Friday, November 11, 2016

Post election thoughts

The thoughts expressed here are solely my own.  I feel the need to state that up front.  I'm striving for neutrality and fairness.

3 days ago we voted.  As in any election, only one candidate can win.  Unlike past elections, the response has been quite different this time.  This whole election cycle has been different than most, a large part of this I feel belongs to Facebook, Twitter, and social media.  Another part of this is how we perceive everything we see on a screen as truth.  Whether that screen be in our living room, on a desk, or in our hand.  This was not a clean campaign on either side.  And many non-candidate groups ran their own negative ads or portrayed the candidates out of context.  I personally found it hard to judge the positive merits of the candidates while being overwhelmed with the negatives.

More so in this campaign than in others I think we have made our decision and judgments based on the character we see of the candidate from words and actions that we have seen on a screen.  Possibly knowing (or not) that the presenters of that information only want us to see what they want us to see.  And this is what is making it harder for those whose candidates did not win.  Fear of the reality of many of the phobic or unkind (I'm not a fan of the word hateful, although it can apply) statements made by candidates is not being weak or unreasonable.  Unkind statements about the supporters of the candidates who did not win is not necessarily a move in the direction of a unified and supportive country either.  What we need though is a unified hope that the unkindness being shown currently and in the past will not be the reality in our future.

I've seen friends online who have been mad, happy, sad, gloating, despairing, or complaining about the others who do not feel as they do.  I think this is what upsets me the most.  I posted something similar to this on Facebook, and I don't think anyone has unfriended me yet.  But I'm purposefully not reading the posts of some of my friends because I don't think they realize how hurtful or despairing their words may seem or how out of character they seem to me as I read their posts.

Another thought is that we are often braver posting things online than we would say in front of a large group of people.

Maybe because I'm laying low today recovering from the flu, I looked up both candidates speeches after the election.

Donald Trump's acceptance speech posted on CNN

Hillary Clinton's concession speech posted on CNN

I could not find text of concession speeches for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.

After reading both speeches, reading one of Bernie Sander's post-election posts, and reflecting upon the past few months, I've decided on a few things.  And yes, I originally voted for Bernie Sanders.  However, that does not define who I voted for this past week.  I visited a few candidate review sites and took some online polls that showed me candidates whose platform matched my opinions on the issues.  It was pretty eye-opening for me.

Our country and our government is more than just our elected President.  We have a democracy with a systems of checks and balances.  It is not perfect, but it is not a dictatorship.  Laws and rules are discussed and voted upon in our Senate and House of Representatives.  Choosing our Senators and Representatives is as important a decision for us as is our vote for President.  If you are unhappy with something - contact your Senator or Representative.  Make your voice heard.  Complaining without taking action is like yelling into the wind.  No one is really going to hear you.  Same for regional or local concerns.  Have you attended a meeting in your community? Have you met your Selectperson, Town Counselor, Mayor, or Representative?  Have you volunteered in your community?  Complaining about something, or making negative posts on social media, is not solving anything.  Show up when your elected officials hold a meeting.  State your opinion, vote at local and regional elections.  Honestly I think one of the things that sometimes irritates me the most are the people who complain about things who refuse to get involved in anything that will bring about a solution to what they are complaining about.

Volunteer in your community.  Do something to make your immediate world a better place.  Okay, I know that sounds like a line from the Girl Scout Law, and you're right.  Make the world a better place is part of the Girl Scout Law.  I'm also a Girl Scout leader and I honestly believe that each and every one of us has the ability to make our communities great.  That's one of the reasons I volunteer with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, in my town and at my kids schools.  Step up, you'll be surprised at the new friendships you'll make and the differences you can make in your community and in other's lives.

Show empathy.  It's not that hard.  Being upset that your candidate did not win is not a result of 'everyone gets a trophy for participating' that I keep seeing on Facebook.  The difference this time is that not everyone was online as much in past elections as they were in this one   People are more willing to put their feelings out there, show empathy.  I'm trying to stay neutral here, but phobic, racial, and sexist statements hurt and are frightening.  Many of us know that, some folks just don't.  Using this type of language and actions are just inappropriate and can violate someone's rights.  The rights that we all enjoy and are reminded of today.  It's Veteran's Day and many fought to preserve our rights to free speech and our right to be upset or overjoyed.  Be respectful that my opinion is different than yours.  Show others the respect that you expect others to show you.

Respect and honor that each and everyone one of us is different.  I know I'm mentioning respect twice, but I think it needs to be said twice.  I am honored to consider so many diverse and wonderful people to be my friends.  I am also thrilled that we don't have the same opinions on everything.  Its our differences that make us beautifully unique.  We need to cherish, honor, and respect those differences and not try to destroy them.

Play nice in the sandbox.  Or more accurate - play nice on social media.  Stop bashing each other.  This goes for everyone, not supporters of one candidate over another.  Play nice in the real world as well.  Would you be so quick to make a rude political statement to someone in line at the supermarket as you would on Facebook?  Don't be so quick to judge someone's beliefs or opinions based on their gender or appearance. How I look does not always represent who I voted for or what I believe in.

So to recap:

  • Get involved.  Express your opinion in a positive forum for change.
  • Volunteer.  You can make your community a better place by volunteering and being involved.
  • Show empathy.  Respect others.
  • Respect and honor our unique differences.
  • Play nice. Don't judge others without knowing them.

I'm sure I can come up with more thoughts, but these are enough for now.  I'm saddened by the vitriolic comments I see online and hope we can all honor each others difference to move forward in a positive direction.

Peace, respect, honor, and cherish each other.     gailk