Blind-sided, thunderstruck, ambushed, stunned, floored flummoxed. Just flattened. By what’s just happened in our country – no, not what just happened – what just surfaced.
As my genteel cousin put it, “Surely not?” Exactly. Surely we are not the people screaming racist epithets, intimidating children, advocating jail for our rivals. We are not the people that believe silencing those who don’t look like us or believe like us will solve our problems. We are not the people who obsessed on the media’s 24/7 shouting matches, while shaking our heads about the ugly campaign. We don’t riot
in the streets after an election and burn the President Elect in effigy. We can’t be those people. And yet we are.
Until November 9, I carefully sidestepped awkward social and political conversations. After all, everyone’s entitled to her/his own opinion, right? And what does it matter really? Things will go on pretty much as they always have no matter what I do, right? So why risk damaging a friendship, causing a ruckus. Why be “that” woman? I really didn’t know what my friends, my neighbors, even some of my family, believed at a core level, didn’t really want to know, and didn’t share my own opinions. We coexisted; polite and superficial strangers under the skin. So when November 8 happened, we were amazed to find out who was living next door, or even in our own house!
It’s pretty clear we don’t understand each other. Perhaps we don’t really understand ourselves. Hopefully the 2016 election will inspire us to learn more about ourselves and our government and moreover, to become involved in our communities. We can learn to listen respectfully to each other with no other agenda. We can have discussions that don’t deteriorate into shouting matches. Ideas that challenge us are healthy precisely because they make us uncomfortable. They stretch us and keep us growing.
On the morning of November 9, I began a one woman listening campaign. I talked to neighbors on my morning walk. I listened to members of my church, to my family, to my Facebook and Twitter friends. And I heard some surprising things. Some not easy for me to hear. But my friendships were not threatened. In fact, just the opposite. After all, we all want to have our voices heard.
I know the fluttering of the butterfly wing in my tiny corner of the universe cannot influence world events. But just as one vote makes a difference, so does one honest conversation.
So let’s talk! Leave a comment. Tell us what the 2016 election meant for you. Who knows? We might not be as far apart as we thought. At the very least, we are sure to learn more about our own beliefs.
5 thoughts on “Flattened”
Thanks for this Louise. I agree that listening is an important step. I’m disheartened that many don’t want to listen & are resistant to fact checking. Makes it hard to find common ground. I’m really upset by the anger of teens& children. Lots of name calling, bullying & threats by those to young to be acting thoughtfully.
Thanks, Patricia. It IS hard to get people to listen. What I find is that they want me to listen to them. That’s OK. I can ask questions. Sometimes their answers surprise themselves!
Like it or not, we’re all in this together. We can either squabble like children or learn to live together and hash out our differences without name-calling. Starting with me.
And me, Susan. So easy to blame “the other.” Hard to work through the uncomfortable stuff.
We talk an awful lot about diversity, but it seems we cannot stomach diverse political points of view.
I will repeat what National Book Award winner Colson Whitehead said in response to the election results, “Be kind, make art. and fight the power!”
Some people felt forgotten, slighted and put down by the recent administration, and casting their vote a certain way was their way of doing that. For those disappointed with the results, it will take the form of holding the new administration accountable to its promises.
I am a mixed bag politically myself, and have always been proud to have friends in both camps, it makes life more interesting.
I happened to have replenished my wardrobe with a lot of purple this fall, and I tell people that the mix of blue and red is a message of national unity.