A winsome twosome? An unlikely pair? Whichever your view, I’ve been doing some thinking about the results of our recent election, and I am ready to talk about those with you now.
I’ve been playing my thoughts over and over in my mind and I’ve been trying to figure out not only what I think, but also how I want to convey those thoughts. My initial reaction was to post something like, “this space left intentionally blank” on facebook. Clever, but ultimately meaningless. Then, I thought about posting about how I have been following Thumper’s Mother’s principle…I didn’t have anything nice to say, so I didn’t say anything. That didn’t feel quite right either, though I must say that I believe it’s a pretty good principle to reflect on before actually speaking/typing.
I realize that my silence might be misconstrued for complacency or apathy, but that’s not it. I’m overwhelmed. I haven’t wanted to make anyone upset, so I haven’t said anything. I know, it sounds weak. Maybe it is. So…I’m speaking up now.
I’m not happy with the outcome of the election, and that’s putting it mildly (see below re: optimist). I’m sad for our nation and I am particularly concerned for the safety and well-being of my friends and family who are in any way marginalized in our society (I feel like pretty much everyone I know falls into at least one category). I’m concerned for the safety and health of all of us – this feels like uncharted territory and I think we are all at least a little bit scared or apprehensive about what’s going to happen in the weeks, months and years ahead. But, what really is getting to me is the way some people have reacted to the outcome. On any side. Politics, frankly, doesn’t matter at this point. If you’re being cruel, destructive or otherwise causing pain to someone who is not exactly like you or your ideal of what you think an “American” is, and you’re feeling bolstered by the outcome of this election to engage in these types of actions or comments, then shame on you. It’s 100% on YOU. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with who won, who lost, who’s a crybaby, whatever. If you’re using the outcome to justify destructive, violent actions or to cause pain, whether it’s verbally, emotionally, physically, or a combination, you are making poor choices and you are impeding on others’ abilities to live their lives to their fullest. That is wrong. You are in control of your actions and your words, and you are also in control of your clicking finger. If you click “like” or share memes that perpetuate these destructive actions and divisive words, you are contributing to the problem. Nobody else is responsible for your actions or words. Just you.
And you know what? That sucks. I’m an optimist, a glass half-full kind of girl. But lately, I’ve seen so much pain, and fear, and anger, and hate; it’s disconcerting. It’s hard to look at all of that ugliness and still find good, and meaning, and a path to the right side of history. But, there it is, and I had to acknowledge it. Now, it’s time to move through it.
The reason I decided to finally write, and let you all read, my thoughts is because I found a way that I can contribute positively to the conversation. I don’t think I have anything to say that’s going to be profound and change people’s minds, and if you’re reading this, I expect you probably already see things in a way that is similar to me, at least to some extent. If you gave up on reading this when the opening paragraph didn’t immediately reflect the title, then you’re missing out because I’m getting there now.
I titled this fiction and politics. The reason is because fiction draws many of its finest characters and moments from real life, real people and real situations. Sometimes, real life even turns around and reflects the fiction that had been reflecting real life before it. It’s all intertwined. And, it can be beautiful. Think about your favorite stories. Even the most fantastical stories have a foundation in real moments. Real moods, real feelings, real relationships. A friend posted the other day about how someone else had posted about being totally upset by the hero in a story being a bit of a dirtbag. He’s the “good guy,” how could he possibly be a dirtbag and be the good guy? Because, people are more than what we label them. It is easy to fall back on labels when dealing with someone or some idea that you don’t like or don’t agree with. Easy, but not helpful.
You’re a republican? Those elitist liberal leftists! They’re the ones to blame! You’re a democrat? Those backward rightwing conservatives! They’re the ones to blame!
Finger pointing. Labeling. Placing blame. Not helpful.
We teach our children to see their friends for who they are, not for what they look like or where they come from or what groups they belong to. I think we should remember to do that as adults. From the early stages of this particular election, if I posted about politics, my main point was one of inclusion, and embracing the other. I believe this is still important.
We must build bridges now.
We must find the things we love, like, or can at least tolerate, in each other. Just like most well-written fictional characters have many layers, and many traits – positive and negative – so do real people, and you may not agree entirely with the ideals that someone supports or with their view on certain topics, and here’s the kicker – that’s OK. It really is. I know a lot of my friends and I see many things in a similar way, and that’s great, but I know I have views that they might not agree with, and I’m certain my friends have ideals that don’t reflect my values. That’s ok. We aren’t all cookie cutters or carbon copies of each other, nor should we be.
I’m not suggesting that we gloss over the things that have happened that are wrong, or look past things that we don’t like and just hug everyone because: peace and love, man. People who have made poor choices need to own those choices and make amends. That’s how we fix things. We need to face our challenges and deal with the consequences – good or bad. But, what I’m saying is that simply because someone has different labels than you do, doesn’t mean that they are only a manifestation of those labels. Maybe you know someone who sits across the aisle from you politically, and until a couple months ago, you considered that person a friend. Try to consider that their labels do not define them. Just as your labels do not define you. Find some common ground, and start (or re-start) there.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got right now. It’s not huge, it’s not profound, but it’s a positive contribution to the conversation. I truly hope people try to find their way back to some sense of harmony so that we can move forward as a unified nation.
And, if you want to speak up, or speak out, or do something for the good of our country, I’ll be there to support you, even if it’s only with a click or a smiley face, for now.