What does it mean and what do we do next? I’m trying to figure it out this morning.
I’m not writing because I want to say something to you, I’m writing because whenever my mind is overwhelmed, I have to write to untangle the thoughts.
I had actually dreamed that the results were different this morning: Stephen Colbert had the winner of the election on the phone and she was crying and he started crying too, with happiness or relief. But it didn’t happen. Today I woke up and got ready for work. I walked 15 minutes to the bus where I am now.
The whole time I committed these calm daily routines, my mind was racing. I was wondering if it was ok to do the mundane in a morning that felt so weird. Like when you have traveled to another place and none of your things have a spot where they belong. I was wondering if the world was going to fall apart. I studied the streets and people I passed to see if they would some how be different. I felt suspicious of this foreign world. I thought more people shared my values and I am shaken to realize they don’t. I wonder if I’ll be the target of prejudice now, or my parents in Nebraska. What does it mean when a country is presented with the morally reprehensible side of history with all the knowledge at their fingertips and still says ‘yes’?
I believe it means people felt unheard and other people aren’t listening. Some of us are in our echo chambers where all our friends feel the same way we do. “I’m uninterested in hearing their justifications and excuses in my newsfeed”— as someone told me on Facebook this morning. It’s really frustrating and annoying when someone can’t engage in conversation with you in the way that you want, but it’s also part of human dialog and community to do so. This is what I believe. My white male friend has to go through diversity training at work and doesn’t understand it. He gave some of the common excuses to why he thinks it unnecessary and we talked about it for a long time on several occasions. He told me it was the first time he’s ever talked about it with someone because know the way he feels is ‘wrong’ or unpopular. Maybe I wasn’t able to change his mind, but what I could offer was my honest dialogue and let him tell me how he feels to so that I can understand it. That’s how I can try.
I believe there is a misunderstanding on how to affect policy. I’m not as political as I’d like to be or as it is my civic duty to be. I spent hours Sunday researching the bills and the candidates instead of following along like I should have. But I believe this has gone past issues and people were voting what they felt. This is wrong because how you feel is not always what the issue represented at the hand is. How you feel about gun control doesn’t mean all issues on the ballot are good or bad. It means you should look at the particular policy in front of you and with the power that comes with research, decide what’s best for your community now & in the future. I’ve been a guilty child of complacency as well. It’s effortless to feel something and difficult & unglamorous to do the work of educating myself and making hard choices to vote on something. I thought about ways we could fix this misunderstanding and I think it would be a worthwhile exercise to teach children in school how to research the issues on the election and form opinions on them. This is not the teacher telling them what side to vote for on the issues, but teaching students themselves they can impact their government and giving them a valuable process for being active in the system. Maybe a group of students have to present the pros and cons for each of the issues on their local ballot. I’ve heard everyone say ‘I can’t wait for this election to be over.’ I know what they meant, but I guess now we’re reminded that democracy is continual work.
I believe there was willful ignorance. Voting with your feelings has meant being blind to so many hateful actions. If you feel like you want change and voting on one election isn’t going to make it (which is true, you should be voting more of your local elections)….then you might have been pushed to vote for something different. Anything different. If it means ignoring racism, bigotry, selfishness, lies, and more—than you would. And to me, that’s deeply sad. It’s what makes me feel the people who are ‘conscious voters’ consciously decided to be support such hate in order to vote the way they did. I have no words for this scenario because I don’t understand the logic it took to get there.
I believe there was cowardice. It takes a lot to stand up, go out, and become a target. It takes little update your status to some mocking jibe. I’ve mentioned this before, but satire is complex. I worry we—I—was too quick to make fun of something and too slow to offer solutions and educate myself instead. I would like to be more direct in the future.
It doesn’t mean we can’t overcome these wrongs. It doesn’t mean we’re less of the good people we were yesterday (or better people because of how we voted, mind you). We don’t have to accept prejudice or lies. But I needed to acknowledge what has happened and think about why it did so it doesn’t happen again. I was jarred by the results. I was not fearful enough of how different my sentiment is from that of the country and I shouldn’t be so out of touch again. I guess now it’s back to work.