Bravo Hamilton


I stand in solidarity with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton who made a statement to soon-to-be Electoral College-elect vice-president Mike Pence when he attended a performance of the play.
Bravo Hamilton.
The statement was respectful, and, all things considered, restrained. It was civil. According to the New York Times, the statement said:
“We-sir-are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
Full disclosure: I have not seen the play, but I am a fan. I ride around listening to the sound-track in my car.
The beauty of the production is that it uses Hip Hop, an art form invented by America’s non-white citizens, to present an interpretation of the early history of America with a multi-racial cast. It does what all good art ought to do, make us see the ordinary with extraordinary sight and thus help us know our own humanity better.
There is good reason for a diverse America to feel alarmed and anxious after a divisive campaign of fear and lies that Donald Trump and Mike Pence inflicted upon the nation to win the Electoral College and thus to win the presidency and the vice-presidency. Let us be clear: Trump and Pence are minority winners. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than two million votes. More than seven million people voted for a third-party candidate. Nearly half of Americans who could have voted did not. Most citizens of the United States do not want Donald Trump to be president, yet, he will take the oath of office in January, becoming both head of state and head of government, representing the United States in his person to history and to the world.
Since his campaign that emboldened white supremacists, violence against people of color, immigrants, and Muslims have risen. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were 867 incidents of harassment in the first ten days after the election. ( The Trump/Pence response to such hate has been tepid at best. Trump has made Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network, a news organization that caters to white supremacists, his chief White House strategist. His other choices for cabinet positions, including Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and his choice for the person to head the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency indicate that he will not protect voting rights or the planet.
Since we value a peaceful transition of power, what is the majority of citizens of the United States to do? We ought to resist in every peaceful way imaginable. We ought to stand up and boldly state what the shared values and beliefs of our society are.
Elections are only one aspect of a democratic society. There are other aspects of civil society that help to forge and to maintain shared values and beliefs that allow us to form a consensus on what is acceptable behavior. Civil, civilized, civilization all derive from the same Latin root – “civis” meaning citizen. There are rules of behavior that a civilized society insists upon. Manners and etiquette come from the mores and ethos of a culture that help us to restrain our behavior in ways that maintains the unity of a society. They are the oil of grace, the unction that reduces social friction. Such requires respect for every member of the society. There can be no special privileges for one group based on skin color or gender.
When the ethos of a culture is violated, it is right that civil society finds ways to say the behavior is unacceptable.
Bonhoeffer on shame
Christian theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer thought that in the beginning Creator and creation existed in unity. Disunity is the essence of a fall from grace. In an essay – “Disunion: An Exploration of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Concept of Shame” – John Reeves says Bonhoeffer thought shame was three-fold: “the knowledge of the separation from God, grief for this separation, and the helplessness to fix that which is broken.”
I say: separation from other human beings, from nature and creation is separation from God who is Divine Love. There is no reunification with God without mending the brokenness within human community and a right relationship with nature. For Bonhoeffer we can only return to unity through Christ. I say, we are not helpless to return to unity. We return through the human incarnation of Divine Love that is Christ-consciousness. This is also evident in “logos” understood as a principle of rationality, of an entity acting through Divine Love. This is our work to do. The campaign that Trump and Pence ran was divisive. It was shameful. It is our duty to call it out for what it is and to demand an apology and acts of reconciliation.
Trump, Pence, the Republican Party, and millions of Trump voters may not be ashamed of the hateful campaign that let loose white supremacist bullying on the land, but the rest of us ought not to accept this campaign and its results in silence. We ought not to accept this as normal. Silence in the face of disunity is not reconciliation. It is capitulation.
It is imperative for us to speak up against the shame of hateful lying politics not only for the sake of the nation, but for the sake of our own individual freedom. Bonhoeffer teaches us that to the extent that we are free, our freedom lies in relationship. Disunity, the cause of shame, disrupts righteous relationships that is the essence of our freedom.
Bonhoeffer says that our freedom is a freedom for the other. I say our freedom is not only a freedom for the other, but it is a freedom with the other. We each have a moral responsibility with the Other to create a society, to build a better world to live in where every life, where every bit of existence has value.
Shame on anyone who wins elections with hateful lies and division.
See: “Creation and Fall: The Image of God on Earth” in “A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer” Revised Edition
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of and author of “Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.”

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