because you are posting how “sick” you feel about the results.

Every morning since Nov. 8, 2016, when I wake up, the first thought that enters my head is that your candidate is headed for the White House. I didn’t think it was possible, and I’m convinced that what he seemed to be during the campaign is what he still is today, and that he’s not what his supporters imagine him to be. Yes. I have felt disbelief and sometimes even felt sick. A man who is the least qualified candidate of all of them has won.

How did this happen you ask.

Good question.

You created “us” when you attacked our freedom of speech.

Everyone has the freedom to speak their mind. But we all have to be accountable for what we say. I called Trump supporters out when I thought that their speech was intended to hurt others who I respect and even love. I don’t think I was being “politically correct” to say “ouch!” when I heard you say some of the things that you did at Mr. Trump’s rallies and on social media. I was saying “ouch!” because I believe that all of us should try to treat each other with respect and not seem to go out of our way to hurt one another’s feelings.

But, to repeat, I never thought that you didn’t have the right to say what you think in this great country of ours. I often responded to what you had to say with my own ideas and feelings. I always tried to be respectful, but I wasn’t always successful at that which I regret. Election years can be very tense, even a “blood sport” like an ultimate fighting match. That’s because there’s a lot at stake. For the record, I also felt disrespected by supporters of your candidate.

You created “us” when you attacked our right to bear arms.

I’ve never attacked Americans’ right to bear arms.

I hope that you’re just as concerned about gun violence as I am. I suspect we have that in common. Our difference arises in what to do about it. I don’t believe the answer to gun violence in America is more guns. But I don’t expect to be the one to figure out how to keep my children and friends from being murdered by people with guns in public places. I expect you to do that, since you are passionate about firearms. I rely on moderate gun owners who are concerned about gun violence to come up with real solutions to the problem of gun violence which I have been devastated by, whether it’s at Sandy Hook Elementary, or Columbine, or San Bernardino.

People like me rely on people like you to help the country solve the problem of gun violence. We will all have blood on our hands if we don’t, not just the gunmen who kill our children.

You created “us” when you attacked our Christian beliefs.

It is a terrible thing to be persecuted for one’s faith. I admit to at times dismissing religious folk, including some Christians, who I don’t understand and am even afraid of sometimes because of their zeal. Do you have the right to take your values into the voting booth to vote your conscience? Absolutely.

In my experience, most Liberals and Democrats are generally glad to see how people become their better selves through their faith. Many of us, perhaps unlike you, don’t want to live in a country that is linked to only one faith. And so we ask for room to believe a different way or not to believe at all.

Even if I don’t believe in a particular faith, I believe in the right for people to practice what they believe. But like all of our freedoms, if your beliefs step on the rights of others, then, even as a believer myself, I feel it’s important to come to their defense. Christianity is one of many religions in America for which I’m glad. When I left my childhood religion I am so glad there was another Christian faith that for a time I could identify with and enjoy. By all means, practice your religion as you see fit.

Sometimes I get nervous about public displays of religion at the expense of those who are not believers. And I live in a state where religion and government are largely fused. Americans are smart enough and “Christian” enough to figure out how to keep government and religion separate. I hope you’ll join me in that quest.

You created “us” when you constantly referred to us as racists.

Some of us use the term “racist” too easily and too quickly. It’s hard to be called a racist or a sexist because there’s not a snappy comeback to that. (I know because sometimes I’ve been called sexist.) Is it fair to say, however, that we can all be bigoted from time to time, and that often our collective bigotry is where terrible things have stemmed in the past and even today?

I think it’s better to say that certain policies are racist, or bigoted, or sexist. But it’s easier (and perversely more satisfying) to call someone a “racist.” Just as Trump supporters say things that are misunderstood or downright provocative or mean, so progressives do as well. It’s probably because we are all afraid of being discounted by some other group.

All of us should matter to each other. That’s not only the American thing, but the religious thing. It’s also just the “right” thing to do to our fellow human beings. There are racists among us. But there is bigotry in all of us. When I am at my best, I believe that tolerance is a discipline that we all need to cultivate every day. Name-calling just makes it all worse. Which is why I object to your candidate: even though many of his supporters are not racist, you voted for someone who has demonstrated that he is. And that naturally concerns a lot of us.

You created “us” when you constantly called us xenophobic.

It’s natural to be afraid of outsiders or “xenophobic” to a degree. I’m xenophobic. It’s biological. But when it turns into a policy progressives like me start to worry, as should all of us. It’s a very short skip and a hop between being suspicious of people not like us and targeting them as a scapegoat–someone to blame for our troubles.

