America wakes up as divided as she went to sleep. He has handily won the Electoral College. She appears to have won the popular vote. The latter is electorally irrelevant and statistically insignificant. The country is rent in two.
For this piece, I hope to write to us, meaning all of us – backers of Hilary, Donald, and the tiniest slice who are still undecided (a little levity there!) I will use “quote marks” to signify the unfortunate language of division that has become so rooted in our vocabulary and our minds. I will say “we” when I mean progressives, and I will say we — without quotes — when I mean ALL of us. This language of division illuminates but it also obfuscates aspects of reality. I think it might help us to be more conscious of how our words shape our underlying understanding of our ongoing illness (and struggle for wellness).
when two parts of our body politic have been attacking each other for years, often brutally for the past 5-15 months, each deeply resistant to the other? Today, a half feels vindicated, finally able to move the body in the right direction, while a half feels lost, unsure of whether to resist or give in. The tiniest of margins in our winner-take-all world means all 3 branches have been ceded to one half of our warring-against-itself body.* So, the body remains on high alert.
Monday I wrote 3 prescriptions for us: (1) Listen and include. (2) Be civil. (3) Become more fact-based.
I think today is a big day for all 3, but I want to focus on the first.
To young people on “our side,” many of whom felt disenfranchised by Bernie’s loss and now may give up entirely. And to listen to all those against whom the president-elect “doubled down” – immigrants, Muslims, etc. People need to be heard. I worry about young people, because their social and moral minds are still developing. I teach them every day. I note how last week’s cover story in Newsweek documented what I have observed — their alarming rates of anxiety and depression. We need to hear them, as this event is a shock to their systems of understanding, belonging and difference.
We need to listen to ourselves and our “allies.” My wife, a warrior if ever there were one, asked me this morning, “What are Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages** of grief?” It feels that way, as though someone has died. (But to my core message and metaphor: we are ONE body, and we are in processes of both sickness and healing. We are NOT dead.)
Human animals process by talking, crying, laughing, wailing, running and cogitating: seeking explanations. It’s healthy for us. It allows us to find how to change: the courage to re-enter “the fray,” the serenity to accept what we can’t change, and the wisdom to discern the difference.
We need to listen to Trump supporters. Many of “us” did not hear the level of their pain, anger, and alienation. We need to listen as a response to our auto-immune condition. They seemingly “attacked” and defeated “our” cells and antibodies, but we cannot intelligently forget that they felt under attack. Whether we work, worship, or walk with them, we need to help them feel heard. As humans we long to be heard. It’s also pragmatic: We need to listen, because “their” elected officials who control all three branches will be listening to them. We need to listen so we can reason and ask reasonable questions. We need to listen, too, so that we also can be heard. The two sides have been talking past each other, in a series of “yes, but’s,” until it got so bad that friends literally quit listening to each other.
One of my students led our class to a wonderful video of civil listening. It’s 10 minutes long. It’s really worth watching and listening to.
Please feel free to use this space as people do so beautifully (and unlike so many other sites) where people listen and speak, to respect each others thoughts and especially their FEELINGS in this first day of healing.
Lead with your best.
*If the judiciary is still theoretically non-partisan, litmus tests of the post-Roe era make that true only in name.
** Kubler-Ross nailed that deep change is not rational. You don’t “think” your way through the loss of a loved one. Our emotions — and our expression of them — is what heals. Listening is important to each of them. Her stages were:
Denial (is there a recount possible?)
Anger (at Trump, Comey, FoxNews, even Hillary, and any number of other scapegoats)
Bargaining (not sure with whom)
Depression (watch for the signs, especially with kids, of removal, lack of motivation, prolonged sadness)
Acceptance (knowing what we can’t change, constructively moving to change what we can and must)
Photo: LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-election-new-york-20161108-story.html