We all know the real State of the Union. We know the version we’ll hear from one person — and we know the truth.

We know, because we are here on the ground in the trenches of our daily lives here; in communities we love, living alongside people we know, building the America that actually is.

And yes, we know well the horrors of these days; the human rights violations and the daily gaslighting and the abject cruelty of those holding power. We know their peerless corruption and their limitless enmity, and we know how sickening it all is and how exhausted we all are.

But we know something else, too: we know what we’ve seen with our own eyes as we’ve lived and worked and created here:

We’ve seen millions of ordinary people becoming activists, engaging with the political process in their local communities in ways they never have before; running for office, opposing legislation, registering voters.

We’ve seen vast multitudes marching in the streets, in solidarity with vulnerable communities, and in shared outrage at the human rights atrocities created by our own Government.

We’ve seen churches embrace their calling to be true sanctuaries; giving protection and rest to exhausted, terrified refugee families, finding themselves assailed by those who would use them as propaganda, for a fake news story designed to engender fear.

We’ve seen churches and moms’ groups assemble at PRIDE parades to offer warm, unashamed embraces, to let LGBTQ people know they are seen and loved and supported—and do not need to change.

We’ve seen ordinary people leveraging their social media platforms to expose corruption and protest inhumane legislation and to pressure elected officials into representing them instead of their own interests.

We’ve seen border walls opposed and Muslim bans fail and healthcare repeals defeated, and states defying unjust Presidential decree, because good people have raised their voices en masse.

We seen teenage shooting victims lead the charge against the proliferation of assault weapons, becoming a national movement of young people, that will not allow the gun makers and the politicians who profit from them, to kill with impunity.

We’ve seen our judiciary stand up time and time again to defend our Constitution and our people from those who would disregard both. We’ve seen courageous men and women, step from the shadows of unmerited shame to name their abusers, to pull them into the raking light of accountability, and to allow other sexual assault victims to speak their truth.

We seen loud, defiant caretakers of love and diversity outnumber and chase away Nazis and supremacists, attempting to intimidate good people into silence on street corners.

We seen thousands of people in progressive churches and women’s groups and civic gatherings and humanist conferences and interfaith services, all standing together to say that the enmity coming from the Oval Office does not speak for them, that it is not our America, that it is not who we are.

We’ve seen the very best of humanity rise up in the face of the most inhumane behavior.

This is the real state of the Union: It is black and gay and Muslim and indigenous and undocumented and Jewish and lesbian and white and Atheist and Latino and transgender and female and immigrant and Christian and male and agnostic and Buddhist and bisexual and Sikh.

It is We the Actual People here, doing the messy, difficult, painful work of making it great. It is America the effin’ beautiful—in all its radiant glorious diversity. It is the America of the tablemakers and not the wall builders. It is a nation that refuses to consent to vitriol, to surrender hope, to abandon empathy.

It is a nation of tired, disheartened, disillusioned people, who still enough strength to give a damn about more than only those who look or talk or worship or love the way they do. It is a Union attacked and terrorized and betrayed from within; one that has seen far better days—but one that will not let one man or a handful of men, keep it from seeing better days again. It is a defiant declaration of liberty for everyone.

Never mind what one small, petty, hateful, traitorous man says. Pay no attention to the gaslighting or the fake news or the scary stories. Don’t listen to the liars.

This is the real state of the Union.

John Pavlovitz

The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.