“Are you sure you still want to host Thanksgiving?” my sister texted me Nov. 9. Just 24 hours earlier, Donald Trump had triumphed over Hillary Clinton in a sweeping rebuke of her, the pollsters who had been saying for weeks that she’d win, and those who’ve urged voters away from a man they deemed unfit to serve.
At the time, I wasn’t sure. There sure was a lot of triumphant gloating going on in my family. And it was making me uncomfortable and nervous.
“President Donald Trump — how sweet the sound. Wonderful victory speech — gracious, presidential — I’m ecstatic!” my mom texted me, my sister and my four brothers. I reacted with a blue-tinged, shock-and-awe emoji, with a nuclear waste sign and a coffin, for fun. The boys chimed in with multiple “thumbs-up” emojis.
Then Younger Brother shared this tweet from his daughter, my niece, a junior at the University of North Carolina in Asheville: “My [expletive deleted] school had ‘comfort food’ today because of the election results. Funny how the most PC have no problem isolating every conservative and non-liberal on campus.”
That elicited a long text from Oldest Brother against “Dems/Media” — did he mean me, I wondered? — who “want abortion and sodomy any time […] shared bathrooms, assisted suicide, sexual identity choice in grade school, no guns for law abiding citizens, no public prayer, no Ten Commandments in public, no religious conscience rights, but are sure the animals have rights. They got the big [expletive deleted] from the working class!”
He threw in eight middle finger emojis and a toothy-grinned smiley face for emphasis.
Meanwhile, my mom complained to me in a phone call over the weekend about the way the media were covering the anti-Trump protests in at least 52 cities across the country, like Portland, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, and New York.
“If it were Trump’s supporters, angry at Hillary being elected, you can bet they’d be saying, ‘Let’s stop this nonsense and come together,’” she fumed.
There’s a lot of anger out there. Still. Trump’s election didn’t end it, certainly not for his detractors. But it didn’t end the seething resentments of his supporters, either. According to The New York Times, some people are canceling Thanksgiving feasts as a result, unwilling and unable to set aside differences for even one meal with family and friends.
The problem, as I see it — and read it, in the Nov. 15 Times article and in my family’s texts — is hypocrisy, and our hyper-sensitivity to it.
Hypocrisy, as Merriam-Webster defines it, is “the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do.” It’s the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. It derives from the Greek word “hupokrisis,” meaning, acting of a theatrical part.
Lately, though, we’ve become a nation dedicated to rooting out and exposing hypocrisy. Trump, who rails against the loss of manufacturing jobs overseas, makes his neckties in China. Clinton criticizes the big banks while accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from them. Demonstrators hold up signs that say “Love Trumps Hate” while throwing glass bottles at police in riot gear.
And my mom and brothers and I stand on the sidelines, documenting every hypocritical act with triumphant, angry texts, emails and telephone exchanges, doing nothing among ourselves to bring about this oft-stated goal of unity and harmony.
Our self-righteousness is what’s dividing us. Not Trump. Not anti-Trumps. Not the media.
There’s a great teaching by Jesus on hypocrisy that holds the solution: “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
This tells me that my hypocrisy is a greater moral failing for me than yours is for me. And if I root it out in my own life, and act in ways that are consistent with what I claim to believe, then I have half a chance of influencing you to do the same.
I’m thinking of posting some white flags at my Thanksgiving table, along with the stuffing and the turkey and the candlesticks. I will declare my house an HFZ, Hypocrisy-Free Zone. We all leave one another’s specks alone.
Is there an emoji for that?
Reach Amy Eddings at 567-242-0379 or on Twitter, @lima_eddings.