by Kassandra Lamb
We usually avoid politics on this blog, and I will attempt to do so in this post as well, in that I will avoid coming down on one or the other side of the political fence as much as possible.
But I feel the need to address the social and psychological ramifications of the election that occurred last month. And in light of the fact that tomorrow is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, this seemed like the right time.
I’ve witnessed a lot of elections and a lot of presidencies. General Eisenhower was elected two months after I was born. He was the last president who came into office with no political experience per se.
I was eight years old during the Kennedy-Nixon campaign season. It was so divisive that we school children played in two groups, on opposite sides of the playground. The Kennedy kids and Nixon kids hurled insults back and forth at each other, even though we had no idea who these men were or why our parents hated or loved them. (Yes, this really happened!)
And America survived.
May you live in interesting times.
~ Chinese curse
We are living in interesting times. Right now, half our country is celebrating and the other half is scared witless. How well we survive these interesting times, individually and as a nation, will depend a lot on how we choose to respond, emotionally and socially.
Regardless of which half of the country you are part of, here are some thoughts to keep in mind, now and in the coming months.
“Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Part of the appeal of Donald Trump for a lot of people was his nose-thumbing at political correctness. Some people definitely get carried away with PC these days—it drives me nuts at times—but the concept exists for a reason.
PC is about not offending people or hurting their feelings.
I had a friend in high school who was of Polish descent, back in the days when jokes about how dumb Polish people were abounded. She would ask people what their ancestry was, then good-naturedly retell the “Pollock” jokes she’d heard, subbing French or English or Italian for Polish. We got the message.
So before you use that non-PC name or tell that non-PC joke, ask yourself how you would feel if it was aimed at you or your group. If you don’t like being called names, don’t call others names.
Also, if you are a Trump supporter and you value your relationships with family, friends and coworkers, DO NOT gloat. Your side won, now be a good sport.
The people on the other side of the divide aren’t just disappointed by this election. They are scared!
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
These words struck such a chord in people’s minds during WWII, not because we as a country had nothing to fear at the time (we had everything to fear), but because the concept that fear itself was a greater enemy rang true.
For those who are afraid, try to develop a wait- and-see attitude. There’s really little choice at the moment. Getting oneself twisted into knots with speculation is not helpful.
And speaking of speculation, I’d also suggest minimizing your exposure to the news media for a bit.
Trump is an outsider. He has little loyalty to either political party. So how this is going to shake out is anybody’s guess at this point.
Try to get on with your life until we see what happens.
“Judge not lest ye be judged.”
You may be thinking, “Well, some people have a very legitimate reason to be scared right now.” Yes, they do, because sadly this election has brought out the bigotry still lurking in certain elements of our society. This is pretty scary for all people who are not white, straight and American-born.
But as one of my African-American Facebook friends pointed out, this is just business as usual in America. The bigotry never really went away, but now the white folks are seeing it more blatantly.
It’s horrible hate crimes have increased and that people are being victimized by these hate crimes. But having our denial shaken about bigotry is not necessarily a bad thing.
And before you judge your neighbor who voted for Trump as a bigot, keep this in mind. Many of the people who voted for Trump didn’t do so because of his bigoted comments. They did so in spite of those comments, because they are either loyal Republicans who believe in the ideology of that party or they are concerned about things like jobs and the survival of their families.
I’m not saying it’s okay to ignore those bigoted comments. I’m just telling you where that neighbor may be coming from. Put yourself in his shoes before you judge. Or better still leave judgement out of the equation, give him a friendly nod, and get on with life.
Hate thrives if we keep stooping to the haters’ level.
“We shall overcome.”
Social change marches on, for better or worse. It’s erratic sometimes, suffers setbacks, but it does move forward over time.
When I was a kid and teenager, premarital sex and having a child out of wedlock were two of the greatest sins. Young people were forced into loveless marriages, thrown out of their parents’ homes without a penny, or shipped off to some home for unwed mothers and then forced to put the baby up for adoption.
Today, the most conservative of families in this country hardly bat an eye when their children cohabitate or give birth without the benefit of matrimony. A very conservative friend told me recently how proud she was of her daughter who waited to marry the father of her child until she was sure the relationship was on solid ground.
Changes that are good, that are kind, that are right, eventually endure.
“Practice random acts of kindness.”
I’m wearing a safety pin these days. I ordered two of them from Etsy, one in gold and one in silver, to match all my other jewelry.
Trump supporters, these safety pins are not a political statement! They are not anti-Trump.
They are anti-hate. They are saying to those who are afraid, “I am a safe person to interact with.”
They are symbols of kindness and tolerance. They are an attempt to heal our divided society, not contribute to the divide.
If you find yourself objecting to these safety pins, ask yourself why. Why is it a problem for you if I tell others, through a pin on my lapel, that I am a tolerant person? Does that hold up a mirror to your face and show you someone you don’t like? Your side won; now be a good sport and get on with your life.
If you’re a white folk like me wearing a safety pin, here’s a short article, by a young woman named Maeril, with a great suggestion for how to intervene when you see someone being bullied, while avoiding confrontation or coming across as the “great white savior.” It’s illustrated with little cartoon frames. You move up next to the person being bullied and engage them in mundane conversation, while ignoring the bully until he or she gives up.
Check it out.
Note: With some trepidation, I’m leaving comments open. Please no tirades, blatantly political nor bigoted comments. This post is about trying to understand the other side and healing. Any comments that go beyond the bounds of civil debate will be deleted.
Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.
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