After the marches: on becoming a conscious objector


I’ve had my eye trained on the newly elected US President, but am watching with even more interest how the people who didn’t vote for Trump, are reacting to his first days in office.
As has been widely reported, there was Madonna’s speech at the Women’s March, in Washington, where she famously said ‘Yes, I’m angry, yes, I am outraged, yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House,’ and ‘to our detractors that insist that this march will never add up to anything, ‘fuck you.’ FUCK YOU!’

An expression of love?
These statements were taken out of context – I heard her entire speech on YouTube. The rest of the sentence after the part about blowing up the White House said, ‘But I know this won’t change anything. We cannot fall into despair.  As the poet W.H. Auden once wrote on the eve of WWII, ‘We must love one another or die. I choose love.’
But any Trump voter or right wing politician has a reasonable right to ask how saying ‘I’ve thought about blowing up the White House,’ and ‘FUCK YOU!’ to detractors is an expression of love?
Then there was the famous anti-bully video put up on YouTube speculating that Barron Trump, President Trump’s youngest child, may have autism.  The video was subsequently championed by Rosie O’Donnell, who claimed that this was an amazing opportunity to bring attention to the autism debate. Amid the ensuing media storm, when Melania Trump threatened to sue the creators of the video unless they took the video off the Internet, O’Donnell wrote an impassioned note on her website to say that she meant no harm; she recently learned her three year old has autism, and so has a personal interest in the subject.
‘I have been immersed in that world/reality since. . . as we try to grab onto anything to keep us standing. The knowledge we r not alone, there r others living this too. When I saw the anti-bullying video that mentioned Barron it spoke to the symptoms many ASD kids have. It was educational and informational. These symptoms so many do not understand– I thought – how amazing IF it is true.’
Perhaps not so amazing for Barron Trump, a 10-year-old boy who did not ask for this kind of intense public scrutiny and who has to live among students his own age, who may start asking disturbing questions, particularly after a Saturday Night Live star also piped in with the Tweet that he could be the ‘first homeschool shooter.’
Small wonder that people like Newt Gingrich announced on Fox News: ‘I love the left, when they said “I dreamed about blowing up the White House,” they actually meant “yellow purple banana,” but they didn’t want to say “yellow purple banana,” so they said “blow up the White House.” What you have is emerging left-wing fascism. . . .The truth is, she ought to be arrested.’
High and low
I have one big question to all this:  How is spreading gossip about a 10 year old or saying ‘F-you’ to people who don’t agree with you an example of ‘going high when they go low?’ the catchphrase for the Democratic party after it was coined by Michelle Obama?
Many of us have studied the Conscientious Objectors, the people who refused to fight in our national wars because of their objection to killing.  We now need an army of ‘Conscious Objectors,’ who know how to disagree without getting ugly themselves.
Marching was great – the ultimate ‘we’re doing something’ activism. As David Brooks wrote in the New York Times recently, ‘People march and feel good and think they have accomplished something.  They have a social experience with a lot of people and fool themselves into thinking they are members of a coherent and demanding community.’
Yes, marches can mobilize the troops into realizing they have to band together to get something done.  But the ‘central challenge,’ the hard graft, as Brooks says, is to ‘modernize a binding American idea.’
If the protesters to the current administration wish to change things, they have to offer a ‘better nationalism,’ says Brooks, that pulls together around a ‘central mission,’ that ‘balances the dynamism of capitalism with biblical morality.’
In other words, they have to offer a single, alternative vision that everyone can rally around, not just women, not just minorities. And when the opposition goes low, the trick is to stay high – all the time.

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34 comments on “After the marches: on becoming a conscious objector”

  1. We must continue to "go high when they go low" and Madonna's choice to use crude words and her reference to responding with violence to our frustration and fear only hurt the cause of justice for all. It gives ammunition to DT's cronies and fans who think she personifies the liberal left. We are scared about what the next four years will bring to this country, we are even horrified at the agenda of DT but we cannot stoop to his level, the sign of someone with very low consciousness. Light overcomes darkness. Let us come together to be that Light. Let us stand strong against injustice and know that "This too shall pass." Love always prevails.

    1. I applaud Ginger Beck's comments. The way to go, Ginger.
      Yes the light drowns out darkness, and the only way to win is through love.
      I read and believe that an image or vision whether negative or positive, is the most powerful,concentrated energy of a large number of people.
      Last week's Woman's march in the United States and elsewhere proved that point. Ladies, we must keep that in mind. We are the ones, and we will be victorious.