As with me, I suspect that you are very kind and understanding of someone who comes into your family through marriage, even if they are different. Would you agree with me that America is largely built on the idea that we are all outsiders who came together to form a “more perfect union”? We sort of constructed our own “family” of outsiders; we constructed our “own” United States.

Our better selves, which are inspired by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, humanist and other spiritual values, teach us that the impulse to exclude others to protect our “way of life” might be necessary at times. But these spiritual values also teach us that if we aren’t examining what our “way of life” is and what its faults may be, then we will seek someone to blame, to drive out, to maybe even kill.

Even Christianity teaches that we are all “strangers in a strange land,” so we should make sure our government doesn’t make policies that exclude others just because they are different from us, whether because of race, sex, economic class, creed, or sexual orientation.

You created “us” when you told us to get on board or get out of the way.

It’s never okay to discount our fellow citizens, and if you have felt this way, I’m sorry for that. These past 10 years have been especially difficult for all of us. Many of us lost our homes in the Great Recession. We lost our jobs to . . . we don’t even know where they went, really.

Drug abuse and alcoholism and teen suicide are real problems that tear at the fabric of our lives. Organized religion, including most Christian sects, are losing members, and it doesn’t appear that there’s any civilizing force to replace it. It’s sometimes hard to feel like you’re a member of a community anymore, especially if you’re introverted or shy.

Here’s something that I hope you will consider: In a democracy you not only have the right to speak your mind . . . you have the obligation to do it. The Republic we live in relies on your input. A union of separate individuals is stronger and smarter than just one person, or one political party going at it alone. You are a part of that national conversation, and I hope you never let anyone tell you otherwise.

You created “us” when you forced us to buy health care and then financially penalized us for not participating.

You’re probably not going to like my response to this claim.

The Obama Administration made a choice to press the country into a new healthcare system because healthcare costs were exploding and access to healthcare was disappearing. The Republicans didn’t like “Obamacare” (The Affordable Care Act or “ACA”), but they didn’t offer a new plan either. They seemed to prefer the status quo, even though it wasn’t working.

But the country we all claim to love, including, the party that was in power at the time (Democrats, led by Barack Obama) and the Supreme Court of the land, determined together that, for the good of the country, everyone needed to be covered by medical insurance. To make this happen–arguably the only way to make this happen–was for the government to fine its citizens if they chose to become a burden on the state by not being covered.

I’m sorry if you feel burdened by the fines. But dismantling “Obamacare” isn’t the answer. And we are finding out that at least in Kentucky, where there’s been a survey, most Trump supporters did not vote for your candidate so that he could suspend the initiative they now rely on for medical care. Perhaps you still do want to see the ACA repealed as Trump promised (and which he since has changed his mind about.) My question is, what will you replace it with? I’m open to your suggestions. Talking it out with Liberals and Democrats is better for you and your children, and your grandchildren . . . better, I think, than burning something down before you have something realistic to replace it.

You created “us” when you allowed our jobs to continue to leave our country.

Agreed. It’s a terrible thing when a country’s government, supported by the wealthy who are overly enthusiastic for “free trade,” allow jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, to go overseas. But this is the fault of both Conservatives / Republicans and Liberals / Democrats. It’s the fault of all of us, even those of us, like me, who lost our jobs. How is it OUR fault, you ask? Because none of us had the foresight that this was happening, or what the consequences would be long-term. America has been caught with its pants down. And we are suffering now for it. What is the answer to losing jobs? I want to know what you think, because I genuinely don’t have a firm answer to solve the problem.

You created “us” when you attacked our flag.

It’s my flag too, not just yours. I hate seeing our flag desecrated by those overseas or by my fellow Americans. If you remember, though, in your very first claim above, you said that I “attacked your freedom of speech.” No one should have their freedom of speech attacked. It is an American right.

We may agree that desecrating the flag is not a good thing, that it angers and saddens us. But we don’t have the right in America to tell someone they can’t desecrate the flag, or the Cross, or to display the swastika. It’s a right we all have, and we should honor it–not the bad behavior, but the right of our fellow citizens to behave that way.

You created “us” when you confused women’s rights with feminism.

Agreed. Women’s rights are not the same as feminism. One of my greatest complaints of some feminists is that they moved away from winning equal rights for women and seemed to make the women’s movement a war between the sexes. Some of them also appeared to denigrate the choices some women made to live traditional lives. This has wrecked some havoc, especially as both men and women, in a contest of wills, have sometimes abandoned children without anyone to care for them. I know of what I speak, because I’ve raised a grandchild for his entire life,  and he’s now 23 years old. Some people use the language of feminism to justify bad behaviors.

