I want to focus on one thing and one thing only here: What it means to be a decent human being.
Why are we indecent?
Pretty much every human religion ever invented has a mechanism for explaining and dealing with (however imperfectly) the fact that we humans do not always treat each other decently. Most of us, when it comes down to it, basically want to be decent, but we fail on a daily basis to live up to our ideals.
This is fine; this is what it means to be human. I have spent my parenting years helping my kids wrestle with this. It’s a common issue in the classes I teach. It’s good and right that kids wrestle with this issue, and it’s good and right for them to be put into situations where they clash with others who are unlike them so that they get used to wrestling with this issue.
This indecent man
Then there’s our president-elect. I’m not going to discuss his policies.
What I want to discuss is how he is an indecent man, and anyone who supports him becomes, through their support, indecent. Luckily, there’s a way to come back to decency—I’ll get to that.
In what ways is he indecent?
He’s a liar.
All politicians stretch and bend the truth to try to make their case. All politicians change their positions (which I think is a good thing!). All politicians say what their audience wants to hear as much as they can.
However, our president-elect is, quite simply, a liar. He clearly believes that whatever he says becomes true, which is the mark of someone who is a liar to the core. The most effective liars believe themselves deeply and consistently. The most effective liars simply dismiss anything that isn’t consistent with their lie as a lie.
If you support him, you support a liar.
He’s a bigot.
Even when he’s trying to be nice to people, he shows his bigotry. Remember, believing that something is better about a group of people based on an attribute they have no control over is bigotry, too. So when he makes generalizations about women, people of color, immigrants, the disabled—add other categories here—and says something “nice,” remember that’s still bigotry. Though let’s face it, most of the content of what he says is negative.
If you are still on the fence about whether or not he’s a bigot, look at his supporters in the “alt-right”—let’s call them by their real title—white supremacists. They believe he’s a bigot, and they like that about him.
If you support him, you support a bigot.
He uses his wealth for power, not to help others.
This is an important aspect of a decent person that, again, all religions agree on: decent people always help others when they can. Ironically, research shows that the less you have to give, the more likely you are to give your time and money to help others.
In other words, it’s hard being rich. It’s really hard to help others that you don’t see, don’t have contact with, and think of as “the other.” But it’s easy enough, if you’re rich, at least to give some money. Any money.
Yes, our president-elect has a foundation, but there seems to be little evidence that he has used it to help anyone. It’s also worth a fraction of the billions he says he has. And it has spent plenty of money helping…him and his family.
If you support him, you support using wealth only empower the wealthy.
He treats others with open disdain.
It’s true that politicians are often accused of being disdainful, such as Mitt Romney after his 47% comment or Hillary Clinton after her “basket of deplorables” comment.
But our president-elect doesn’t have to say things that can be perceived as disdainful—he is simply openly disdainful. The way he behaves towards others—even, sometimes, rich white men like him—is indecent. He shows no respect for the dignity of other human beings.
If you support him, you support treating others with disdain.
How can we fix this?
The following is what I teach my children and my students.
- Reject indecency
Do not vote for or support people who do not treat others decently
- Call out indecency
Don’t (out of a fear of impropriety) hide the fact that you reject indecent people
- Ask others to reject indecency
Make the “call to action” so that others see someone standing up for common decency
- Do all of this decently
Don’t, in the name of decency, behave indecently
I have decided to be open about the fact that I reject indecency in our personal and political spheres, and thus I reject our president-elect.
I ask you also, no matter who you voted for, to reject indecency in our personal and political spheres, and thus reject our president-elect.
If you voted for him, rejecting indecency is your ticket back to decency.
If you do not reject him openly and publicly, then you, in your silence, join in the support of indecency.
This blog is not about politics, but it is about parenting. And all parents know that sometimes it’s uncomfortable to do what’s right.