  2. The lesson of Brexit & Trump is that insularity, racism, lies and obscenity can Trump decent civilised behaviour. Little wonder then that those who object strongly to insularity, racism lies and obscenity resort to the same tools that gave neo-fascists victory - sauce for the gander.
    Your statement "emerging left-wing fascism" shows ignorance of fascism which is a racist and aggressive nationalism, the driving force behind WW2 and more recently Brexit & Trump. Those who forget history ..... etc

    1. Actually, the "emerging left-wing fascism ..." was part of Gingrich's spewing. The quote marks in this piece don't reflect that though.

    2. Aldo
      You are like so many others who do not seem to know that fascism is simply the partnership corporate and government power.

    3. I read your statement that voting Brexit and Trump was down to racism. Please dont speak so generally and most definitely dont speak for me. I voted Brexit and immigration hardly entered into my decision. My choice was mainly due to watching our British fishing industry being strangled by the EU and their introduction of quotas whilst large companies (with enormous fishing vesstls) from other EU members were then able to buy these quotas and land the fish in the UK. Our farmers suffered the same when milk quotas were introduced. Much of the UK's farming industry is propped up by hand outs from the EU and this in turn doesn't appear to promote good farming methods or healthy animal husbandry. Young farmers struggle to begin new ventures as the system appears to support larger, established farms - sometimes earning millions when their turnover is already in the millions.
      The other issue which was not mentioned was the 'criminals charter' better know as human rights. Our jails are becoming places akin to hotels and ciminals now have a louder voice and more rights than their victims. Our justice system, that was once the envy of the world, is being watered down and the rights of the individual seemingly ridden rough shod over with corporative law bekng pandered to.
      In an ideal world, open borders are a wonderful idea but there is a reason why the U S and Australia etc have the strict entry policies and border controls that they do...surely wishing to do the same only means something bad in the eyes of those who want to see the bad rather. It is a good idea to seek to understand a situation fully. Maybe mainstream media should be avoided as they tend not to be unbiased any longer.

      1. Hi Jude,
        I don't know who you were referring to as 'you,' but I certainly never wrote that voting for either Brexit or Trump was down to racism. In fact, as a UK resident I wrote a very well quoted, impassioned explanation of Brexit for Americans and others who didn't understand why the UK would vote to leave the EU. I view it as a necessary part of evolutionary change.
        See my blog: Brexit: Igniting Evolution:

  3. Amazing how people get offended by trumps WORDS when Obama bombed and murdered innocent civilians on a daily basis with his drone war.

  4. I agree with the need to keep our movement on the high side! I was disappointed when I heard Madonna take her message where she went with it. While I understand her anger, we need to "be the change we wish to see..."
    the words she chose, leaves the entire march open to be labeled as violent extremism for anyone who wants to spin it that way. I believe our message is better served without using the negative phases that can be paraphrased and used to change the meaning of our march. I can understand people being upset at the phrase "blowing up the White House" and it undermines the message of inclusion and love and protecting human rights we were standing for. Meet every challenge with love. We are at the start of this journey with a long way to go.

  5. Thank you for expressing my thoughts as I have experienced the pain of witnessing dear friends express divisive and angry rhetoric via social media. This gives me hope and helps me to see how I can help to take things "high".

  6. Thanks, Lynne. I appreciate your comments and they mirror my own thoughts. Handling the projection of my dark side on anyone, including Donald Trump, is my internal job. And it's hard work.
    One of the most leveling statements I've know on the subject of discrimination was made by the '60's comedian, Tom Lehrer, who said, "I know there are people who do not love their fellow man - and I HATE people like that!!!!"

  7. In the final scenes in Starhawk's prescient book The Fifth Sacred Thing the peace mongers kept on inviting the warmongers to 'Come sit at my table'. I love that - and put another way "build your tables longer - not your fences higher'. Love

    1. The Fifth Sacred Thing is my favorite book. The quote, "There is a place for you at our table, if you choose to join us." Implies an open ended invitation to step into a different way of being. The key is that they (the protagonists) provide an alternative to the war-monging narrative that transcends capitalism and biblical morality.