I still honor women, and I still claim to be a feminist. It is a hard thing to see my ten sisters (yep, ten!) and daughter, my nieces and mother–and even the candidate of my choice this year–be discounted, condescended to and obstructed in reaching their full potential as leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, soldiers, athletes and equal citizens under the law. That kind of bigotry should not be tolerated, especially in a public setting and not in our leaders. It should not be tolerated in a presidential candidate, such as you have tolerated and sometimes even celebrated in the now president-elect.

We should all fight for the rights of all Americans to make their own choices. It’s a lie that there isn’t enough for all of us, both genders, to have a rich and rewarding life. Women’s roles must change because women have for too long been second class citizens. Men are there to help women achieve their potential, and so are women there to help men achieve their’s while caring for their children together. We need each other, both sexes, to make America great and new as we move forward.

You created “us” when you began to emasculate men.

I actually believe that men don’t have it easy these days. Maybe I believe this only because I’m male, or because I’m middle-aged, or because I’m white. But I also believe that men make it harder on themselves when they have a preconceived notion about what a “man” is: either an asshole or a coward.

I’ll bet you can think of male role models who are something else other than these two extremes, men whose behavior and character are elevating and transforming. Perhaps these role models are your minister or pastor. Perhaps they are political leaders who are strong but kind. Perhaps you’re thinking that Jesus is this kind of role model.

Too many women hold to the same asshole-coward lie about manhood just as many men do. There is a place for men in the great and new America that we see on the horizon and that we are speeding towards. The world only spins forward. There’s no going back. And in my experience, masculinity is just as fluid and diverse and amazing as femininity is.

You created “us” when you decided to make our children soft.

We all cringe when someone, especially someone we don’t know, disciplines their child in public in a way that offends us. In extreme cases, we are all required to step in and even involve the law (which is the last resort, in my view), to protect children from harm.

That is a tough decision to make. And I agree that the laws are not clear and getting involved in the “system” can be harrowing, and not always the right choice. There is a risk that all of us will make our children “soft” when we fail to properly parent with what is commonly known as “tough love.”

It seems that many if not most of us aren’t raising our children anymore. But that isn’t just a Liberal / Democratic flaw. We’re all in the same boat. We distract our children with televisions and smart phones, movies and play dates. And then we drop them off at school and get mad at their teachers for not socializing them. Why should they? We can’t even socialize our own children anymore. Why do we expect their teachers to be able to?

Okay. You’ve identified the problem, or at best a symptom of a problem, but what’s the solution? Really . . . what is a real solution to that problem? Who makes a child “soft”?

You created “us” when you decided to vote for progressive ideals.

I make no apology for my progressive ideals. (And thank you for calling them “ideals” and not something else that makes them sound less worthy.) The same could be said for “conservative” ideals. When I’m thinking clearly and generously, I believe we need both progressive and conservative ideals in order for the country to work. It’s called dialogue. And compromise. It means checking one set of ideals with the other so that one doesn’t become a runaway train.

I have a Conservative in me, and I’ll bet you have a Liberal in you. It just depends on what the issue happens to be. No one “created” you but yourself, but you make a good point that one side of the conversation in extreme is not good for the nation. It takes two to tango. And it’s also true that two heads are better than one. Progressive ideals and conservative ideals are both valuable and needed. They keep the country moving forward towards greatness and provide a new vision of the way things can be. Either side can become radical or reactionary–extremes of something good. Let’s not do that!

You created “us” when you attacked our way of life.

Maybe the divisions between someone like you and someone like me isn’t about values, most of which I suspect as Americans we share. Maybe the lifestyle that you feel is being attacked has more do do with our differing entitlements. We all have them, on both sides of the political divide.

What do I mean by entitlements?

  • retirement at age 65
  • unfettered gun ownership
  • socialized medicine
  • the right to go to the ER for a toothache
  • a military of consigned soliders to fight our wars instead of a draft
  • tax-funded public schools
  • school vouchers
  • gas guzzlers
  • vacations
  • tax credits for solar panels
  • subsidies for ranchers and farmers

We even feel entitled not to have to wait in line . . . anywhere. But mostly we all feel entitled to have everything we want, when we want it.

