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Reflecting Prejudice: Should We Emulate Trump or Rise Above Him

This evening, the President of the United States—the titular head of the “free world”—is going to use his bullying pulpit to peddle fear and inject hatred into our homes. Donald Trump is going to manufacture a crisis by using selective statistics and outlier anecdotes to paint a picture of a nation being invaded by hordes of criminals and terrorists. By doing so, he is reverting to the most tried and true tactic of them all, he will cater to his base while demonizing anyone who does not idolize his likeness.

In response, his opponents and people who abhor his brand of bigotry will leap into action and retort with brimstone and fire of their own. This is exactly how he and the political class prefer it; we fall into the trap of the status quo without evening knowing it. Responding to hatred with antipathy and bitterness—no matter how justified it might seem—is how America has been fractured into the ghettos of political sectarianism.

Reacting to Trump and not realizing the wider causes of injustice is myopia that only furthers inequalities. The root of oppression and the sources of human suffering is not found in one man let alone one party. In all honesty, the issue is beyond politics, our governance is a reflection of the brokenness we have come to accept as the cost of doing business.

All too often, we would prefer to prove ourselves right instead of listening to one another. Fighting for justice in this way has become about validating our egos. Too many would rather try to monopolize pains than work collectively to ameliorate hardships. Collaboration has given way to competition, folks would rather struggle apart than acknowledge that others are feeling the heat of tribulation too.

This zeitgeist of self-centeredness is the demand that politicians are responding to. Trump, his Republican allies and Democrat “adversaries” are using the same playbook when it comes to speaking to our fears and selling us false hopes. We only notice when “the other side” is bamboozling their supporters because it’s always easier to spot a con job being pulled on others than it is to realize when we are the ones being duped.

So I ask of you this one thing before you react to the pettiness of Trump, Pelosi and Schumer this evening. Take a pause and consider if fighting fire with fire and unleashing a tirade of rhetorical infernos will do anything to alleviate injustice. The targets of our ire, the politicians we are getting worked up about, are not going to hear us nor respond to our vitriol. As evidenced by this shutdown, politicians stopped paying attention to us a long time ago. They only know how to use our suffering as billboards while taking cash extortion of billionaires.

There is a reason why the major networks and cable TV are going to broadcast Trump’s patently bigoted speech. No matter how much his detractors pretend to be repulsed by him, the truth is that they love his divisiveness and petulance. Each time opens up his Twitter account to lie, it is music to the ears of the political class. Not only does Trump’s actions draw people like moths to a fire, he also ruptures society into feuding sides. The more we splinter, the easier it is for demagogues on all sides to manipulate our emotions.

What will happen instead is victim fighting victim as people of different political and social stripe take to social media to lambaste one another. What will this accomplish other than amplifying the animosity that is enveloping this nation and our planet? This is exactly how the people lose their power to the aristocracy. When we bicker and fight among each other, the only winners are those who prosper through our disunion.

We are being conditioned to fight like crabs in a barrel. No matter how different our journeys and how divergent the roads might be that we travel, the truth in the end is that we are all being pillaged by a system that transfers wealth from many in order to enrich the exorbitantly wealthy. The split is not between the endless false constructs that are imposed upon us, the struggle is between the powerful and the people they subjugate. If we don't wake up to this paradigm of manufactured rancor and find a consensus between the oppressed, we will finally find equality through indigence and hopelessness. #ReflectingPrejudice Click To Tweet

The farmer in Kansas is feeling the burdens the same way the labor in Chicago is buckling under the pressure. Though I can’t deny that certain groups of people have felt the weight of systematic repression throughout America’s history, that doesn’t mean that others are living a life of privilege. Let us stop comparing pains and instead realize that all of us are being set up for failure. If we do talk about our grievances, let us do so without minimizing the discrimination others face.

If not, if we choose to be dismissive instead of being inclusive, the end result is the continued fraying of civility and the unraveling of society. Compassion towards others who don’t share our identities or believe in our ideologies is the only way we can bend the arc of history in the direction of justice. The other choice is to mimic Trump and his cohorts in Congress by letting antagonism towards others be our moral compass. Politicians, pundits and media personalities have a vested interested in stoking our emotions, they get paid the more they stir us into contempt. The rest of us—the vast majority of humanity who bear the cost of compliance—will be the ones suffering if we choose malice over goodwill.

“It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.” ~ Confucius

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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam

Lij Teodrose Fikremariam is the co-founder and former editor of the Ghion Journal. He is currently the chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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