  8. Way back in 1965, The Holy Spirit spoke through the Bishops at Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution Article 29, “to end discrimination within the Church for race and sex…as not the Will of God.”
    Ten years later at my spiritual "Rebirth", I heard the one word of "Equality" meaning Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity and Equal Respect for all people.
    Until discrimination is ended for the female half, the false belief in a male only god, a sin of idolatry, will increase selfishness and inequality in our world, without the more cooperative nature of the female half having an equal say, rather than the all more aggressive nature of males, and we will continue in one war after another, with an increased destruction of souls.
    Please confirm in your heart with The Holy Spirit, who wants to lead all good hearts to the fullness of truth, and our hope for eternal life.
    For more evidence: or
    Blessings for all the good you do.
    Betty C. Dudney
    Please share

  9. Thank you for this lovely post! YES…YESSSS to…"A single, alternative vision that everyone can rally around, not just women, not just minorities." I participated in the Los Angeles march to promote peace. It was beautiful to see so many people marching to support human rights in an arena that was void of any violence. I’ll admit, I was sad to see the few signs that were steeped in anger and lewdness. The signs I made for my 17-year-old son & myself read, "Peace Not Hate". For me...antagonizing anyone is simply not an effective means to bring peace. My focus is based on human rights...the right to clean water, clean food, healthcare (which I wish was not-for-profit) and equality for ALL the members of our human family. Gosh, corruption has been going on since the dawn of man...this is nothing new. Note however, we elected our first African-American president AND nominated a woman for president. Despite the current state of affairs, I believe we have evolved as a species and continue to do so. The fact that so many people are impassioned about human rights and standing up to keep them, tells me that perhaps complacency is over. Let's face it, who changes or takes action when everything seems to be going just fine? Most days when I am in nature, I always ask for more compassion, more love, kindness, strength and courage so that I may be a vessel of unconditional love...the GREATEST human power. I do believe this beautiful earth has given us a new opportunity to elevate the LOVE in our hearts. I often find myself asking God/Grace to make me a stronger vessel of unconditional love and understanding when I find myself having unkind thoughts of those who are steeped in ignorance and fear- for I myself have had those moments and I remain so far away from being perfect. I believe we were ALL born into this world as beautiful souls coming forth to develop more love and more peace for ourselves, others and this beautiful planet. May we ALL be vessels of unconditional love and spread peace throughout, in unity, as the human family we truly are. And so... I say...Thank YOU for the opportunity to strengthen my love, my compassion and my desire to promote peace as best I can.

  10. I hear you, Lynn. We have to "go high when they go low," especially now. And, I share your disappointment in (just those words in) Madonna's speech and the actions of the SNL bully. However, from my perspective, those of us in opposition to this presidency, are doing pretty well... Zero arrests at the march, strong voices speaking our minds (catch Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders speeches that day, if you haven't already), many, many groups forming in so many cities around the country to stand up for human rights, just to name a few, very wonderful things. We've FINALLY become impassioned enough to fight for one another and I am seeing people trying to choose one or two issues to hone in on. So, I just want to add, Newt Gingrich, Fox News commentators, those who didn't understand or were threatened by the march, etc., all in all, had very little to work with to even skew or spin. I think we are a pretty respectful entity in the face of this new president who is sadly and aggressively leading down a horrible, hateful path. And, I have every intention of staying on task to combat every single, ridiculous, misogynistic, racist thing this man and his followers say and do, as they do not speak for me or even for the majority of Americans. For my part, I will focus on all that is right and just and provide nothing "low" for them to focus on or spin. We've got a long, difficult fight ahead, I'm afraid. I struggle with words like, "nationalism" and "balances the dynamism of capitalism with biblical morality" as I find them loaded with pseudo-righteousness. But, thanks for the reminder to remain steadfastly honorable in our search for common ground.

  11. Lynne: Great blog, but it was Newt Gingrich, not you, who used the term "left-wing fascism" and who said, "(Madonna) ought to be arrested". The quotation marks stopped short of those phrases, so it looks as though you wrote them.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. We'll fix it. I definitely would never use those terms myself.

  12. Its all a load of tripe. These idiot left wing so-called celebs are leading gullible people into a land of greed. It's greed because they can't accept democracy. Trump was elected into the job and that's what these protesting palavas won't accept.

    1. Thank you Peter! So good to see there are grownups capable of thinking. Crybaby liberals just can't get over the fact that Hillary (far more flawed ) lost.

  13. Bullying a child is just plain wrong, no matter who does it. That needs to be clear, children are off limits. But why are the Bannon comments blamed on the Woman's March, in mass, with that blame continuing in this post? The few who did this should be condemned and silenced, but the whole movement should not be labeled with the actions of a few who aren't controllable. At least Chelsea Clinton came to Barron's defense, no one defended her when the right called her ugly. Fox News forgets the years the Obama and Clinton daughters were trolled, no outrage then. Monkeys, gorillas and worse were names used, tirades against girls for wearing skirts some deem too short, the list goes on. However, when these slurs against children happened I didn't blame my republican relatives and neighbors for the actions of a few, unlike today when the Woman's March, and even myself, have been held personally responsible for the attacks on Barron.
    I have to question this post -- why is there so much focus on these activities, as well as Madonna's language, which I wish did not occur, and not on the positive nature of the March and the loving, positive, non-violent nature of the protest by millions of marchers in this post? Lynn's post seems really out of balance It really makes me wonder, does Lynn have an undisclosed agenda? A softly disguised shrill for Fox?

