Today, when my dog woke me for her morning walk, it was dark. The sun had not yet risen, and the clouds were heavy. But the darkness also emanated from within; a shadow on my very spirit. Yesterday was 11/8/2016, Election Day in the US. It was the culmination of a bitter battle … one that represented more than just a political struggle for choosing the leaders of a nation. It was a test of the soul of humanity, one that will have unknown effects for the WHOLE of humanity in the years to come. And in my mind, a test that we failed … miserably.
I am not alone in this feeling. Many were just a stunned as I was to find that so many of our fellow humans fell short of our expectations. Many of us are in shock; numb or in pain; feeling as if the floor had fallen from beneath our feet. We also feel anger, the need to blame, to fight back despite also feeling helpless. How dare they?! How dare they let their fear and anger; their distrust and dissatisfaction govern their choices to such an extent that we have given our great country to Frankenstein AND the monster he created? What happened to goodness and decency? I too felt the rage and disquiet. I too asked these questions. And I have an answer for you.
Trump operated by prodding the darkness that resides in each of us, and we want to blame those that succumbed to the resultant emotions, deeming ourselves so much better than they are. We find it so easy to believe that they are all hateful bigots, because a master manipulator knew how to bring this darkness to the surface. We want someone to blame, so we throw all of these people into a group, claiming they all share certain characteristics, little realizing that we are doing exactly what we believe makes them so despicable.
Intolerance, bigotry, blind hatred based on the flimsiest of criteria did not suddenly appear because Trump started shouting about them. They exist because we live in a society in which educators are at the bottom of the respect pool, while entertainers are at the top. They exist because we live in a society that defines moral character by how much we own or what dogma we follow rather than by the choices we make and actions we take. They exist because many of us who would remove them from our culture have fallen complacent, instead of doing our part to change mindsets.
Stop blaming ALL Trump supporters for standing true to their beliefs, as wrongheaded as we may find them. Sure some of them are not nice people. But poor character is not defined by the political party one belongs to. It is not defined by where one lives, or even the level of education one has. It is simply defined by how one acts. There are just as many people who did NOT support Trump who behave badly. Before we judge others for THEIR behavior, maybe we should take a good look in the mirror first.
And while we are looking in the mirror, maybe we should own up to our own responsibility in the continued existence of the more reprehensible of human character traits. How much effort have we taken to change such mindsets? How firm are we in actually showing our support in the “real” world? It’s one thing to SAY “I support!”, quite another to demonstrate it in day-to-day life. When was the last time you called out someone for a disrespectful joke? When was the last time you defended someone who was disrespected … even if only marginally? Have you ever asked someone you considered a bigot WHY they felt that way? Have you ever tried to shift their perspective instead of just judging THEM for judging others?
If the society we live in has shifted in a direction that we do not like, WE are as responsible as those who embrace the “wrong” way if we have not put all of our effort into CHANGING things. Trump won because his supporters stood strong in their support. This is to be admired, even if we disagree with their ideals and dislike them personally. If we had been as strong, then maybe the vote would have gone differently. And don’t start hiding your head in the sand or trying to escape because we failed to shift the balance. That is why we failed in the first place. Fight back. Don’t just let the “bad” guys get their way. Fight back. Don’t moan and whimper. Fight back. That is what Trump’s supporters did, when THEIR ideal world was taken out from under them. If you don’t like their world, fight for yours.
Stand strong. Or admit defeat.