Thursday, November 10, 2016

open letter to my granddaughters #2

Dear Morgan, Emma, Tegan and Baby Ellie,

Thanks for letting me write to you to work through my emotions and thoughts about the election of Donald Trump as President. I have a lot to ponder and writing is a good way to do it. I don't know if you'll ever read these ponderings, but I am writing them because of you--you are the Future to me. I'm longing to be hopeful about your future in this confusing and painful moment.

"Rural white working class people" is a term that must be said thousands of times a day on TV and radio and in print to try to understand what happened Tuesday. "Rural White working class people" we are told, gave Trump the edge he needed.

I know the older three of you know where I come from (Ellie's just 4 months old, so she doesn't yet....) I come from southern West Virginia. Both my grandfathers were farmers. My maternal grandmother ran a boarding house for single coal miners for several years. My Grandmother Bradley raised my father and his siblings. My father had an 8th grade education. He was a farm boy who worked in the coal mines until 4 years in World War II damaged his lungs. After that, he was a bar keeper, worked in a grocery store, drove a dry cleaning truck and, in his last years, sold insurance. My mother taught elementary school--beginning before she had a BA!

The town I grew up in was Anawalt. There were 400 people there and about.

I 'was' from "rural white working class people".

That's who I am down deep.

So, why didn't I understand them more accurately before the election?

Did all my education and urban living divorce me from my roots in some radical way? I think many people would think that.

But I'm not sure. I wasn't really 'comfortable' and 'myself' at Harvard Divinity School. I'm still baffled by New York City. I'm ill at ease in many gatherings of Episcopalians--my chosen people!--because they sometimes are from a social class and level of wealth that makes me anxious. Even the town I live in--Cheshire, CT--sometimes makes me nervous because it is so upper middle class and white.

I think I spent all my full-time ministry is cities and among minorities and the poor because I am more at ease there.

The election, as you can see, has made me question 'who I am?' in a profound way.

Maybe I'm caught between two worlds: my mountain roots and my comfortable New England adopted life--in ways I didn't understand before Tuesday's election. And in ways that make me an 'outsider' to both. I have been thrown into a deep place of  reflection unlike anything I've known before.

I know 'understanding' is the 'booby-prize' but I write, trying to get a handle on what threw me for such a loop two days ago.

If you don't mind, I'll keep pondering by writing to the future....OK?

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.