After the dismaying election season and the heartbreaking election results, my first response was that I needed to start planning to leave the US. The country is broken in so many ways. The rage unleashed by Trump against Latinos and Muslims is scary. As is his contempt of women and the “elite,” meaning educated liberals. Given the darkness of his campaign, I saw things could easily move in an even more unpleasant direction. And incoming reports confirm my fears; hate crimes are on the rise, committed by people often invoking his name.
But then one morning while meditating, I asked myself what a spiritual person should do. (I’m a practicing Buddhist.) What did spiritual, good people do in other situations where people were persecuted? And I thought of the people who at great risk hid Jews or helped them escape from the Nazis. I thought of the Danish citizens who defied the Nazis and marched with yellow Jewish stars on their coats. I thought of churches here who offer sanctuary to undocumented aliens. I thought of what Pastor Niemöller said, “First they came for the Communists, and I did nothing, Then they came for the Jews, and I did nothing. Now they have come for me, and it is too late.” I knew I had to do something.
At the same time, I was aware that millions of Trump supporters have been suffering terribly for decades as a result of jobs lost overseas and wage stagnation, their middle class world shattered. That they rightfully felt neglected by the political establishment, and their anger was a reflection of that suffering. They need help as well.
As my meditation continued, I realized that this disaster presents a once in a lifetime, perhaps once in history, opportunity for America to get past its internal problems of racism and all forms of bigotry and inequality. I came up with the idea of starting a new nonprofit, American Solidarity, which would, in concert with other national organizations, organize mass non-violent rallies across this country for people to stand in solidarity with Latinos, African-Americans, Muslims, LGBT people, Jews, and women, as well as the white displaced worker. To show that you can’t rebuild America physically while leaving its social fabric frayed. This will be a civil rights organization, not a political one. Other projects will follow.
What we need is a Gandhi/MLK moment. This is a time for all 64,000,000 of us who voted for Hillary as well as the millions who voted for Trump out of economic despair and other reasons, not hatred, to come together and say to Trump, “yes, rebuild the country’s infrastructure, create jobs, but be, as you pledged, the president of all Americans. Respect human dignity and the equality of all.”
I purposely am not calling these gatherings “protests,” although that is certainly what they are, to make the point that it is important to project a positive rather than a negative energy. To be effective, I believe these rallies must be dignified statements of solidarity with all those being attacked as well as the millions of blue collar workers who have been suffering terribly. And they need to be massive. For this to happen will require the involvement of many, extraordinary leadership, cooperation among organizations, and discipline. The leadership and cooperation necessary is obvious. The discipline is needed to keep these demonstrations from becoming anti-Trump, anti-Republican rants and to keep them peaceful. The object here is peaceful persuasion. To quote from the Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice, "At its core, nonviolence embodies respect for one's opponents. ... The power of nonviolence lies in self-control ... "
All of this must come together very quickly, as it is essential that these rallies start well-prior to the inauguration.
I know this is biting off a lot, but I think in the present very unusual set of conditions, just maybe it could be pulled off.
I ask you to join American Solidarity in a crusade to save America. I know that sounds a bit much, but that’s what it comes down to I think.
We shall overcome!
Ronald L. Hirsch Founder
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