We need to move forward. Here are my first thoughts.

Listen to me. This is important.

Trump won.

We don’t know how; we don’t know why. Somewhere inside we thought his candidacy was just a dangerous game. But we were wrong. And in being wrong, we came to realize, for the first time in most of our lives, that politics is far more than just a great game played inside the imperfect but safe bowl of democracy. It is the organizing principle of human affairs, and without a sound political structure, we do not stand on solid ground – as a nation or as individuals.

That is what the true shock is: that the election of this man could threaten us on the very level of our every day lives. He could break something that we never questioned before: he could break America.

This gives us a great responsibility and opportunity.

We have been fragmented on the left for as long as I can remember. Perhaps during the Viet Nam war we were unified, but that was around a single issue.

Our lives and well being were at risk; the soul of the country was at risk.

This time it is different. This is not simply about our individual rights or the viability of our country. This is about the health and survival of future generations.

This is about our planet.

This is about our children.

The great flaw of the left, when it is not galvanized around a single issue, has been its failure to unify. There are so many deeply felt and morally legitimate issues. Black Lives Matter, GLBTQ rights, a woman’s right to choose, the despoliation of the environment, prison reform, the cost of college education and the rights of all children to go to healthy and hopeful schools; electoral reform, citizens united, handicap access, cruelty to animals. And I could go on. We all could.

But the issue is that we are not one, we are many. We may form alliances: Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Sacred Stone Camp, etc. But we do not subsume our individual issues under a common banner. We do not forge a collective identity. We stumble around, frustrated to the point of tears, marginalized in the collective American consciousness as “The Left” — a grab bag of grievances united under a political banner that does not draw the ordinary American citizen to us until their particular ox is gored by some event that radicalizes them.

But what we are facing now is too important to remain fragmented and too significant to be allowed to be marginalized. It is not simply political. It is human.

Understand, this election was not about principle, it was about anger. The people who elected Trump have nothing in common except their free-floating and undefined anger at some vague “other” who is keeping the world from being what they think it should be. If we allow ourselves to become that “other” we run the risk of turning that anger to hate.

We need to create a larger embrace. We need to recognize, whether we like it or not, that we live in a time of sound bites and branding. We can no longer afford to be a loose alliance of individual causes and grievances united under the marginalized politically-fraught identity of “The Left.”

We need to find a common banner that calls to everyone who is able to think beyond the notion of “country” to the notion of “planet.”

If we set this up as opposition, all we do is give the anger something to galvanize around. Remember, the people who are now been given power have no identity, only grievance. If we have no identity, but only grievance, they win, because they have the power.

Our power is in finding a common identity that embraces all causes and allows each to struggle for its own individual ends, not as part of an alliance, but as part of a common vision.

I think that identity has something to do with our children. I don’t have the phrase, but this is the one thing that all of us, including the angry victors, share — our love and our hope for our children. We somehow need to unite under a banner that brings in all those who are frightened and confused and want a direction of hope.

We cannot meet their anger with anger. Anger has, for the moment, won, and that brings out an entire range of emotions in us, anger being among them. But we have to find a different emotion – a different spiritual orientation – to confront their anger. It has to be something soft. I think it should have to do with the children.

There are many armies needed in a war, and with many skills. This, now, is a war. But it is not a war for political power, it is a war for the soul.

Remember this: anger might protect our children, it doesn’t guide them.

We have been given a moment, and, though it came from a dire and unexpected event, it is a moment, nonetheless.

Once we are past the shock and anger and disbelief, we need to seize it with gentle, thoughtful guile. We must not become them. We must do what Sitting Bull, one of my true heroes in life, counseled.

“Come,” he said, in the face of a government that vowed to destroy him, “Let us put our minds together to see what kind of lives we can make for our children.”

This is our time.  This is our moment.  We need to do what is right, and we need to do it together.







29 thoughts on “We need to move forward. Here are my first thoughts.”