Lately, especially since 9/11 and the Great Recession, we haven’t gotten what we thought we deserved and we are pretty darn mad about it. Because we still felt entitled to these things, we started to look for someone to blame for our misery. We are having a national temper tantrum. Many of us spent ourselves into oblivion. We didn’t pay our bills. Visa off the charts! We lost our “lifestyle.” We can’t blame our parents since our parents are continually bailing us out financially (and making us “soft,” as you put it), but we can blame someone else who we don’t really know but who exists somewhere out there in Americaland without a face or an actual name. They’re just part of a group that unwise leaders and commentators on cable TV and even some of those in our Christian churches start pointing fingers at.

Your candidate shamelessly exploited these entitlements that we all have and made promises that he would make it all “great again.”

But great again for whom? Certainly not for the scapegoats that he keeps pointing to unfairly. And this is the real bummer: he’s not going to make it great for you either.

Mr. Trump is not going to tell us that we have to sacrifice for the good of the country. He’s going to tell us that we can have it all back, and that it wasn’t our fault that we overspent and didn’t pay our bills, that America is a mess, right now. He’s going to tell us what a very dark part of all us wants to believe. Because we’re afraid of what the alternative is: we will have to question what we are really entitled to in this country.

Donald Trump has lied to you. He’s lied to all of us. That’s just what he does. He even lies about things that he doesn’t have to lie about. He isn’t going to give you what you want. He can’t even remember now what he promised to do because he’s now changing his mind as fast as it takes for him to send a Tweet.

You created “us” when you decided to let our government get out of control.

Where were you when the government was getting “out of control”? You were there too. You were voting (or not voting) for government officials who were getting us into bogus wars, bailing out the banks, not bailing you out adequately from your debts and on and on and . . . on.

Since we live in a nation where people get to vote, we all get the government we deserve. The government that “got out of hand,” as you put it was a government chosen by you and me and exploited by you and me when we declared bankruptcy, collected Social Security, or couldn’t pay our bill at the emergency room because we chose not to have health insurance. But, keep in mind it’s also the “out of control government” that kept us safe from terrorist attacks, paved the roads so that we could safely get to grandmother’s house for Christmas day, paid for our children’s education, and tried to tamp down spiraling health care costs.

“You” created “us” the silent majority. And we became fed up and we pushed back and spoke up.

It’s a terrible thing to feel as though your voice doesn’t count. To feel as though you’ve been silenced. I feel your pain. I live in a very red state, the reddest of the red by some measures, and every time I feel like I am going to be represented in Congress by someone who shares my values (and perhaps more important, my entitlements), the Republican party changes the boundaries of my congressional district to exclude what I call “progressives” like me–what you are calling Liberals / Democrats.

See, my vote didn’t seem to count. I felt silenced, just as you do. It’s a terrible thing.

I’m glad you’ve finally spoken up and voted. But the reasons you’ve given for coming out and voting as a group for Trump are based on what you think I did to you. I made you do this. I made you do that. I created you. Really? You didn’t create yourself? You didn’t have any choices? Certainly you have more self-worth than to believe that you are my victim.

When I feel “fed up,” as you put it, I can usually only identify the force that I’m pushing against. I can’t see through my rage. When I am only reacting I make some major blunders, blunders that I can’t see because I’m too busy trying to make sure that everyone knows that it’s not my fault. None of it is my fault. I was “created” by forces over which I had no control. So . . . I lash out.

Big mistake. I have injured many of my family members by being reactionary to forces real but most often imagined while making sure I appear blameless and a victim of others. I have also injured my community and my country when I have lashed out with anger, self-righteousness and a stubborn refusal to see how I am implicated in the problems of my own life.

. . . And we did it with ballots, not bullets.

So this is your last comment, and it is one that horrifies me because I never thought I would say this to a fellow American:

“Thank you for voting instead of picking up one of your guns and shooting me to death. I am grateful that you aren’t roaming the streets with firearms, pointing them at my children and at my place of work, at schools and policemen, churches and hospitals. Thank you.”

If I thought that Donald Trump could take away your pain, could make America great again–whatever that may mean to you–I would probably quietly sign off here and go about my little life as one whose candidate just didn’t win, darn it!

But I don’t believe the president-elect even hears you let alone will be able to help you. He isn’t what you think he is. He has deceived you; he has deceived all of us, and even now, more than a month after election night he is already backtracking on the promises he made.

Why? Because he doesn’t see you. He doesn’t hear you. He sees only a reflection of himself in the crowds and crowds of people reacting to their own and each other’s anger, to their rage . . . and, I will admit here, to their grief.

He doesn’t hear or see you, friend. But you know what? I hear you, and I see you. You’re my co-workers, my doctor, the guy that grows my food, the unemployed factory worker, the student trying to pay of her student loans. And I want the best part of you to be a part of the America I love and hope for. Just as, I think, you would like the best part of me to be a part of the America you love and hope for.

