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Jan 162017
 

Few people have more justification to question the legitimacy – not merely of Donald Trump’s presidency, but of our entire political system – than John Lewis. Born to sharecroppers in the violent, apartheid world of rural Alabama, he later had his head split open on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, named for a former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.

John Lewis (foreground) AP File Photo

Only six years apart in age, Lewis (76) and Trump (70) are now forever linked. Yet how different have been the trajectories of their lives. One a bullhorn bellowing from outside the ropes, looking out for himself and encouraging violence by others on others; the other a man pledged to non-violence, beaten senseless for insisting his country live up to its “self-evident” truths long denied to his people.

Until November, Lewis seemed to point the way forward for America, toward increasing inclusiveness and greater justice. Now our future seems less clear, as the man who underwrote eight years of malicious attacks on our current president’s legitimacy prepares to succeed him in office.

It’s time to accept the reality of the election and move ahead. That does not mean we must put aside our principles or give up our hopes. Rather, we must learn how to come together under a president who is intent on keeping us divided.

In this quest I take heart from something Van Jones said last month, that “Trump is much worse than anybody in this country is willing to accept, but a lot of his voters are much better.”

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Rescue at Sea

Part 1. Setting Off.

Like Ishmael, “I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world,” and so for some unfathomable reason I accepted the invitation of an old friend to sail on the return leg of this year’s Marion (Mass.)-Bermuda race. I had never been on a small boat miles from any land before, and I looked forward to the opportunity to get away, to learn whatever I might and to have, perhaps, a bit of an adventure.

Please visit the Writing page to read the complete Rescue at Sea series.

James G. Blaine

James G. Blaine is a writer, teacher and consultant whose wanderings have taken him from teaching severely autistic adolescents to writing intimate portraits of urban communities, from running a group of community newspapers to running for Congress, from designing courses and programs for educational institutions to trying to manage a cattle ranch in the Colombian llanos. He currently writes "Perspectives," a regular blog, consults on environmental justice programs with the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and works with non-profits on writing, planning and program-development projects.