Silver lining #1: One of the pleasures of post-election life is having conversations with #nevertrump folks whose political positions differ from mine. Back in the day we might have argued about policy, but these days we have a republic to preserve.
Silver lining #2: Tonight I worked late and then went straight to a visitation. Afterward I was starving, so I swung into Panera to eat a quick bowl of soup. A man was standing right behind my chair, talking into his phone. He was 2000 miles from home, he said, when his radiator died a spectacular death. He was stranded in Gladlyville until it was fixed. But he'd paid for the expensive repair with his debit card, and now his bank account was overdrawn by $11. He was trying to find some food for himself and his kid. The story twisted and wound -- I won't tell you about all of his frustrations -- but the bottom line was that this guy was having a rough time and reaching out for help from someone at home. He sat down at a table near mine, still talking. "Well, if you can't help me, what do you think I should do?" he asked. "I don't know what to do."
The voice in my head was loud and clear: Welcome the stranger. I fished in my pockets for cash and walked over to his table. "I didn't mean to eavesdrop," I said, "but you sound like you're in a fix." He looked astonished. "A lady in Panera Bread just gave me some money," he said into the phone. "I'm going to Kroger to get some groceries." Still looking surprised, he waved and thanked me. "God bless you," I said, and waved back.
I wish it hadn't been so surprising to him that a stranger would help him. I wish we lived in a world where the kindness of strangers was more of a given. Be the change you wish to see in the world, I guess.
Here's the silver lining part, which is also the embarrassing part: I'm not sure I would have done that six months ago. I was trying to put my finger on the reason why this guy seemed so much like a stranger to me: he had a conspicuous Southern accent and he sounded like a working class guy. Now that I think about it, I'm afraid...he sounded like my stereotype of a Trump voter. But I have had occasion recently to reflect on the fact that "welcome the stranger" is a mandate, not a serving suggestion: even when it's inconvenient, even when it feels a little risky.
Maybe it would have been nicer to reflect on that fact in happier circumstances, but I'll take my silver linings where I can find them these days.
(PS I know it's obnoxious to classify people based on their accent and apparent education. I'm working on it, I promise.)