inessential by Brent Simmons

Empathy and Anger

In the past year I’ve read a bunch of articles telling the stories of the people we’d now call Trump voters.

I have plenty of empathy for them. Always have. Some of these folks are in my family.

But now there are all these calls for us to have empathy for them. Look: we already did. And: they won. They won, and we lost, and we’re supposed to develop empathy for them?

Were I anything but the straight white middle-aged man that I am, I’d say, using my snarkiest voice, Yeah, sure, I’ll get right on that.

I’d much rather they develop empathy for all the people who didn’t vote for Trump. Not for me — not for doing-just-fine white men in Seattle — but for everybody else.

That’s not going to happen. Why would it.

* * *

I want to say that I hate all these people. I don’t hate them, though, and it wouldn’t be true to say it. My anger makes me want to lash out, but even anger has to give way to truth.

Truth matters even when you’re mad. (Trump voters apparently don’t agree.)

* * *

Well, surely, there are some individuals worth hating. I never learned the lessons of Christianity and Star Wars about loving your enemies, so I’m fine with that.

I’m not supposed to be fine with that. I’m supposed to be a good person. But I’m not a good person. Maybe I will be, some day.

But probably not. There’s not enough time left for me to become a good person.

I hope you’re a good person.

* * *

The terrible things are still to come. The anger I feel now doesn’t compare to the anger I’m going to feel.