Opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump remains passionate. The recent march on January 21 2017 in DC pulsed with anti-Trump frenzy, quickly shedding its poor disguise as a “women’s march.” I heard “Not my President, not my President” chanted by diverse groups, from global warming enthusiasts to abortion advocates to Black Lives Matter protestors.
The marchers thoroughly enjoyed every sign, chant, or speech that trashed Trump. This week’s opposition to President Trump’s executive order PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES has stoked hysteria with fake news headlines decrying a Muslim ban in the United States and a religious test for immigrants.
Passion like this does not stick to the streets. Since I first publicly shared my interest in Donald Trump and his voters, I have received considerable criticism from some friends and associates. As my interest evolved into support for the Trump/Pence ticket, the criticism turned to denigration and even disavowal. On Inauguration Day, as I joined the celebrations in Washington, this text pinged me.
“I am so sad today, realizing that our friendship is really over. I am in mourning for our country and in mourning over us. … I do not want you part of my life.”
I plopped down and sighed. So my most treasured friend, with whom I’ve shared for decades secrets, sadnesses and joys, was dumping me over my support for Donald Trump. A few days later she added,
“Your “feminism” isn’t real, your beliefs are damaging the world. I have never felt so disappointed in someone.”
These remarks were beyond difference of opinion – they were delivered coldly and impersonally, without the benefit of a phone call or personal contact. More, my friend decided to unload her anti-Trumpism on me knowing that I was in the midst of a difficult and likely final visit with my failing mother. Whether my friend purposefully decided to be cruel to me or whether her anti-Trump passion seemed to justify such cruel behavior, I do not know.
I am not the only person suffering cruelty because of support for President Trump’s candidacy. Being from California, where many of the bereaved now seek to secede from the Union, I may have more of these stories to tell than some. But I doubt it. Friends have confided similar tales of unprovoked hostility and tension within families and between friends. Commentators like Pierce Morgan and celebrities like Steve Harvey report verbal attacks from people who object to their links to President Trump.
These attacks are painful – especially when they come from family members or people with whom we have substantial histories and whom we call friends. The vitriol can be breathtaking, even shocking as we recognize that our love and caring has been swallowed by hostility we did not know possible. This behavior challenges us to frame a response that does not set off or condone a cycle of attack and bitterness.
Here’s the guide I have developed for myself. Please share your own thoughts in the comments.
Prepare to forgive. Even as I was reeling from my friend’s attack, I knew that I had eventually to forgive her. This is both a matter of my faith practice and a practical reality. All long-term loves ebb and wan with our own changes in belief and opinion and physical capacities – my friend and I have differed many times and we have practice forgiving each other. I did not make her graduation from graduate school when I said I would and she was gracious and forgiving. We pointedly argued once over teenagers and their sex practices – but we moved on to a calmer subject. Even if her attacks turn out to be a grand finale to our wonderful, long relationship, I knew I would have to find a way to move on, free of bitterness and remorse. “Forgiveness,” Joyce Meyer reminds us, “is not a feeling – it’s a decision we make to do what’s right before God. It’s a quality decision that won’t be easy and it may take time to get through the process
Remain loving and charitable. I knew forgiveness would be easier if I did not muck up the situation with my own clever retorts, quips and volleys. Tempting as it was, I did not branch to the merits of Trump vs. Clinton; I did not question whether our friendship was ever real if so disposable; and I did not ignore her. Instead, I waited several days, prayed, reflected, sought advice and then, briefly, I reassured her of my “unconditional love” and asked her to pray for my failing mother.
Set boundaries. When my friend responded without a mention of my mother or concern for me, focused entirely on her disgust with my “agenda” and “damaging” beliefs, I was devastated. Could she really be so filled with anti-Trump passion that my mother’s decline and impending death meant nothing to her? Could she be purposefully ignoring my personal situation as “punishment” for having supported the Trump/Pence ticket? Surely, she knew that she was withholding from me the very essence of our friendship – the love and caring we have shown each over for decades especially in our dynamics with our families of origin. Ouch.
As my friend’s words continued to distract me and eat at me, I recognized that I now had a boundary problem. “One sure sign of boundary problems,” Dr. Henry Cloud has written, “is when your relationship with one person has the power to affect your relationships with others. You are giving one person way too much power in your life.” Boundaries are my way of taking charge of my own feelings – so that I do not reel and roil because another person, no matter how dear, has tried to impose their feelings and issues as my problem.
So I have returned the problem to my friend. I posed several questions for her to answer if she chooses, including “Have you actually abandoned me?” and asked that she communicate with me in person. I do not know if she will respond. Perhaps not. But the ball is her court – her passion and hostility are her problem, not mine.
Rabid anti-Trumpism in any other form would be considered hateful, intolerant, and prejudicial, like other emotional attacks based upon race, sex, religion, or sexual preference. Virulent anti-Trumpism seeks no dialogue, no understanding, and no rational exchange – it is as destructive and irrational as any other bigotry used to justify cruelty towards others.
