I had never spoken the title and the name of the current occupant of the White House in the same sentence. Never. It wasn’t anything deliberate at first. I just couldn’t bring myself to say it. I had never written it, either.
It reminds me of a lunch with a conservative friend about five years ago. He was not a fan of President Obama (did you see what i just did? I wrote “President” and “Obama” right next to each other. I just said it aloud. “President Obama” It felt good.)
I noticed that this friend was avoiding Obama’s name. I called him on it. “You can’t even say his name!” I chided. He objected. “I can say his name . . . [long pause] Obama.” It was visibly painful, but he said it.
That was more than I could do. I could say “President”. And, I could say “Trump”. But, I couldn’t do it in the same sentence. After a few months, I realized that I had never said it. After a while, it became a point of pride. I sometimes bragged about it.
Then, last week, Linda and I were at sitting at the table, and I was reading the newspaper. I saw something interesting and, as I frequently do, I read to her aloud from the article. Just a few sentences. Then I paused. Apparently, the newspaper reporter and editor did not share my aversion.
“Oh, shit. Do you know what i just did?”
“It doesn’t count” Linda said. “You only read it.”
But, I had said it. I had spoken the words “President Trump”. Damn. Now I’ve written it.
Maybe it is time for me to take a deep breath and explicitly acknowledge this reality. I remember an interview of Senator Elizabeth Warren explaining her decision to attend the inauguration. She wanted the image “burned in [her] eyes” so that it would help to motivate her for the work that she knew had to be done.
Last week, I was privileged to be chosen to be president of Hartford Area Humanists, a role I had served before, when the group was first created. In addressing the group at our annual meeting, I appealed to the members to get involved in fighting for Humanist values in the face of an administration that actively opposed those values. I told them that our political times demand that all people of conscience take an active role in opposing this president’s agenda.
I didn’t say the words then, but I’ll write them now. This time on purpose. People of conscience must oppose the agenda of President Trump.
I just read that last sentence aloud. That’s not so bad. It’s that agenda that really hurts.