Like many of you, I have been shocked by many of the things I’ve seen and heard during this election and even today after the results came in. It has been a particularly divisive time for the country, unlike any we have seen in a long time. How did we get to this place?
There are many people in this country who felt unheard. They felt taken advantage of by Wall Street and distrustful of “the establishment.” They were frustrated and angry and voted for someone they thought would shake up the government. They decided it was better to break up our current system with the hope of getting more of what they wanted.
The problem with this approach is that you can throw out the baby with the bath water. While there may be problems with our current system, we could find a way to fix the parts that were broken while keeping the progress we’ve made. We could even make radical change without alienating each other.
It’s just like a personal relationship – you can find a way to dialog and actually listen to each other, or you can give up and break up. We had two candidates, just like two partners in a relationship. One who promotes a “me first” and an “us (my favorites and supporters) against them” stance, and one who wants to include and protect the rights of everyone.
Obviously, you can’t have a good relationship when you put yourself first and try to hoard things for yourself, while building a wall against others. You can’t have a rational dialog when you overgeneralize the population of an entire country or religion.
These two candidates were as different as night and day and there seemed to be no middle ground. So many voters were conflicted about the choice that a large percentage didn’t even vote, and it was actually a very close race in terms of the popular vote. A large percentage of people who did vote are still and shock and don’t know what to make of it.
We can learn a lot from this election. We can learn that we need to really listen to each other. We need to talk things out before it get so bad that people want to throw in the towel. We can take note of how all the name-calling by one candidate inspired hatred and violence, and learn to take the high-road instead.
We can also learn to stand strong and confident even when the other person loses their cool and spews venomous insults and threats our way. And finally, we can allow people to learn from their own mistakes by letting them feel the consequences of their choices and actions – a much more powerful lesson than we could ever teach.
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