Last night I ordered a copy of the Constitution from Amazon and had it shipped to the White House.
I sent the Constitution to Trump because since the election, and particularly this first week in office, I have been responding to email after email and post after post from organizations I support decrying one despicable executive action after another. I’ve been signing petitions and sending letters and worrying about what might happen.
And my worry has been justified, and I certainly wish it wasn’t. I wish he’d been blustering and not intent on carrying out every extreme campaign promise.
I was directed to a site last night and asked to “personalize” the form letter about the immigration ban. It was filled with all sorts of arguments, facts, and statistics aimed at a reasonable person whose mind might be changed by such arguments. And I know this president absolutely does not care about reasonable arguments or the voice of anyone who does not support him.
He imagines support where it does not exist: A landslide popular vote The largest inaugural crowds ever.
(I do know people who voted for him; I’m related to several of them, and I can tell you the particular reason they pulled the lever. It wasn’t a blanket endorsement of hate. The reasons were being a lifelong Republican, and being against legalized abortion.
None of the people I know who voted for this man wanted him to do all the things he said he would. They were betting against it. They bet wrong. Though, for the sake of our relationships, these are things we don’t talk about.)
I looked at this long letter with its numbers and facts, and toyed with personalizing the letter by simply ranting and raving that he was destroying democracy, that this isn’t a regime, and he cannot act like a dictator with impunity, and then I realized that my rant wasn’t likely to be read by anyone either.
So, I decided to send a copy of the Constitution, words that aren’t mine or from human rights lawyers, but words he swore to protect and defend with his hand on a Bible when he took the oath of office little more than a week ago.
I had a brief image in my mind of a UPS driver pulling up to the White House gate with a truck full of Constitutions for Trump. And it made me laugh for one brief moment. I have absolutely no illusion that sending the Constitution will do one speck of good. It won’t make it to his desk. It may never even be delivered.
You could call it an empty symbolic gesture.
But, for a brief moment I took an action that I thought of on my own. I felt a flicker of hope as I took a tiny bit of power back into my civic life—I acted rather than reacted. Reacting is what I’ve been doing for months; reacting to every awful thing in the national news that floods my inbox and Facebook posts demanding me to take action now, demanding that Trump and his agenda of hatred be stopped.
Still I cried in the late hours and was unable to sleep without medication last night, something that has become all too common since the election as I grieve and worry over my country.
I grew up feeling helpless and powerless over my own life with a revolving door of parents, and in college over the Cold War and nuclear threat. Those feelings are back in full force.
I know that I cannot save our country. I am not that powerful. Alone. And most of my days are spent alone, thoughts swirling around this predicament.
In some ways, I am not much different than the major demographic that supported this candidate—older, isolated, knocked out of work by the recession. People whose daily interactions with others are limited, and whose perceptions of reality narrow. I know what it is to feel frightened and fragile, by change and the world outside my own experience.
I’ve had to face those tendencies in myself. And I’ve learned, reluctantly, not to believe everything I think.
But I have only been able to do so by faith. And the political climate has contributed to, if not precipitated, a dark night of my soul. I know God exists, but the usual ways I experience that presence have deserted me for now.
This is a time when it would be of great benefit to see God at work in ways that lifted the dark veil, to strengthen my faith, so I can live aligned with my beliefs. Though Jesus exhorted us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, I am not able to pray for this president.
I wish instead for his impeachment and removal from office, the failure of all his endeavors, the loss of all his wealth. And so I sit with my own sin, my own bent toward hate, my failure to live the gospel in the smallest of ways.
Just a week ago I marched with 50 others in a small town gathered to say no to hate. It was the first time I’ve felt more than a glimmer of hope in this rampant fear that clings to me.
I am an introvert, so joining the small crowd was awkward, not energizing, but I knew it was necessary to stand with others. When I saw images of friends at their own marches, and photos of thousands around the world I was thankful to feel that I wasn’t alone in the desire for kindness and compassion to guide our civic life.
And then with each stroke of the president’s pen this week, I felt plunged back into the nightmare.
I stand in awe of those empowered by driving miles to meetings or calling politicians day. I am not one of them. There are days when I cannot bear to make a phone call or leave the house, under the best of circumstances, and this has been true my entire life.
It doesn’t mean I’m not informed, or that I don’t care, or that I’m lazy. Like others who’ve been betrayed by those in power (in whatever form that manifested), I’m ultra-sensitive to suffering. I don’t need to know every fact, every detail to be convinced of danger. I feel it bodily.
When I feel threatened, out-of-control, I want to vanish.
With this current slew of threats, the despair that lurks inside me is poised to feast on fear and urgency. Despair would like to paralyze me and prevent me from taking any action at all.
Despair would like to win. I won’t let it.
Each of us must fight however we’re able, and none of us should judge the rightness or worthiness or quantity of another’s efforts, to question whether they are expedient or effective.
We have no idea what each action costs a person.
When I am quiet enough to quell my feelings of powerlessness, when I am still enough for truth, I know that the very act of acting at all moves us imperceptibly away from the brink and toward the greater good.
What we should be “demanding” now is to treat one another with gentleness and encouragement, so that we can act from love and compassion, not fear and despair.
So celebrate each pussy hat knit, each petition signed, each visit by a Christian to a mosque, each person at an airport bearing witness, each donation to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, each song and video and meme that finds a sliver of humor in this absurdity, and each copy of the Constitution ordered from Amazon.
The president should receive his copy Wednesday.
I am a writer who, in December 2011, fortified by a new MFA, empty nest, and changes in my husband's employment, relocated from my native California to Washington state to see what would unfold next.