There is a place for the blood sport of an election year; each of us will fight hard to see our candidate win. But the election is now over. I concede: Hillary Clinton will not be our next president.

Now we need to look into each other’s eyes and smile (or sometimes grumble) at each other, and find common solutions to all of our problems. We need to give up our entitlements whether they be unlimited access to firearms, or unlimited reproductive rights, or unlimited right to destroy the air and the land, or unearned respect just because we have more education, more money or more religion. We don’t get our cookies and milk from the government, or from a single man or woman who holds the office of President of the United States. We get our cookies and milk, our friendship and our love, our self-worth and our voice from each other.

We have much more in common than either of us think. For one thing we both now feel discounted thoroughly by the other. Where do we go from here? What do our values tell us we should do? Is America at its end because its citizens couldn’t look longingly and compassionately into the eyes of each other?

I hear you, and I see you.

I hope you can hear and see me as well.

#

© Copyright, David G. Pace, 2016

Fred George, Ash Wednesday, Dusk, 9/12/01, New-York Historical Society, Gift of Here is New York

 

Keep in Check your Cherished Opinions, then . . .

the-answer

Check Your Cherished Opinions

Stand Up and Be Counted

Compromise for the Benefit of the Collective

On the eve of the 2016 election, I am at rest. No more campaigning. No more snappy rejoinders on Facebook. No more snark. And while I believe there is a time to play the game of electoral politics–as bloody as it can get–it’s time now to put down the sword.

I’m not proud of all of my public communications–and by that I mean my expressions in newspapers, conversations and social media. I am guilty of baiting at times. I am too-easily triggered: flooded with emotions that touch on my cherished opinions.

What do I mean by “cherished opinions”? They are opinions that are no longer scrutinized, examined, or re-evaluated. As with most if not all people, I have my fair share of cherished opinions. A brief sampling right now:

  • All Republicans are misinformed at best and dangerous at worst;
  • Religious fundamentalists should not be given any kind of public platform (or tax breaks);
  • Aspirin every day is going to keep me from having a heart attack.

Actually, that last item is a good example of how cherished opinions are formed. I don’t remember what article it was on the internet. I think it was multiple medical opinions over the course of several years. But at one point, I read one particular article that suggested that an aspirin a day was going to help me avoid heart trouble later.

To me, taking one pill a day as quick as you please was a no-brainer, especially consdering that it was going to help me by such and such a percentage. So forming that opinion was great, because it required a dang easy behavior. But what has happened since that notable time, other than the fact that I’ve bought and consumed a LOT of aspirin, is that I don’t think about the truth behind the claim anymore. I just do it.

Well, guess what? Nothing . . . nothing is so simple as a cherished opinion, including aspirin as a pancea for heart trouble. In fact, taking aspirin every day has its downside. And, more pernicious than that, I’m the kind of guy (lazy) that might very quickly use my quotidian dosage of aspirin as an excuse not to do anything else for my heart, even though statistically (and congenitally) I’m prone to suffer if not die from it.

Me: I don’t have to worry about my drinking and lack of exercise.

The Universe: Why is that?

Me: I take aspirin!

My call to action here at the end of the 2016 electoral cycle and all of the knuckleheadery that’s been going on is this:

Check your Cherished Opinions

Stand Up and Be Counted

Compromise for the Benefit of the Collective

About three weeks out from Nov. 8, 2016, when the fatigue from campaign anxiety was setting in (what David Plouffe calls “bed-wetting“), my wife Cheryl and I posted a blog on Medium to try to get people to talk, in a non-partisan way, about what it means to vote one’s conscience:  “how do we distinguish the inspired voice of conscience from the prejudicial voice of our cherished but perhaps unsupported opinions?”

We got very few responses. One in fact, as of Nov. 7, 2016 . . . a very thoughtful one, I might add. But most people seemed to be finished with all of the craziness of email scandals and Trump rallies. They didn’t want to think or comment on any of it. Not in an abstract, philosophical way. We were all too busy swinging our swords.

So, to suggest something about opinion-making and opinion-checking, morality is a philosophy of equality. Therefore, to vote one’s conscience is to cast a vote for the good of one’s self and everyone else. No one should tell you not to vote your conscience. It’s not only the right thing to do but, for moral individuals, it’s the only thing you can do when you enter the voting booth. That includes strategically voting (I’m going to vote for this guy, even though I despise him, so that that candidate over there has less of a chance of winning.)