Rational opponents of President Trump and his rapid-fire policy positions exist, embracing traditional forms of debate and disagreement to which we are all accustomed. Snarky humor, point-counterpoint, and appeals to law, codes of morality, and tradition characterize these exchanges. True to form, artist and Clinton supporter Jayne Riew of New York City undertook one of the most elegant of such interactions with her photo-essay project “She’s With Him.” Ms. Riew presents seven women who voted for Trump, women she sought out after the election when she was “repelled by the ugly stereotypes and facile theories about [Trump’s female] supporters.” She adds,
“In many parts of American, female Trump supporters knew that had to keep their voting intentions hidden, not just from pollsters, but from people close to them. That intrigued me. What else did they have to say?”
I’ve bookmarked Ms. Riew’s website so that I can return to it again and again. Some days, it’s my only reminder of the difference – the difference between opposition to Trump policies and the anti-Trumpism unleashed upon us.
Politics and religion, both cause a great deal of pain and sorrow in the world. I am sorry that you have to endure this, but your choice to forgive from the start shows me a woman of deep faith that has affected me deeply. I am sorry for your friend, for her loss in letting you go the way she did. Through political fever could be a short-term form of insanity. Sort of the way people act a sports events, soccer comes to mind.
I will remember this piece for a long time, especially when I too will struggle to forgive someone. I do believe it is a choice based on true love of the other, as well as not letting them have a negative power over us.
God bless and thank you again
Br. Mark Dohle
Marjorie, this is an anger I have never seen during an election. Never to this level. I know a wonderful gal who lives down South and is the gentlest spirit I know. I would like to share a quote from her that I saw on Facebook the other day after she was attacked by a friend over a very benign comment she had made. …”My one purpose here is to stand against fear by speaking truth and my one cause for that is the advancement of the gospel. I believe we, the body of Christ, have vacated our role and allowed the government to become a false god that people in crisis need look to for provision and salvation. Pray for the persecuted church, pray that the lost among the refugees would see Jesus as their salvation as we reach to love them…not our government.” This struck a chord in me. What did Hilary represent for so many people? And why were they so personally crushed by the loss? I don’t know if that had anything to do with your friend’s reaction but I do think there is something to what my friend said. I so seldom talk politics with anyone. There seems to be so little middle ground.
I have experienced what you have experienced as well, not only with a friend, but with family as well. The friend (who I really only had known through work and was not a lifetime friend) had “referred” to me social media, not mentioning my name, however, I knew exactly that she was referring to me, so I contacted her privately, and she confirmed it was me as well as reamed me again. I apologized, because I did not see where I had offended her, however, in the eyes of the beholder, she felt I had. She stated that she did not want to be friends any longer. No loss to me, because as I said, we were not close friends, but I felt bad that she had misinterpreted what I had said.
But the real heartbreaker for me is a great niece and a great nephew whom I had been close to and had always been there for. When I stated my beliefs I was thrown a bunch of very hurtful comments for all to see. Then they both blocked me from communication with them. Let me also state that these young people do not live close to me, but we have travelled afar to be there for anything they have celebrated, as well as sending them notes of pride in their successes and Christmas gifts. I guess I am still in shock. I do not understand their thinking as they have gone so far left and as children raised in the Catholic Faith, and one going to Catholic schools, through college, I was quite taken aback by their support of the far Left as well as what I consider a great disrespect for me. I have since spoken to one of them, but casually and ended the conversation with an “I love you”. I received the same response back. But, now for me, though I could move forward in our relationship, I am saddened by the fact that it is I who has to put my beliefs on the back burner so avoid any confrontations. Though my love and forgiveness for them is still there, I must admit that the respect and pride I once had for them has dwindled. Perhaps that is what has broken my heart the most. I do not expect someone two generations younger than I to think like I, but I did expect that they would not fall for the rhetoric presented. I am saddened that they believe in total opposite what they had been raised as and I feel as though all they were taught was for naught. I was also surprised, when an invite was presented for a very special occasion for me, the decision to accept is going to depend on their willingness to put our differences behind us and choose to “agree to disagree” I still do not know the outcome in the future, but I will continue my prayers for this great country, for the Left to learn to accept they lost, for those who continue believe in False News reject it and finally come to realize that OUR President is in it for the good of our country. May our Lord direct them and strengthen them in the true meaning of being, not only a Catholic, but a Patriot. I do not know or understand what more they want out of their country, but I pray that some day they will see their blessings and Praise the Lord for all they have been given. I am, however, very proud of one of my grandchildren, who now attends a Jesuit College, who seems to be a bit more liberal than any of us expected, who sees the truth and even feels embarrassed by his generation. His hands are tied and he does not seem to have the right to freedom of speech as he fears that his grades will be effected should he express his beliefs, so he silently listens and watches and in his heart defends his beliefs. God Bless America and God Bless OUR President.
Mary Anne, I was saddened to read this, “but we have travelled afar to be there for anything they have celebrated, as well as sending them notes of pride in their successes and Christmas gifts.” Gratitude may be the last thing our children learn as they grow up. But let me add, that generation to which they belong has been immersed in a culture that only affirms those who embrace its various Leftish values and prejudices. I am sure there have been good family influences, some good teachers, perhaps a good minister or priest, but for the most part they have been subject to same culture that my own children have been besieged with. When those values begin to break down, to cause personal disappointment and pain, they will begin to reappraise their treatment of you. I am sure. All the best, Deal Hudson