  14. Madonna's error points up the need to acknowledge the different way some of us express ourselves, that can be badly misinterpreted by others, who see it as being violent and offensive, when our real goal is to bring together. Lots of us say extremely rash things to express our deep sadness and frustration, sometimes. We know we would never dream of doing it. But the opposition sees it, and uses it, to bolster their propaganda and build their credibility. Remember, you can't fight for peace. That's an oxymoron.
    David Brooks has the right idea: we need to "offer a better nationalism." And as Lynne said, "a single alternative vision that everyone can rally around." This excites me a lot because for some time, I have been working on developing an alternative plan, and I am in the process of locating someone interested in reviewing my ideas. (

    1. Diane, this sounds intriguing. Peace (and acknowledgement) is what we all ultimately want. I think that we need to "fight" for justice to get to Peace though. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I am struggling to keep a positive frame of mind and envisioning a fruitful outcome for Americans when I see the current president and his people enacting many acts of inhumanity, supported by greed and spreading lies. Unfortunately, he was not the choice of the majority of voters and now we are paying dearly for it.

  15. i believe the larger populace on both sides have very similar intentions and i also believe by and large they are interested in the betterment of the collective. They just disagree on how to get there and both camps are led by folks who have unfortunately been co-opted long ago by larger forces with vested interest and agendas. Lets not be fooled by the illusion of democracy we've been entrenched in. Neither parties represent our collective interests or betterment. The controlling interests behind the curtain wether "left" or "right" need to be exposed as one and the same. The trumps and the clintons, the bushes and the clintons, its eerily similar. As a filmmaker I've documented events where both were present and arrived on same planes, but never exited together in order to complete the narrative of political separation.
    We are at a precipice and if we could collectively use this as an opportunity to choose self empowerment and yes, wait for it, "LOVE" absolute and pure and unconditional LOVE, then i think we have a great chance to use this opportunity for real and great change.
    Lynn thanks so much for your insightful interpretations in this time of quick judgement and misrepresentation.
    I especially loved your recent piece on the unpredictable relationship emerging between trump and wakefield and Rkennedy and the possibility for raising more questions on the incestuous marriage between guv and pharma . strange times indeed but maybe a sign of fissures which may lead to more rapid changes than previously thought possible.

  16. Your Newt Gingrich quote has no end-quotation mark. Did he say Madonna should be arrested or is that *your* comment about the debacle? It's always the little things, isn't it!

  17. I appreciate people's right to protest, even though I think the attitude towards Trump and Brexit has got out of hand. We'll have to wait and see. There are many things to protest about. The Women's March was about their objections to Trumps comments about women. I appreciate their objections, but I would rather have seen a women's march protesting about Saudi Arabia and the treatment of women there. Women throughout the world are treated as second class citizens and there are literally hundreds of thousands of women turned into sex slaves every year. Treatment of women by Isis is horrendous. I feel more attention should be taken on these serious issues than for comments made by a man who needs to pay attention to what he says.

  18. Thank you for articulating my thoughts so well. I'm very glad to hear that there are others who see the hard work of "being the change we want to see" as internal. It has been painful to watch those who want to heal the world, lash out at their fellow humans, while we so much need to find common ground in order to preserve the planet and our presence here.

  19. Hi all, those comments are all Newt Gingrich's, and the quote marks around his remarks are correct - if complicated.
    Look at the quote again: ‘I love the left, when they said “I dreamed about blowing up the White House,” they actually meant “yellow purple banana,” but they didn’t want to say “yellow purple banana,” so they said “blow up the White House.” What you have is emerging left-wing fascism. . . .The truth is, she ought to be arrested.’
    I use single quote marks for quotes. The single marks surround Newt's own comments, he entire quote ends with a single quote mark, ending with the word 'arrested.' But he is also quoting Madonna, and for that I use double quote marks.
    I assure you the 'emerging left-wing fascism' phrase is all Mr. Gingrich's.

  20. Violence begets violence. Violent rhetoric begets more violence. And two wrongs do not make right. The riots to stop free speech on the Berkeley campus last night are disgraceful and show that the compassionate tolerant left wing has become what it claims to abhor.

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