Insurgencies of Spirit: A call to conscientious objection in Trump’s America



Well. Trump has been elected President of the United States, and the Klan is celebrating in Mebane, not 45 minutes from where we live.* Today I’m contemplating the very real impacts a Trump Administration – and the accompanying cultural shifts – are going to have:

  • On my interracial family.
  • My Muslim friends, who fear deportation.
  • My queer friends, who fear their marriages annulled.
  • My friends and family who are people of color, who don’t even want to walk outside today.
  • I also think of the women in my life who fear their health care choices will be subjected to even more intrusion than they already are.

Ku Klux Klan marching on a bridge in Mebane, North Carolina. November 9th, 2016.

Even if Trump doesn’t/can’t carry through all the terrible things he repeatedly vowed to do to Muslims, immigrants, POC, women, and LGBTQ folks – and its unconscionable that so many Americans voted for him, thinking/hoping he could – the cultural validation he gives those who take his words and translates them into action is chilling.

I will speak words of love and comfort to my daughters, and my wife, but we’ll by no means rush to a false sense of equilibrium – crying ‘peace, peace,’ where there is no peace. I do not wish to be one who “leads the people from peak to peak, giving them no true rest.”

We can’t pretend that this moment will simply beget “business as usual.”

It isn’t.

It won’t be.

Because half of America affirmed their approval of a declaration of war on some of the people who matter most to me.

I won’t take up arms against flesh and blood, but – grounded in solidarity, contemplation, community, and place – I will participate in an insurgency of Spirit, summoning the full force of millennia of protest movements, beloved communities, liberation theologies, organizing strategies, and resistance from below.



As a white male, I will resist the temptation to presume a place of command in this insurgency, as this is precisely the pattern of being that’s gotten us into this mess: the last gasp of Colonial nostalgia and Boomer entitlement. I will become a grateful student of those far wiser and more experienced than I – the Mujerista, the ZapatistaStanding Rock Water Protectors and Black Lives Matter white supremacy conscientious objectors.

Teach me, if you’re willing. For I stand with you.

I not only stand, but I kneel: Considering, with as tender a heart as I can allow, the sheer immensity of this moment. Were I hearing God as a Hebrew prophet of old, I might prophecy that this is an apocalypse in the purest sense – a revelation of America as we’d rather not see her:

Afraid, opportunistic, neglecting the weightier matters of concern for the poor and working class, instead exchanging heartful neighborliness for scapegoating the most vulnerable in our midst, while out-sourcing oppression worldwide to maintain an exorbitant national lifestyle for our elite.

The sobering reality is that this describes the life of America under virtually every past administration, Democrat and Republican alike. In each generation, this unseemly collateral damage is cloaked under more, or less, respectability, but these are our original sins. Donald Trump is for man of us a cartoon super-villain of a Presidential candidate – now, a President-Elect. A caricature of our worst traits, writ large. We could pretend before, but now our hubris is unavoidable.

The invitation, as with the prophets of old, is that of repentance. Thorough-going and creative acts of changing our course, and imagining a wholly different future.

All empires crumble. And it could be that civilization itself is revealed as the extended human trauma-response I (and a growing number of others) believe it is. But this isn’t cause for despair. I think another world – something better than civilization – is possible.

Will we co-create it?

Update: Apparently the KKK was not celebrating on a bridge in North Carolina, but simply a group of Trump supporters mistakenly identified as the Klan. I’m thankful, and this is a lesson for me to not immediately believe every bit of bad news I hear. Unfortunately, Klan support for Trump is very well founded – and they are planning a victory march in a different part of North Carolina.

9 Responses to Insurgencies of Spirit: A call to conscientious objection in Trump’s America

  1. Art November 10, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    Fantastic article. Thank you. Unfortunately, the bit about the Klan isn’t true. Check Snopes for details.

    • Mike Morrell November 12, 2016 at 12:06 am #

      Thanks, Art. I did amend the Klan piece above, and think it’s quite fortunate, actually. 🙂 Sadly, they are planning a ‘Trump Victory Parade’ soon.

  2. Billy November 12, 2016 at 9:36 am #

    Great ideas. For me, the worst part of this election isn’t that Trump will be ruling from the White house, it’s the realization of what so many people actually think. I have to look at it as a blessing though, that the veneer has been stripped away to reveal the degenerated core of our culture. It’s all really out in the open now. I’d always hoped that we were building, building, building toward being a better society, but in actuality we’ve been paving over issues that were never solved. It has to be all ripped up, dug out and made firm before we can even start building again.

  3. Seth Meyers December 20, 2016 at 6:44 am #

    What would you have written had a president been elected who openly supports infanticide?


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