  1. Your post is so right, and we needed this talk in your usual eloquent way. It’s just so hard to believe, and I think most of us will need some time to even understand how hatred and racism is so prevalent in our country. I think that’s just such a shock…. Thank you for helping us deal with this…. I know you’re right …it’s just so hard to fathom though… still in shock… and feel a need for junk food ! LOL Thanks Mr. Nerburn for being someone who always lifts us up when we need it most… truly

  2. Dear Mr. Nerburn,

    Thank you for this beautiful essay.

    I am a senior Filipino-Canadian residing in Calgary, AB, Canada. I recently became a lawyer and I practice law with the intention of broadening my practice in Legal Aid, Alberta. I also feel the need to work within my ethnic Filipino-Canadian community.

    Can you give me permission to print your article and spread it to our different organizations here in Calgary?


    Anthony L. Po

    Murray MacKay Professional Corporation
    Barristers and Solicitors

    #210, 3505 – 32nd Street, NE
    Calgary, AB T1Y 5Y9
    Tel. (403) 532 8288

  3. “There are many armies needed in a war, and with many skills. This, now, is a war. But it is not a war for political power, it is a war for the soul.”

    Kent, I believe you’ve written the words of the century.

    Thank you.

  4. Thank you. So well said. This helps me move forward with all of this chaos and fear that is circling round. I spent yesterday with full permission to feel whatever rose up. I took myself out of the world, into quiet and long walks.. watched my pets be them. Stopped checking to hear the latest developments, put on music and focused on how my body felt so that a clear sign walking in nature would be noticed. A rainbow popped out. Grateful it was a big sign! How to deal with others and the various levels of emotions they want to discuss is what I want to understand better. I had to say, I am done with rehashing how we got here. Heal in whatever way you need. I’ll be here when you emerge. Together we can move towards wholeness. And I did eat an entire bar of dark chocolate!! It fed the scared child within me. Today does feel more connected.
    Reading this helps me more than I can say. Thank you.

  5. Yes, Kent. Beautifully put, as always. What kind of lives can we make for our children? That’s something a lot of us could rally around. Yet there are a whole lot of people who voted for Trump who are angry and frustrated about their current situation… and Trump is vaguely promising to make their lives better somehow. What kind of lives can we make for our children, and our poor, and unemployed, and underemployed?
    I keep thinking that we’re all one big dysfunctional family — in this country, and in the world — and we’ve just got to learn how to get along without killing each other. Maybe a good common theme would be creating new partnerships. Working with everyone in this country to see what kind of lives we can make for this generation as well as future generations. I keep thinking of the book THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS by Riane Eisler. I wish everyone in the world, especially Donald Trump, would read that book!

  6. Tatian Greenleaf

    I knew that I needed to hear your words after the election results. Thank you for this way forward. It’s so hard to think clearly right now. So hard to hurt so much. But I know that community will hold us together, hope will hold us together, love will hold us together, but action will be necessary.

  7. Pamela R. Letterman

    Such great thought, Kent. It helps me along the path of finding a good way to go beyond just coping.

  8. Thank you for your healing words and a reminder where to direct our energies. Sitting Bull’s message will be my compass.

  9. Many thanks for your encouragement Kent. this election is the slap along the back of the head, the swift kick in the tuchus, the lightbulb that goes on, our aha moment that each positive deed builds on the previous and lays the foundation for the next. you are so right, time to act, not sulk.

  10. I love this, Robyn. It is a banner under which I could march with pride. I will post it somehow. Maybe it is the rallying point we need. Who knows? Great oaks from a single acorn grow.

  11. Kent, wonderful words that not only describe the current ‘crisis’, but more importantly shines a light on the way forward at a time when many are trying to turn the lights of humanity off in the West. Many of us in the U.K. have been devastated by the Brexit vote, the move to the right and a less open, inclusive and tolerant society. It is now a reality here as the support for right wing politics, reports in our popular press and the increase in hate crime bear witness to…but they’re still not the majority – as we know they are not the majority in the US. Decency and humanity will prevail, but I suspect not without a struggle. But it must be the right kind of struggle, not meeting like with like. Maybe this ‘anger’ needs to vent before we can find the way forward?

