Monday, November 14, 2016

In the Aftermath of the Election

Unless you live under a rock you know what happened Tuesday. Yes, I know; if you read one more Facebook rant, meme, or blog post about politics your head is going to explode. Here me out. If you are living under a rock do you have a vacancy? I'm moving in, because I for one would like to move on.

I am not here to tell you who you should have voted for, who I voted for, or where president elect Donald Trump falls on the spectrum between anti-christ and savior. Here's the thing, the election is OVER. The results are in. We have the right to vote in this country and even if the choice is between an egotistical, obnoxious reality TV star and a lying criminal (as some may believe) we still had the chance to cast our votes. Do you know why we vote in this country? I mean other than the fact that people have fought for our liberty to do so. We vote because we don't all agree. Someone has to decide and in a democracy that someone has to be the majority. It's the only "fair" way.

The electoral college makes little sense to me and I am not a fan of the two party system, but here we are. The votes have been cast. After any election some disappointment is expected. To say this election has been particularly polarizing is the understatement of the decade. Feeling are hurt, tempers are flaring, and people are lashing out blindly.

Here's what I tell my kids. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. You can't always decide how you feel but you can always decide what you say and do. It's okay to be disappointed, angry, enraged, even. It's NOT okay to hurt people to diffuse your anger. It's not okay to hit your brother because he's annoying you. It's also not okay to burn the American flag, break car windows, destroy property, put people in danger, or assault anyone either with words or actions. It is okay to dislike the president. It is even okay to hate the president. It is absolutely not okay to threaten to assassinate the president (or anyone, for that matter).

The riots have been heart breaking to me. I told you I wasn't going to mention who I voted for, but in the interest of full disclosure, I will. I didn't vote for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. I voted for the third party candidate Gary Johnson. I couldn't get behind either Trump or Clinton from a personal or moral stand point. I am only adding this fact because while I may not have the same visceral reaction as a Clinton supporter, I also can't share the relief of Trump supporters. Regardless, Trump is our next president and violent protests change nothing. Yes, damaging property and hurling threats is violence. The behavior I've been seeing is absolutely disgusting, and it began before the rioting.

When I opened my Facebook feed the morning after the election I quickly wished I hadn't. Did I expect everyone to be linking arms and singing Give Peace a Chance? of course not. I'm not naive. I expected opinions and feelings and memes. What I saw was a train wreck and as much as I wanted to, I couldn't look away.

Over night my Facebook feed had turned into a seventh grade classroom during recess when the lunch mom is stuck in the bathroom with the runs. People against Trump have expressed concerns about his ugly speech, his insults, and his prejudice. I understand these concerns. What I don't understand is how many of these concerned citizens can turn around and do exactly what they criticized Trump for doing. Name calling. That's not democracy, it's hypocrisy. Remember that book, Everything I Needed To Know I learned In Kindergarten? If you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all.

I saw posts saying that the election results "prove the uneducated win out over the educated". I saw friends who voted for Trump called racist, homophobic, stupid, and small minded. I saw people accusing each other of not caring about human rights, and of being privileged and naive. Jan was the recipient of some of this mud slinging. I am sharing her experience with her permission. Her post expressed disappointment over the name calling and juvenile behavior. She asked that we all please be kind with our words and respect each others' opinion. I'm paraphrasing here. She stated it much more eloquently that that The point is, while she did receive some agreement, some so called friends downright attacked her. One even unfriended her. This is the behavior of adults. This is the example we are setting for our children. If someone has a different opinion than you, call them names, beat them down, dismiss THEIR concerns. Don't respect their view or agree to disagree; accuse them of  hating entire groups of people.

Don't get me wrong, I think that Trump making fun of people with disabilities, using fear as a tool, and making derogatory comments about ANYONE is abhorrent and also sets a terrible example. I have talked to my children about this. My three year old doesn't care as long as no one touches his hot wheels cars, Oh, to be three again. My seven year old has been affected. A kid who is "different", he has in his short life been on the receiving end of hurtful words. He worried that Trump was a bully and Clinton was "going to be thrown in prison". We had the election coverage on a lot in our house, but even if we didn't it would be impossible to shelter him from it. Instead, we used it as a learning opportunity. In general, it was a great time to teach him about the branches of government, American history, the power of the president and the checks and balances in congress, and the difference between a democracy and  a dictatorship. It also opened up dialogue that people don't always use their power for good as God wants us to do, and sometimes the very people who should act as role models and protectors stoop to name calling, fear mongering, and lying to get ahead. These are issues he will face both in his personal life and on a broader scale. We all do. When I was bullied in school my mom used to tell me that we can't control what other people say and do, we can only control what we say and do in response. These are wise words.

Obviously my son is not on social media yet, but I did talk to him about how people had strong feelings about the election results, and some of these people were taking their anger out on others in the form of insults. Yes, even adults behave badly. Calling someone a racist or a bigot is a serious accusation. Please don't assume someone's reasons for voting. Chance are no one agrees one hundred percent with a candidate. Some Trump voters probably are racist or homophobic, but saying they all are is not better or worse than marginalizing any group of people. Some voted pro life. Many on both sides were concerned with the safety and security of our country. Now we have to worry as much about tearing our own country apart as we do about terrorism. I'm not be dramatic. This is a very real concern. It's time to move on and come together. This doesn't mean we all have to agree. It doesn't even mean we all have to be friends and get along. It comes down to respect and tolerance. Let's set that example for our children, for our leaders, for the future of this one nation under God.

We can't change the results of the election. We can't change what has been said and done. We can be mindful of our own words and actions. I saw one response to the election claiming, "Last night, hate won." I say hate only wins when we let it.  I will end with a notorious quote from Mahatma Ghandi: "You must be the change you want to see in the world.

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Kat! Excellent insights and comments. I can't agree more--what's done is done and now to move on in a positive direction. Thanks!