That said, here’s another claim: Conscience evolves with greater understanding. Cheryl and I used the example of slavery in America and how, arguably, the consicence of Americans did indeed evolve, which led to emancipation. And we conclude with this: “The voice of cherished opinion is a smug one. But the voice of conscience is arguably a very uncomfortable one. Conscience at work has an overwhelming tendency, it seems, to undermine certainty and to require courage.”

That’s what I mean by keeping in check one’s cherished opinions.

 

Stand Up and Be Counted

I used to teach public speaking at Westminer College in Salt Lake City, and I taught it as a civics course for a couple of reasons: first, speeches (i.e., communications or presentations) that we are familiar with as a collective tend to be based on issues of political and social concern; and, second, it doesn’t seem that we even teach civics anymore in high school or college.

My agenda with my students was this: in a democracy, not only do you have the right to express your opinion, you have the obligation to express it. For the good of The Republic. We need everyone’s voice. But we also need conscientious warrants for the arguments we make, along with a sense of the ebb and flow, the dialectic, to reference Aristotle, the author of The Rhetoric, (“the art of persuasion”) and arguably the father of communication studies.

As an aside, with the raucous surge of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump voters this year, it has occurred to me that the election cycle has been especially turbulent because there are so many newcomers to the game. The learning curve of making democracy is hard-wired, I believe, but there is a learning curve. Not that everyone who supports either of these sample candidates are neophytes, or are “uninitiated,” but many, I posit, were / are. We need to welcome them, but we also need mentor what it means to form rather than adopt opinions, especially when there’s so much at stake, as in an election.

I don’t believe it is in our best interests to eliminate any of the voices of the American people, even when they are pointed and harsh. As a country, we have our laws. For example, “fighting words” are not allowed. And our free speech tradition will always err on the side of a big tent approach to public discourse. Rightly so.

To conclude this section: we need everyone’s voice to make democracy–as messy as it is–work.

So stand up . . . and be counted. Vote.

 

Compromise for the Benefit of the Collective

If we believe that we can be blinded by our own cherished opinions, and if we believe that we have (along with everyone else) not only the right but the obligation to speak our mind, then we are more likely to see compromise, not as a four-letter word, but as the way things actually work in our world . . . arguably, the only way that things work sustainably in our world.

Our expressions of opinion, the reasons and warrants we give for those opinions, the data or “facts” that we present to support why we have come to a conclusion–the candidate we endorse and campaign for–they become a moral act. And a moral act is a sustainable act, a communal act, and social act in the best sense of the word “social.”

In this scenario of forming opinions consicously, our conscience, as evolving as it is, remains intact. We may disagree with each other, but we understand again, using the dialectical model of Aristotle, that real world behaviors–behaviors that take place in commerce, in family arrangements, in law and in politics–they are a product and a glorification if you will, of communicative acts.

This back-and-forth dynamic is how a good conversation happens, if you think about it. You and your friend get together over coffee or drinks, or a small family group gathers over dinner, and you discuss, you explore, you laugh and you ponder. You express and you hold back. You counter. You add more information, hopefully truthful information, inflected by your good will for those with whom you are communicating.

When a decision is required, you make that decision, but you do it together. You can’t do it alone. You can’t do it by edict. (I mean you can, but eventually those you’ve imposed your edict on are going to, rightly, rebel. Then we really do have a revolution, and another problem since people get hurt pretty badly in a revolution.)

So this is what I’ve been thinking of late, in between taking my aspirin every day; finding out that red wine is good for me . . . but wait . . . now it’s not; that free trade is essential to “lifting all boats” and being a bridge to the new century . . . but, wait a minute, not when it categorically risks decimating our work force; that war is always regrettable, but sometimes will happen, particularly in defense of the homeland (but not for the purposes of exploitative globalization, or getting more oil).

I’ve been thinking about this and I realize that after tomorrow–whoever wins the presidency, the Senate, the House . . . the school board, we have our work cut out for us. And you know what? It will actually be work that is gratifying. So that the next time the election season cycles back in, we’ll be more prepared for it. We’ll be more humane. We’ll be more helpful. And we will better thrive.

Check your Cherished Opinions

Stand Up and Be Counted

Compromise for the Benefit of the Collective

crisis

 

 

Frank’s Buick: Personal Essay (Alligator Juniper)

buick

This essay was first published in the literary journal Alligator JuniperIt was later republished in the debut batch of Phone Fiction, an online platform for reading short fiction (and literary essays) on your mobile device. (Very cool).

