I am heartened and disheartened. I have hope, am hopeful and feel hopeless at the same time. I have been locked in a battle with myself and it started with thinking. We all think – some more than others – but we gravitate to those who think like we do. We belong to tribes of like-minded thinkers because its comforting and sometimes peaceful. We are what we eat and what we believe – belief being the more sustaining resource in our lives even when facts dispel the validity of those beliefs
Do we have to change our beliefs in order to understand another’s perspective? Therein lies the state of our political climate today. The nastiness that social media has engendered aside at what point in our recent history did our collective US psyche become exclusionary, hateful, wall building, racist, fearful, gun-toting and murderous. Charlottesville, politics in general, Trump’s dismantling of the federal government, the alt-right, Steve Bannon, the rise of idiocy personified by a completely unqualified government official named Jared Kushner has disheartened me.
The swift and unexpected demise of a sexual predator named Harvey Weinstein and subsequent outings of famous men who look upon women and men as objects ( Kevin Spacey ) have heartened me. Virginia electing a transgender woman, Danica Roem, to their state legislature not because of her sexuality but because she stood for something and campaigned for something so much more meaningful than what bathroom a man or women, girl or boy could pee in – heartened me.
The United States – the only country now – to not be part of the climate accord – Syria signed on for heaven’s sake over the past weekend – makes me feel all hope is lost for protecting this great and glorious earth because the Paris climate accords need the elephant no longer in the room.
The battle with myself is to enter into dialogue with those I absolutely and resolutely disagree with. To listen to how their fear, their human need to belong, their lack of education and lack of desire to educate themselves beyond their tribal beliefs without judgement, without beating them over the head with fact or denigrating their lack of sophistication. It’s not just Republicans either. I listened last year to people in my tribe go on about Bernie, hatred for Hillary and the idiocy of Trump. Progressive ideas are wonderful – free education, health care for everyone etc. – and ones that I think are attainable with thoughtful bipartisan participation. But many progressives that I spoke to had very little understanding of how government works and how it doesn’t work. Like the Trumpians, progressive’s emotions and investment in their belief system was paramount.
I was dismayed by the those who made protest votes. As we have now come to realize, Jill Stein was a Russian investment. The Machiavellian cyberattack ads that promoted her and asked Americans after November 8th to send in money for a recount were Russian financed and many Americans bought it. I joined the the Russian endeavor to have California secede as a silly protest not knowing that CalExit was orchestrated by a cyber Russian guy working from outside St. Petersburg until one of my clients told me and exposed it on the air. So we humans can be easily fooled by our emotions and Russia counted on that to divide a nation in 2016 with their targeted and hateful messaging.
In some respects, Trump has been a wonderful example in showing Americans why government is important. It is the glue that keeps this disparate, divisive society together. As he dismantles the foundations of democracy, progressives and conservatives are slowly coming together at the state levels to preserve a way of life that asks for each group and individual to think about “the other” in more humane ways.
And herein lies the rub – at least for me. How do I keep my emotions in check when dealing with those I don’t agree with? I never bought into the endless Facebook – now we know to be Russian – ads. I understand politics better than most people and I saw the ads for what they were but I didn’t understand where they ultimately came from.
Importantly, because I understand that now, I have a responsibility to think outside my tribal box and thus the battle with myself. I have a wonderful client who has taught me how that’s done but I fear that I am still an old dogmatic attack dog!