  12. Kent,

    I feel compelled to share my thoughts and perspective. I do not mean to offend anyone, nor do I wish to cause harm. I do not claim to be correct in my current understanding…what follows is my opinion.

    Sitting Bulls words were an invitation, that invitation has never been acknowledged or accepted. He spoke to a system of beliefs that was and is incapable of hearing his words or accepting his invitation. The system was designed to exploit, which is the sole purpose. It creates (instructs) individuals who’s ears become pierced through a subtle process.

    I liken beliefs to a virus, which can only be seen through intricate enhancement. One of the largest virus known, as of 1996, was 1000 times smaller than a pinhead. That is the level of deceit that has taken place in our society. The individual is handicapped from the beginning by the level of deceit in our society…they are born into system beliefs that lead to dead ends.

    They spend their lives trying to figure it out. They cannot because their beliefs are contained within the box, and the system does not allow critical thought. If one attempts critical thought, society will attack the individual, and suppress the thought. The viscous cycle continues to the next generation, and more virus appear. Society will continue to degrade…but as if on steroids, unless the insanity is halted.

    We are in this together, and is meant to be. The only way out is through critical thinking and a willingness to accept we have been deceived since our birth. Until the individual questions every belief ingrained within them, and strives for truth, our society will continue to decline.

    The responsibility of those representative the system is to stay within their box of beliefs, in action and words. Public words are spoken, but for the purpose of deceit, they will not take any meaningful action outside of their box of beliefs.

    Within the box of beliefs is the “free world” and all inhabitants. The inhabitants are a resource for the elite whom have created and maintain the box of beliefs for their own benefit. The inhabitants live their lives within the box of beliefs without even a hint of the deceit that enslaves them.

    When an issue arises that does not share mutual responsibility from competing interests, one perspective acts from the box of beliefs…they speak many words, but say nothing, they appear pro-active, but do nothing. Through deceit they apply the systems box of beliefs upon the unsuspecting, for the purpose of control.

    The other perspective is not limited by a box of beliefs, nor does it rely upon deception. It represents the way of life the creator envisioned for all human beings…true freedom, not the illusion of freedom.

    I grieve for the way of life the creator envisioned. In short we must become the solution. We must connect on a spiritual plane that transcends the false reality that many have been trained to believe in. We must first look within for the answers. Many are in this process, including myself…but one thing is evident. The current system is void of meaningful results…results that will sustain life.

    That is a hurdle that many cannot seem to grasp. Generations have been trained to believe in a system that leads to slavery for the majority, and perceived riches for the minority. Created reality places a value upon devices that the masses seek because they believe that is what sustains meaningful life. This struggle continues from one generation to another, and ends without purpose.

    I think mother nature is the earthly guide the creator has given us. A concrete environment in which meaningful life is sustained, despite the attacks from the disconnected (man). Man must reconnect to nature to find his fulfillment, while at the same time be guided by the good spirit. If it is good for mother nature it is good for us. If it is bad for mother nature it is bad for us. Mother nature will eventually correct, and wipe out that which is in her way.

    Today we are at the beginning of a process in which our false reality has come to light, and those whom find that reality unrewarding are seeking real truth. Real truth will disconnect one from the current system, and they will eventually participle in it only to the level of needs. False reality must be acknowledged, and placed where it belongs within the heart of the individual. It will never be eliminated. This must occur on a mass scale for a true transition to take place. If/when a transition takes place it will be evident in those whom chose to lead.

    I intend to become the individual the creator envisioned me to be, the rest I have no control of. From this perspective I share information that is intended to get individuals to think, and hopefully break free from the created reality, and begin to seek their transition from it. Our lives have been hijacked, and our joy has been suppressed, but the real truth does exist. Real truth has been buried by evil forces that rely upon non disclosure…it is in the graves of our ancestors. One must grab a shovel and begin to dig to find it…We are all related.

    “The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it.”
    – John Hay, 1872

    “…[S]o long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise,to put shackles upon sleeping men.”
    – Voltaire

    The video’s below may ruffle feathers, but an important perspective can be gleaned from them.



    Patrick D.

