As soon as I entered my office on Wednesday morning, people started calling me. The callers are in shock, amazement, at what happened in the presidential race.
I listen, and then I try to help them understand how they feel about Donald Trump, about his vision of “making America great again.” Invariably, they feel that race plays a central role in his vision. They tend to agree that he is eliminating the Barack Obama legacy.
America is the richest, most powerful nation in the history of the world. So what does Trump mean by, “Again?” I wonder if he doesn’t point to the White House, which has become the Black House in leadership, and say, “Let’s make America white again.”
For once, all I can do is shake my head. It’s going to take time for me—and 50 percent of the electorate—to process this shock. Who would have thought that a person anti-this, anti-that could be our president? And apparently he is a hero to half of our nation—or perhaps hero to some and tolerated by many others.
We are not naïve in America. We have been through the worst trials since 1776, and yet we have survived. There is evil as well as good demonstrated in the Bible. Why do we not understand human nature? How long will we be surprised by the negative element among us?
Trump will always be with us. This election has uncovered that many Americans are ultra-conservative – racially, ethnically, sexually, spiritually. That mentality is not going away.
Now, as the world looks upon us, our future is in the hands of people of conscience. It’s in the hands of politicians who are people of morality, of church leaders who can figure out what is good and empower champions of good. We will either rise higher, or we will fall to the depths.
As my spiritual daughter, the Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, said, now is the time for prophetic voices that mobilize us. Indeed, we will have to go by actions, rather than words alone.
All faith groups—the Black Church, Muslim Americans, Catholics and even evangelicals—need to be vigilant for each other and for all minorities.
A good segment of Republicans did not want Trump to be the candidate for president. We need to watch them and encourage them to remain positive in the midst of negativism.
How do you take the thing working against you, and make it work for you? How do you get a positive out of a negative?
I don’t think we’re going to get love out of this raw source. We will have to make it more positive, more loving, worthy of loving ourselves.
In 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech on the very question many are asking today: “Where do we go from here?” “Love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems,” he said. “Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.”
Cecil Murray is retired from the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.