Nikolai Berdyaev wrote in 1938 that the First World War was a revelation for him instead of just a mere war. The war revealed to him how flimsy the prevalent optimism of his day that the world was progressing to new levels of humanization. Certainly the Second World War revealed to my parents’ generation that inhumanity was still present in our world. I wonder if our recent election is a revelation instead of just a mere election. I believe it is a revelation!
For all of my adult life I have worked to build community. Community, for me, is where all people, regardless of religion, nationality, race, politics, status, etc., experience one another as brothers and sisters and operate on the rule of love. In spite of having read Berdyaev’s prophetic words of 1938, I became an optimist through the years as I watched the many barriers pulled down that once dehumanized so many (there are still many barriers left). I made the same mistake that people of an earlier time had made. I believed we had made progress and would continue to make progress in the building of the beloved community (in spite of the many setbacks, like 9/11, the consequent war in Iraq and Afghanistan and many more). The recent election revealed my mistaken notion!
Eugene Robinson wrote on November 14th: “No one should be over it (the election). No one should pretend that Trump will be a normal president. No one should forget the bigotry and racism of his campaign, the naked appeals to white grievance, the stigmatizing of Mexicans and Muslims. No one should forget the jaw-dropping ignorance he showed about government policy both foreign and domestic. No one should forget the vile misogyny. No one should forget the mendacity, the vulgarity, the ugliness, the insanity. None of this should ever be normalized in our politics.” But it is normalized now! Someone posted the following on Facebook: “My preacher urged us to vote for Trump.” So now, it is normalized (even by the preachers). It is normalized by the fact that Mr. Trump is America’s president-elect. What a revelation!
I should have known better than to be overly optimistic about our human progress. I haven’t given up on that progress, the building of community, for it cannot be quelled, but it can be, and may be, stymied for a while.