I went and saw the film A MONSTER CALLS last night and something happened to me. Movies have a way of speaking to me and moving me, often in ways that have nothing to do with the subject matter of the film itself. The monster that called in this film was a young boy’s mother’s illness and his need to deal with the feelings around his mother’s illness and dying.
The monster that has been calling to me is something else entirely, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. This past election has brought forth a monster that needs to be addressed. No, the monster is not Trump. I’d like to make it be Trump. That would be easy, and I along with many others, have been trying to do exactly that….make Trump out to be the monster. Others made Hillary out to be the monster and now after the election that has probably shifted to her supporters. But the issue is a lot more complicated than who got elected or who didn’t.
You see in the movie we discover that the real monster was the one that lived inside the boy….that needed a voice, needed to be expressed. The ‘monster’ that came to help him did so by telling him stories and it was those stories that reached inside my soul and spoke to me.
Monster: There was once an invisible man who was growing tired of being not seen. It was not that he was actually invisible. It was just that people had become used to not seeing him. One day the invisible man couldn't stand it anymore. He kept wondering, "if no one sees you, are you really there at all?"
One of the stories was about an invisible man who grew tired of not being seen. I believe Trump was elected by many who have felt invisible. I admit that many people who live in rural counties are not people I have connected with or even tried to understand. There are others who hold different beliefs than I do who have not felt supported. In the film the invisible man acted out with violence and rage in order to be seen and heard. We’ve seen lots of that in our country too. So how can we see these people in a way that they feel validated without their having to resort to violence or without our having to give up our civil rights? That is a question it would behoove all of us to ask ourselves. How can we sit down and have a civil conversation so that we might begin to understand each other?
I believe we start by assuming that they aren’t horrible people. Anyone who believes differently than we do or voted differently than we did is not a horrible person. They have ideas and needs and voted in a way they hoped would help get those realized.
There is no THEM and US. There is no GOOD guy and no BAD guy. Maybe even Trump isn’t a bad guy. I don’t like him, but I’m working to get to a point where I can see him differently. Maybe his supporters can help me get there.
Monster: “There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.”
“Because humans are complicated beasts, the monster said. How can a queen be both a good witch and a bad witch? How can a prince be a murderer and a saviour? How can an apothecary be evil-tempered but right-thinking? How can a parson be wrong-thinking but good-hearted? How can invisible men make themselves more lonely by being seen?
The tree monster also told a couple of stories about people that at first you thought were bad, and then as the story unfolded you realized perhaps there was more to the story than we saw at first. That’s the place I am trying to reach. I am tired of being angry. I am tired of being scared. I am tired of making Trump out to be this ogre or monster that is going to ruin my country. He’s going to be our president for 4 years and while I will always be wary and watchful that our civil rights don’t get stomped upon….I need to find a place of peace. So how do I, how do we begin?
I don’t know that I have the answer yet, but I’m feeling a little more hopeful. It begins with Conscious Conversations. It begins by turning our EXCLAMATIONS into QUESTION MARKS. Rather than ranting and raving on Facebook….how about we start asking each other questions and listening to the responses. We may still disagree, but at least we can be civil with each other.
So to all the Trump supporters out there I say TELL ME MORE….tell me what you see in this man that I am not seeing. Don’t yell at me or make me wrong and I’ll try not to do the same to you. After I listen to you, perhaps you might be willing to listen to me. We may not agree with each other, but we need to find a way to speak to each other. Our Congress hasn’t found a way yet, but maybe we can model the behavior for them.
Speaking with civility doesn’t mean we have to lie down and accept everything. I am not talking about normalizing behavior that feels wrong or off for me. I will still march on the 21st. I will still call my Senators and Congressmen when I need to express my opinion. I will still speak out if I feel lies are being told and I may even still post those on Facebook. But for me, I need more. I need a shift to happen.
There is a monster calling and that monster lives inside of all of us. It needs to be heard. Are we willing to listen and are we willing to speak our truth? I want to be there…I’m working on it….how about you?