Frank is my late father-in-law who died in 1997. I inherited his car. It wasn’t easy…at first.

“I’m not sure when my late father-in-law’s town car became our car. It wasn’t when we wrested it from Mom, who we decided couldn’t safely operate it anymore. It wasn’t when we changed the title to my name. For even after that, I saw it as Frank’s Buick, a.k.a. the Batmobile, so named because of its dual automatic “ComforTemp” controls in the front seats (leather), its “Twilight Sentinel” feature that turns the headlights onand off depending on how light it is outside, the heated windshield, the cruise control with automatic reset, the illuminated entry system around door locks, the electric radio antennae that telescopes into hiding every time you turn off the radio.

“The sexy stereo system. …”

More

 

Alligator

WHAT IS AN ETHNIC MORMON?: Huffington Post

 

o-OCEAN-EXPLORATION-facebook Huffington

This conversation with blogger Mette Ivie Harrison appeared on Huffington Post Dec. 1, 2015. At the time, the LDS (Mormon) Church had made a policy change that the children of cohabiting (conjugal) gay parents–now considered “apostate”–would not be allowed to be blessed, or baptized into the Church or otherwise be officially considered a church member. 

As some Mormons decided to resign their membership in protest over this announcement, the question of what’s left after leaving the institution again came up. Thus, this conversation about “ethnic Mormonism,” which is something I have long advocated for.

Mette is a regular contributor to HuffPost, and she invited me to share my ideas with her in a conversational format. Mette is LDS and a best-selling author, most recently of The Bishop’s Wife and the sequel His Right Hand, two mysteries set in Draper, Utah. She was also kind enough to blurb my book Dream House on Golan Drive, which is how we met.

“Today, a conversation with author David Pace about the growing numbers of ‘ethnic Mormons,’ those who grow up Mormon, but for various reasons leave the church, and how Mormons may need to make a bigger tent to include them.

“Q:  When I first started to articulate some of my doubts about Mormonism with non-Mormon friends, they asked me why I didn’t create my own church. Take what I loved about Mormonism and move on. Or find a splinter group that matched my own ideas better. It’s a very Protestant view of religion, and I struggled to explain to them that the choices in terms of splinter groups were slim and grim pickings. As for creating my own church, growing up as Mormon meant that I had an abhorrence of “priestcraft,” quite apart from my introverism and general disinterest in organizing large groups in any form.

“David, what are your thoughts on this?” More

ENDOWING THE OLYMPIC MASSES: Review of “Light of the World” at the 2002 Winter Olympics

Conference center 2

In 2002, the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City was an opportunity for the LDS Church to present itself to the world. The theatrical extravaganza titled “Light of the World” was staged downtown at the new indoor Conference Center which seats a whopping 22,000.

This review which appeared in Dialogue, attempts to illuminate how the corporate church, famous for its global proselyting efforts, chose to see itself on the world stage.

 “REFASHIONED BEYOND RECOGNITION, Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Games in February 2002. While the world partied Olympically—Budweisers in hand, whooping it up in chaotic street fetes—Latter-day Saints found haven in the
LDS Conference Center. With its open door and rich collection of cultural artifacts, the center functions not just as an auditorium, but arguably as the Latter-day Saints’ first cathedral, with side ‘chapels’ designed for devotional and historical art and architecture, and deeply symbolic fixtures, from doorknobs and seat upholstery to windows and waterfalls. The new building is not only an ecclesiastical seat, as in traditional cathedrals, but also a multi-use common where Mormon and non-Mormon can potentially converse with the highest values of the Mormon community.”

Download the pdf to read the full review. 

LightOfTheWorld

The Kingdom of Tom Green (Essay)

In this essay I talk about the persistence of polygamy (plural marriage) in the faith of my childhood and the tradition of my choice: Mormonism.

Polygamy reigned on both sides of my family during the 19th Century when founding prophet Joseph Smith Jr. instigated the practice in the Mississippi River town of Nauvoo, Illinois. Despite multiple efforts to divorce itself from the practice, the LDS Church is still haunted by the hold of polygamy which continues among those in the Mormon movement.

So does “lying for the Lord,” the imperative that my ancestors were given to hide this peculiar practice of “spiritual wifery” from the law of the land. My argument in this essay is that this kind of mendacity continues in the current LDS population which regularly protects the institutional church above all else–even (and especially) if they have to lie to themselves.

Tom Green, Polygamist

Tom Green, Polygamist

“IN 1988, I wasn’t sure I liked having a
wife, and I hardly wanted another one.
So I don’t think it was because I lusted
after more conjugal living that, during a
stand-off that year between law-enforcement officials and Utah polygamists, I found myself quietly rooting for the guy with more than one wife.”

