It has been about a month since Donald Trump (and I only capitalize his name for this article) took the oath of office for the presidency of the United States. In that short time he has:
1. Instituted a ban on immigration from seven countries with largely Muslim populations, while not touching those countries where his personal financial empire does business (some of whom have been the home of known terrorists).
2. Fired the Interim Attorney General for refusing to go to court to enforce his immigration ban when it was suspended by a federal judge.
3. Threatened to remove federal funding from four hundred “Sanctuary Cities”, including New York, for refusing to report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.
4. Demoted two key figures from the National Security Council because they openly disagree with his policies.
5. Added a purely political figure to the National Security Council, thereby politicizing any recommendations by the Council.
6. Directed Homeland Security to begin construction of “the wall”.
7. Killed our participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership.
8. Signed order to reduce funding and begin the removal of “Obamacare” without a substitute policy thereby leaving many without healthcare.
9. Reimposed the Mexico City policy (also known as a global gag rule) to block funding for family planning, including many international organizations providing resources for HIV/AIDS and health services for women and children worldwide.
10. Suspended an interest rate cut for the FHA-backed loans, which affects housing costs for low-income and/or first-time home buyers.
11. Signed executive orders in support for the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline, both of which are potential threats to the environment.
12. Approved a Seal Team 6 action that killed its targeted victim but also killed several women and children in the process.
13. Revised our torture Detention and Interrogation policy to include torture techniques like waterboarding.
My training as a “neutral” says I should try to see both sides of an issue to help participants work their way to a mutually agreeable solution. Getting into my head to be a neutral is a challenge at this point.
As a sixty-nine-year-old Black man I have lived through Jim Crow, Brown vs. Board of Education and the integration of Little Rock High School, Freedom Riders, sit-ins, the advent of the Black Power movement, the signing of the Civil Rights Bill and Affirmative Action, anti-Vietnam protests, the creation of corporate positions of directors of diversity (Hell, I even did that one myself!) Roe v. Wade, Women’s Movement, and on and on.
I have always tried to quietly, work behind the scenes to have a positive impact on a situation. When MLK was killed, I helped organize Black Hospital Corpsmen stationed at Bethesda Naval Hospital to volunteer at the first aid station of Resurrection City, which was built on the National Mall, in protest. (We even got the hospital to donate medical supplies!) My corporate diversity work was to help others gain solid positions and build careers in our financial system. My work in health care as a physician assistant was, and still is, to ensure fair and equitable access to quality health care.
I also choose to do much of my conflict resolution work in my community, which doesn’t make me rich but helps me sleep a little better every night.
“Talkin’ Loud and Doing Nothin ’ ” never seemed like a solution to me. Quietly correcting an injustice seemed a more reasonable approach. Let someone else protest and I am happy to work towards an active solution. But this new administration has sparked a new vision in me.
If I don’t speak up and add my voice to the hundreds of thousands (cumulatively millions) of protestors who are speaking out against trump’s (note the small “t”) actions, I am guilty of approval by silence. I fear our new administration does not recognize calm, rational disagreement as a force to be addressed; only a voice to be ignored. Without a public outcry, his spin on issues rules the media and other information sources.
It’s now time for me to “Talk Loud and Do Something!” I know this may impact on my reputation as a neutral and possibly cost me some referral work, but living any other way at this point, just isn’t living.
You may notice that our most recent posts are political in nature. The need of our panel members to discuss their views on the political arena has sparked an organization-wide discussion about the use of our blog and its implications on our role as neutrals. We will be following up with a blog on neutrality to address these issues. Please stay tuned, and as always we welcome any reflections on this topic.