Grieving for my country


There is no other way to say this – the U.S. election of Donald Trump as President has gripped me with grief, and fear.  As each day passes, further news of the dys-function of this man, and what it portends for our county and the world, only intensifies my grief, as he surrounds himself with people who have already demonstrated that they bring no good will in exercising their new-found power.  I understand the intentions of our current political leaders in expressing their desire to hold fast to the democratic principle of smooth transition of leadership, and the sound principles that they are modeling for all of us.  But at the same time, I am convinced that this is not a time to remain resigned, or to accept what is to come.  It is true that we do not know exactly what is to come, but because of the demonstrated words and deeds of all of the major players now coming into office, we have every good reason to remain vigilant and prepared to act at a moment’s notice.  

So at this early stage in what is happening, my focus turns to one of the most important things that we all need to nurture – our sense of unity and community in speaking truth to power, in holding dear the values that form our words and actions, and in support for whatever paths we can take to assure a safe and secure future for each and every person in this country and in the world.  This is not a time to turn against one another and let our petty differences tear us apart.  I have been dismayed at posts on social media that criticize and demean those who wear the safety pin as a signal of solidarity with those whose safety is threatened, or in a search for answers focus on criticizing those who are only now speaking up, when they could have done much more to prevent what has happened.  The fact is that any signal, any symbol, or any action at any time – these are all necessary at this moment, and our focus needs to be on creating communities that honor whatever can be done to strengthen those who seek justice and health for all.  It may not be what another person prefers in substance or in timing, but it is what can be given at this moment.  I call on all of us to turn away from blame and in-fighting, and to turn toward one another as allies and friends in the struggles that are now part of our future – to secure health and equality and justice for all. 

If we seek to heal the divisions and the animosity that is now all-too prevalent in this and other countries, then the one thing that we can all do now is to start on a path of healing the divisions and the hurts in our own families first, and in our own communities.  Our children, most of all, need to see us taking concrete actions to heal animosities, to address difference constructively and without demeaning another person for their ideas or beliefs.  Our children need to learn to honor other people who are different, to value the richness that comes from diversity.

I invite you, as someone manifesting nursing, to contribute your ideas for healing in our relationships, and your ideas for building and strengthening the connections that we will surely need in the months and years ahead.

24 thoughts on “Grieving for my country

  1. Hi Peggy,
    I’m with you on most of this, but I am one of the social media nurse-types who have spoken/written out against the safety pin symbol. But I also recognize that I have the (too rare) luxury of living in a decidedly progressive blue bubble. I know there are vast stretches of our country where the safety pin probably makes sense. Here’s a link to a resource of “radical self-care” that I have found strength in (linked on my post “Endurance Test”):https://josephineensign.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/endurance-test-2/

    Like

    • I get it but still it is possible to express the pitfalls of this or any symbol yet remain in solidarity with those who choose them – as long as their further words and actions are consistent! Thanks for helping move this discussion along!!

      Like

      • I agree, Peggy. I think that for some of us, who are on the “same side” criticizing others desire to make a statement and show solidarity is just divisive. I live in a blue state also, and I know of students, friends and family members who still feel afraid. . .I think we need to promote messages of safety.

        One of my students, after class yesterday, told me that he was born in the US, is a US citizen and never felt an outsider. . .but now he is hearing people yell, “go back to where you came from” (he is a Filipino-American). He also told me that he has never been political (!) and didn’t even vote. . but realizes now, he has to change that. Hearing his concerns really got to me. . .so I will keep wearing my safety pin. . sorry!

        Like

      • Good for you! I know know of any other symbol yet that has surfaced to help us send a visible message to anyone we encounter in this situation – I wish we had a more prominent something! I know that where LGBTQ rights are concerned, having rainbow flags in the environment makes a huge difference, and has opened the way for me to respond to some very critical situations that I would not otherwise have access to. And the experience of your student has been happening for a while – it will just intensify now. My son, who is half Chinese-Hawaiian, had someone scream at him a few years ago to go back to where he came from – in Berkeley, CA! He responded that he was born in Dallas and the guy jst kept screaming to go back. Trump has unleashed stuff that has been under the surface for all of us with pivelege to ignore — we can no longer do so. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

        Like

  2. This election has me motivated to action. I was complacent and felt safe with the last 8 years of a great President. I no longer feel safe; I’m scared and angry. So, my plan is to wear my safety pin always, joined Pantsuit Nation and attend the rally in DC on the 21st of January and stay informed and ready to fight. My pain points are; marriage equality, immigration, the maintenance of the ACA, Roe v Wade, misogyny, and identifying and combating hatred of all kinds to all people. My complacency is gone, maybe a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dr. Chinn, thank you so much for your words during this time. I have an Allies Safe Zone on my door at work. I see the safety pin as an extension of that sign. I have always spoken out about inequity, racism, and oppression. My heart is heavy but I am ready to continue the fight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dr. Chinn, As an nurse living and working in Canada for over 40 years, I follow global issues that impact my work, most recently with BScN students and colleagues and have found many occasions where your sage advice to SOPHIA has been so useful; I have followed American politics for years and held my breath when Trump was elected, I grieve for your country too, in part because, as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (father of the current PM!) said in 1969, “living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt”. We are experiencing a backlash against all sorts of issues that I thought we had sorted out, including the safety pin.
    Cathy Graham, Peterborough, ON.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Grieving for my country | Peggy L Chinn, RN, PhD, FAAN

  6. I’m with you. Have moved beyond shock and grief into heavy action phase. I have been planning to retire and spend some time contemplating on what I want to do next. That luxury is now gone. Will focus on reproductive rights for all (but not forget about all the other rights being trampled). Pat Kelly

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right – there are so many rights and freedoms that are now at risk. I believe it is prudent to focus on at least one, but at the same time keep the radar out for whatever surfaces at any time. Thanks for letting us hear from you!

