“It’s always darkest before the dawn… It’s always darkest before the end too!”
I heard Ted Turner deliver those lines once and they always make me smile. It’s also a healthy dose of perspective in a hyper-political time where society is on edge.
We enter 2017 unsettled as a society. And it’s making people feel beyond anxious. There is a palpable sense of fear for many people. For many others, there is a feeling of conquest. Ideology and judgment have taken over civil discourse. Respect, listening, and learning has been replaced by, “I’m right. You’re wrong. Now shut up.”
The truth is we are not at the beginning or near the end of anything. The recent election will not hasten the end of time, nor will it ignite a renaissance.
The election of Hillary Clinton would have simply been more of the same. Of course, we cannot afford more of the same. The vast majority of Americans are not in a good place. The election of Donald Trump is the result of a good portion of that majority simply having enough of the elitist status quo -on both sides of a broken two-party political system.
If this was all that resulted from this election it would have been dramatic, but tolerable. Instead, it has unleashed vocal positions on ideology and judgment.
Unfortunately, as I mused about in an earlier blog, the long-standing two-party system championed by so many people is already obsolete. Therefore, can we please stop arguing? You are not going to change anyone’s mind. We aren’t advancing a thing by constantly stating the obvious, engaging in the same argument over it, and calling each other stupid.
Which leaves us with the bigger challenge. Who are we? As my yoga teacher said this morning, the election has brought out people’s true feelings. And that’s o.k. He remarked that if you really believe there is a superior race, gender or sexuality, then play that out in the open and see how it works. Be who you want to be in society, uncloaked, out and proud, and see how those edges feel. Most importantly, let’s see how it works out for society. I agree that it is refreshing and important that we can drop all pretense. Let’s find out who we are. What is the American ideal? Who are we really?
If you believe all socialism is evil, then argue strongly against any of it, not just what you don’t want or need. For example, you should reject Medicare, Social Security, public works projects, universal health care, roads, education, police, and the military. There are dozens and dozens of American socialism programs.
However if you believe, as I do, in a hand up and in public policy that elevates everyone to a position where they can dream, work, succeed and have rights as equal as the next person, then argue for a fair allotment of resources so that we all win. If this election was about taxes for you, pay particular attention to whether a change actually works. Accordingly, measure whether it increases productivity, jobs, and prosperity. And not just for you. We are all in this together. A broken health care system, unemployment, poverty, and crime cost all of us. No sense polishing the stateroom of the Titanic. If we do not succeed as a society, we all fail.
Ultimately I believe the majority of the American people will meet in the center, realizing the Left, Right political gaming of society is a massive failure and that, collectively, we can create something that actually works.
I would assume just about everybody ignores the type of person who was elected. If you believe in him now, it must be in support of his policy positions, not his character or integrity, or obvious lack thereof. No doubt he has shown vindictiveness, volatility and a shallowness marked by a near total lack of intellectual or policy curiosity that is bewildering and could prove dangerous in a complex and unsettled time, domestically and internationally. But he also has energized just about everyone to take a stand and to come out with their true and honest beliefs and to engage. And that is a very good thing.
It is up to each of us to lead. In order to lead, we must have integrity. For this reason, insist on facts. Speak your honesty, supported by truth. Next, hold every elected official and the media to the highest standard of accountability. From here on, hold everyone to their words and their promises. Measure how any policy changes work for you and for society.
All things considered, we should be grateful that this election has awakened a passion to be engaged. No matter what you believe, be an activist, engage in the process and argue passionately for what you believe works for all of us.
Whether it feels dark or light, it’s time for you to become passionately active and work tirelessly for what you believe in and for our children’s future.
If not now, when?