  13. Thank you Kent for your remarkable words. Now it´s the time to see how many of us have become sensitive enough in these matters you talked of and are strong enough not to turn gentleness and hope into anger. Sometimes I think there are periods in time when human mankind is challenged to find out how grown up we are, if we are able to reach a hand even to those people who are against us and our opinion and if we are able to understand someone who´s not of our kind, to walk in his or her shoes for a little while. I think it´s such a time again.
    We have these problems in Europe too. I feel a little bit afraid about that but still I´m calm because I try to listen and to learn. I´ve noticed that anger will turn away if someone notices that I will listen to him, to take his problems and fears seriously. For me that´s part of the advice Sitting Bull gave us. But before we can put our minds together we need to know each other and respect each other. But this needs courage and a open heart. Have a good day and best wishes from the other side of the ocean!

  14. Thank you. My mantra is now: Out future, All children. Our future, our earth home!
    All of the issues you name are so important! We must move beyond anger and despair and act together for the common good!

  15. Thank you for your well thought out response to the chaos of our country at this moment. i agree whole heartedly that we must come together and fight for our future, our children and grandchildren’s future, and our country. We must unite and continue to fight for rights of ALL people.
    Move on, accept the outcome and work to make this a better country for ALL. Especially for those who will carry on our future.

  16. There is a selfishness and lack of empathy to our culture, perhaps to human nature, that I fear even love and concern for our children cannot change. Also, blind and stubborn adherance to ideals has often led to cruelty and tragedy–and again I fear even the love of our children cannot bring people to be reasonable until great damage is done. This has caused me to ask if the lesson of this election, for me anyway, is to withdraw and “take care of your own”.
    Mr. Nerburn, I very much agree with your analysis and thoughts, but I fear it will not shake people from their beliefs and ideals or penetrate beyond a very thick layer of selfishness.
    These are my fears for my kids. I certainly hope we can rise to the challenges that lie ahead.

  17. I do so agree, Bob. But, from where I stand, I have no choice but to put my heart in the right place even though my mind might say otherwise. How, indeed, are we to raise our children? This is the question we all must ask. To stand as perpetual outsiders and cynics? To accept what they are given and to accommodate? To seek a third path, as yet unclear from where we stand in space and time? To rely on naive hope and optimism about the good intentions of the human race? None seems like a wise choice. I have decided that the best I can do is to model what I think is an appropriate response to the world, given the lights and skills that I have, and hope that it serves as a guide to right behavior for them in the face of whatever their times may give them. I didn’t choose these times, and I don’t like them. But we play the hand we are dealt. It is given to me to write. It is given to others to do otherwise. As I get older, I want the younger generations to see that I haven’t given up. They must know, before they dismiss me as an irrelevant geriatric, that a man who has lived long sees the world as they do, but does not turn away from its challenges and inequities. I am no longer a fighter, at least not in the way I was in my youth. But I can try to be a beacon and a counselor. I wish there was more, but being a light in dark times may be the most we can hope. Onward through the fog, looking for the light.

  18. I’ve been thinking for a long time now on what to say in reply. Sometimes the words don’t come and this is one of those times. You’ve hit upon many things in my own life that are just too big and too unresolved. So, I just want to say, first, thank you for the reply. Second, you have made me realize that in addition to taking care of my own, I must also fight because it is all part of the same thing. Maybe there are lessons in these events, in these times, that cannot be learned any other way, or, maybe not. But for our children, all children, we must fight and give it our all, each in our own way each and everyday.
    You are, of course, still a fighter; keep on going! All the best to you and your family as we enter a new year.

  19. These are hard times, Bob, and somehow different from what I’ve seen before. Trump is a brutal, superficial man who has exposed a dark stain on our American psyche. He is not contained by rules, laws, or custom. He is arrogant and narcissistic. He is, by all indications, a sociopath. If he lived in my neighborhood I would not let my children go to his house. Yet about half of voting America believe in what he says and is, or are too uneducated and blind to be worried. This is a deep sickness in our collective national soul, and none of us knows quite how to respond. Hold your children close and stand firm against this in any way you can. We must not let him snuff out the light of decency in our hearts or in our country.

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