As one of the protesters near the Orlando Trump rally, I felt very uncomfortable. My discomfort was due in part to my fear of violence. In greater part, however, it had a deeper cause.
The protest was organized under the banner “Win With Love,” a reference to the diversity of its constituent members. The speakers called for fairness, equality, mutual respect, and love, toward all people. My discomfort arose from their violent language toward Republicans and Donald Trump.
In the strongest, loudest, and most vulgar language, many of the speakers literally screamed invective at Donald Trump and the Republicans. Their speeches hurt my ears. They troubled my Spirit.
Obscene signs peppered the crowd. A huge balloon, in the shape of a diapered baby, with a face in the likeness of the president of the United States, was prominently displayed. Many held up smaller versions of the same balloon.
Many mimicked other behavior I had previously seen in videos of Trump rallies. The only difference was in the target of their rage.
Donald Trump benefits from dividing us. Those most opposed to his divisive agenda, however, have themselves unwittingly adopted it. Donald Trump exploits division, in order to energize his base. His opposition exploits those same divisions, in order to energize its base. We, as a nation, remain deeply divided. Donald Trump wins re-election.
Division is the result of “dualistic” thinking: Every matter has two sides: good or bad; male or female; black or white; rich or poor; us or them; right or wrong.
Non-dualistic thinking understands that there may be more than two sides to a matter. Jesus modeled non-dualistic thinking. He said “love your enemies.” He socialized with sinners. He refused to condemn to death a woman caught in adultery.
In times past, our nation has done the same. During the Second World War, we treated German POWs as well as we treated our own soldiers. After that terrible war, we adopted the Marshall Plan to rebuild the nation of our enemies.
We, and our allies, had learned that lesson the hard way. We punished Germany harshly for starting World War I. Their response to that punishment led to World War II.
So it is, here and now. All that will be gained by violent, divisive rhetoric, is more violent, divisive rhetoric. Such rhetoric deepens our divisions. Our divisions defeat our objectives.
To “Win With Love,” we must love those with whom we disagree. To love takes enormous courage. To love generates enormous power. Think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Think Gandhi.
At a minimum, to love means to listen. Mutual, honest, respectful, courageous, active listening will allow a non-dualistic alternative to emerge. It will uncover a deeper unity that can overcome voter-suppression efforts and Electoral College fears.
Let us overcome our enemies, not with invective, but by loving, respectfully listening to, and conversing with them. That is how those of us on both sides of these divisions will “Win With Love.”
— Vaughen and his wife, Susan, live in DeLand. He is a retired attorney; she is president of the Democratic Club of Northwest Volusia County.