Last night I wrote a post about the class acts of Hillary Clinton and President Obama in conceding the election, congratulating Trump and wishing him success. The irony did not dawn on me until this morning, when I received two gentle admonishments that now is the time to set aside the angst and rage over the outcome, and think of ways to help heal the rift that this election has caused. The voice inside my head, and the words of other friends, more cool-headed than I, helped me realize that I have not been as gracious as those who I admire for their ‘grace under fire’.
These words from Jim Wright speak volumes: “But here’s the thing: you can NOT become that which you’ve fought against for the last eight years. You cannot let yourself become the hysterical Chicken Littles, the conspiracy theorists, the raging haters and the drooling nuts you and I have faced down for the last eight years. I don’t want to hear talk of revolution or second amendment solutions or any other such nonsense. Life is risk. Life is challenge and setback. The measure of a person is how they face that risk, how they rise to the challenge. This is no time to lose your reason or your dignity or to retreat into your belly button.”
And I remember the wise words of our First Lady, Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”
And the words of my blogger-friend Keith, who said to me, “Nonetheless, we must come together as a country. And, we must support the President Elect as his success is ours. I share all of your concerns and disappointment, yet our coming together has to be more from the ground up, as we can not rely only on our leaders.”
Unlike some others, I DO actually listen when people speak, and these comments caused a subtle shift in my thought processes this morning. I frequently have conversations with myself – two-way, or sometimes even three-way conversations, which sometimes turn into arguments (I never claimed to be completely sane). This morning’s conversation went something like this:
Me: I cannot stand Trump and I will NEVER call him “President Trump”. NEVER!
Alter-me: Did you even hear what Keith and Jim said?
Me: Yes, but he is a horrible man and I cannot write anything positive about him … EVER!
Alter-me: Well, think about this for a minute. What is one of your biggest criticisms of Trump? That he is vindictive, loud and obnoxious, right?
Me: Yes, and your point?
Alter-me: My point is … look at yourself. You are doing exactly what he does!
Me: No, I’m … well … perhaps just a little …
Alter-me: And just what is to be gained from it? You can rant for a day or two, because you need to, but ultimately you are hurting yourself, and your readers will soon tire of hearing the same old rants, day after day.
Me: How can I ‘play nice’ with such a despicable man?
Alter-me: I don’t know … that’s up to you to figure out, ditz! Think about it … use your brain instead of your mouth for a change. Just stop with the cussing and yelling, because you’re giving me a headache!
The conversation continued, but the bottom line is this: While I still believe there are some very real dangers in a Trump presidency, there is a right way and a bunch of wrong ways to make my points. Some have said that perhaps all his rhetoric over the past year and a half was just bluster, and that the ‘real’ Donald Trump will shape up into a reasonable, thinking president. I don’t necessarily think so. I think that Trump is a sociopathic narcissist, just as he has come across on the campaign trail. However, he will become the POTUS on January 20th. I have made comparisons to 1930s Germany, and I still see the similarities. So, I ask myself, what can we, collectively, do to try to prevent an equally disastrous outcome? And the answer, I think, is open conversation. Not yelling, screaming and name-calling, but honest, genuine conversation. And watchfulness. Participation in government is both our right and our responsibility, and it is an ongoing process, not just one we exercise on election day. Our participation most of the time takes the form of our voices, speaking facts rather than rumours, writing letters to our elected officials, making ourselves heard. But always, doing so with respect and a calm voice.
One of the things that disturbs me most is that so many in this country were swayed by Trump’s hate speech, his ugly rhetoric. I ask myself, “what have we become?” I understand the answer, that people are so fed up and disillusioned with the status quo, etc, etc, etc, that they are ready to jump on any bandwagon marked ‘CHANGE’. But change is not always for the better, and it disturbs me that the prevailing mentality does not think about this, but merely jumps on that bandwagon with blinders on.
Another of the things that disturbs me greatly is that the brashness of Donald Trump seems to have taken hold of much of the nation. I see it every day in the grocery store, online, and even in my neighborhood, though to a lesser extent here. We are all a part of the human race, regardless of the colour of our skin, our national origins, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. Why can’t we treat each other with kindness? As one friend recently stated, “While much of America seems to be getting more and more divisive, I’m going to be holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, greeting all I meet, exercising patience with others, and smiling at strangers.” I think this is something we can all benefit from. As I say every Monday morning on this blog, share a smile … it makes you and the other person feel just a little bit better.
I do not think that any of us who write with the hope of making a difference in the world can afford to simply sit back and ignore Trump, as we have already seen what happens then. I only half-jokingly swore I would move to Canada if Trump were elected, and my daughter and I seriously discussed this on Tuesday night. But no, running away is not the answer. I am going to stay, and I am going to continue doing that which I have tried to do all my life: fight injustice. I can choose, just as we all can, to be a part of the solution or to be a part of the problem. I have a voice, and I can choose to use it to build and repair, or to destroy.
Today I am stronger than I was yesterday. I am coming out from under my blanket of woe and am going to place my brain back inside my head and move on to the next step, whatever that may be. Enough feeling sorry for myself, for my friends and my country. Time to move on and figure out what is next. Many of my friends, people who I care about, stand to lose much once Trump becomes president. Our relationships with allies overseas stand to suffer under a Trump presidency. Our economy, our very livelihoods, stand to suffer if Trump actually does the things he has claimed he will. We need to watch, to speak when problems arise, but also to try to heal the rifts between the two sides of our country that are no more divided than ever in my memory. How we do all this, I do not yet know, but I am confident that those of us who pay attention, who read, who listen, will find our new direction. At the same time, I plan to take a cue from Ms. Clinton and President Obama and try to be a bit more gracious as I try to find footing in this new era.