Download the PDF of Sunstone and read the essay beginning on pg. 8.

Polygamy

 

The Decamerous Sisters Club: Personal Essay

This essay is a valentine to my ten sisters who several years ago became obsessed with the Oregon-based musical group PINK MARTINI.

Originally, this piece won the Writers at Work narrative nonfiction contest and was later published in the journal Quarterly West. Later it was republished by Phone FIction, which is where you can read it today.

women dancing

“My only brother Brent was patient zero. It was he who first heard on National Public Radio about the musical group Pink Martini and in turn began infecting my sisters with the hysteria of the group’s hot Latin, jazz and classical mix. But it was my brother-in-law Scott who is responsible for bringing my sisters to near ruin. He was the one who, munching Cheerios one morning at the table with his children, read in the newspaper that the Martini was due to perform in our home state of Utah. Without thinking—I am sure he was not thinking—he told his wife, my sister Stephenie, who screamed so loudly at the news that five-year-old Ben turned to his younger sister Gracie and said, ‘My Heck! What’s with mom?’” Read the entire essay on Phone Fiction

 

THIS I BELIEVE: Letting Go

In this Aug 16, 2008 talk I was asked to participate in a THIS I BELIEVE session at the Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium. I was one of, I believe, six speakers who were tasked with illuminating . . . well, what we believe. 

I was pretty pleased with how this turned out, even though my delivery includes a lot of pursing of lips. What was that all about? Nervousness?

“What if the wheel [of religion] itself is unnecessary? I believe in daily giving myself and others permission to abandon religion.”

watch the entire video

religionsunstone

DESPERATELY SEEKING SPIRIT: Review of Martha Beck’s “Leaving the Saints”

Beck
Martha Beck’s Leaving the Saints is valuable . . .  .Why? Because in my view the book is so very Mormon. There are rich and telling descriptions of the Church and of Mormon culture, particularly as it configures in Utah Valley,more precisely at church-owned Brigham Young University. Many of us are apt to resonate with Beck’s account of the young Latter-day Saint leaving Zion, then returning home with not only religious questions but an invigorating sense of the expanding context in which Mormonism and the LDS Church nest. Her account of the disturbinconfluence of family, faith, and culture triggered by exposure to the world opens up the question of why many Latter-day Saints—surely one of the great globetrotting groups of the world—can remain so cloistered, so inoculated from the world outside themselves. Read the entire review here, beginning on pg. 82.
The response to this book was outrageous. Even the godfather of self-help books, the late Stephen R. Covey (of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame), went insane when he heard about the publication of the book which includes sexual abuse claims by Beck about her Mormon celebrity father, Hugh Nibley. (Covey, a friend of Oprah Winfrey’s, actually tried to derail the publication of the book and to discredit it wholesale since Beck was, by then, a columnist at Winfrey’s O Magazine.) The lunacy of it all was palpable.
This review was originally my comments on the book’s publication as a panelist at the Sunstone Symposium, the year the book was published by Random House’s Crown imprint. I worked those comments into a book review which later appeared in Irreantum, a Mormon literary journal (now defunct), published by the Association for Mormon Letters where I was the sections editor for 5 years. I took some heat for this review, but in the passive-aggressive way that I often experience as “the Mormon way.” Even so, I stand by my review which doesn’t let Beck off the hook for her savagery. This is one of the best nonfiction descriptions of life in the Mormon hothouse that has yet to see the light of day on a national level.
Hugh Nibley, 1983 Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU

Hugh Nibley, 1983
Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU

Author Martha Beck

Author Martha Beck

 

OUR BIG FAT TEMPLE WEDDINGS: Who’s In Who’s Out and How Do We Get Together?

Greek Wedding

This paper was first read at the annual Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City. It was later published as an essay in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 36 No. 3 (Fall 2003)

“THE POPULAR FILM MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING suggests that enthic families will flood pell mell into any space provided by a family member who announces she or he is getting married. In the case of writer / actor Nia Vardalo’s paean to Greek-American culture, the results are funny, raucous, even slightly grotesque. Her groom who falls in love with a spinster waitress is a sort of white-bread Protestant himself. Along with his stiff Anglo-parents, he becomes completely absorbed by the overwhelming insistence of well-meaning Greeks living in a sort of parallel universe . . . .This, of course, brings me to Mormons, a self-identifying peculiar people and arguably their own ethnic group.”

Listen to the Complete Podcast

temple weddings