      Like

  7. Thank you Dr. Chinn for mentioning our children. As a peds nurse I know how important this is. You are so right when you note we must show them the meaning of grace even in our deep disappointments. I am hoping to explore the topic of social media’s effect on the mental health of our children and adolescents in my PhD dissertation. This election has certainly added to my literature review.
    I would also like to share, I had a dear nursing student of mine email me the morning after the election, to let me know that if she did not do well on Thursday’s exam, it was because she was sick with grief and mourning and not because she had not studied. She just wanted me to know. She then went on to say she was not sure if she could remain friends with her friends that had voted for Trump. In my heart I knew exactly how she felt, but I knew the best thing I could say at that moment was, “have they remained your friend over the last 8 years?” That was not easy to say, but I think you are right, Dr. Chinn, coming together over issues and showing grace (despite our fears and reservations) is the harder, but higher road.
    Thank you all for allowing me to safely share my feelings here.
    Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for this story. People who live where there is political divide right in their own circle are actually quite fortunate – once we move away from the polarizing personalities themselves and are forced to discuss issues (like actual deportations and removal of healthcare accesss) we will then be able to practice skills of building understanding and building bridges.

      Like

  8. I believe we need to stand behind our new President, our new leader and give him a chance. We should pray for all of our leaders for good decisions, for their safety and wisdom in leading our nation. We must as you say, pull together and support each other and stand beside each other to fight for America and not against each other.

    Like

    • With all due respect, I am referring to unity on behalf of human rights, ethics and justice. So far the actions that this president elect is taking belies all of the basic values. Plus his appointees are totally unqualified to assume the roles they are planning to assume. If we begin to see actions that support fundamental values then I support your sentiment. But so far it is not looking as if this person is making good decisions. If this continues our country is not safe and we must stand up and be counted.

      Liked by 2 people

    • We cannot and must not stand behind misogyny, racism and totalitarianism. We must not accept the rhetoric that maligns our own LGBQT and Muslim citizens. We must stand up for those who are vulnerable. This is who we are as nurses. Not only should our voices be heard, but we must also be the voice of those who cannot speak. We cannot be blind to history. Nationalism, isolationism, and scapegoating are dangerous precedents that have led to dangerous governance.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks to all who have contributed and to you, Peggy, for clarifying the difference between supporting a person elected to an office and supporting fundamental human values. That is a helpful distinction. On 11/9, my granddaughter texted me to say “How can this have happened, this is a world crisis”. While I was proud of her for “getting it” I was equally dismayed at how the election results that day seemed to be normalized by major TV news in Canada. Thankfully, that changed within 48 hours or so but initially the usually analytical CBC morning news was focused on “how did the pollsters get it so wrong”. I couldn’t believe it. I like the safety pin idea – does anyone know of a safety pin emoticon?? I’ve tried to find one to no avail and am not clever enough to make my own!!!

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Adeline! What a great idea – a safety pin emoticon! And your point about the tendency to normalize this situation is a key point we all must remember. Even I feel it – I want so much to be able to say and feel that the balances of power that are built into our system can work and that life will go on as we know it – but then I remember that this is the voice of privilege – that there are just too many signals that we are in great danger of not holding on to the fundamental values. Of course this has been eroding gradually for a long time, and our complacency (including normalizing Trump’s behavior, inadequacies and values during the pre-election days) has to end if we are to do the right thing. And we must move away from our positions of privilege and pay attention to the perspectives of those who were actually in the minority in this election, but whose voice had the power to catapult Trump to power. If we were now seeing some shifts in Trump’s words and actions, I would be more hopeful. But instead, what we are seeing are words and actions that demonstrate that we cannot let go of our determination to do whatever we can for justice, equality, respect for all – which include assuring health and safety for all.

      Like

  10. Thank you for calling us to action, Peggy. I have been wearing a safety pin for weeks now – and I draw attention to the word SAFETY. That is what I want to convey with this symbol – as a nurse, I honor all people; you are safe with me. My neighbors recently mocked me for wearing it – it infuriated me that they looked upon this gesture of compassion, solidarity, and advocacy as ‘child’s play’. Still, I wear it – I cannot stand in status quo and I certainly cannot stand in the middle of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, or any other divisive belief that this election has stirred up. A random man in a grocery store started a conversation with me just the other day – spouting off about how great Trump is and how he dislikes “the Clintons.” I stopped him immediately – “Sir, I am not in your camp. We’ll see what our new President brings but I am deeply concerned about this election, and you should be too. This man has never been for you (a small business owner). He has only ever been for himself and that is not going to change.” I am so tired of placating people – we must speak the truth, call out the inconsistencies, and act. I was wearing my SAFETY pin at a meeting in Miami recently and a fellow nurse asked about its significance. When I explained it to her, she was so eager to find one to wear. Fortunately, I had an extra and gave it to her. Nurses, let’s spread the SAFETY; let’s spread JUSTICE; let’s hold up the TRUTH; let’s UNITE for ALL to live in PEACE.

    Like

  11. Pingback: Making a list – of ways to support health, equality and justice for all | NurseManifest

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s