Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election 2016 - Disaster or Opportunity?

Didn't see that coming did you? I have to say on the one hand that I'm rather shocked but on the other, I'd have to have been delusional not to see it coming. I'm talking of course about Donald Trump winning the presidential race in the United States of America last night. Many people in my life, both online and locally, are feeling like the universe is about to close up shop in a really awful display of narcissistic self immolation. I'm only 33 so I certainly don't claim to know everything but having walked in a different world for many years please let me offer some perspective. 

I was raised to be fiscally, politically, religiously and morally "conservative". That view point was accepted pretty much without question until portions of it began to unravel at an astonishing rate in the last few years. If you paint a convincing picture to a child they will believe just about anything until they experience evidence to the contrary. Because most of us live cloistered in a relative social bubble, we don't have experiences that would counter the beliefs programmed in as a children via the segment of society that was our reality. Our lives change but the reality rarely shifts much in nature.

It's about as easy to imagine things you haven't experienced being real as it is to believe that Harry Potter wizard land exists somewhere. However, if you happened to walk into a brick pillar quite by accident and ended up in a magical world, you would have to throw out your previous beliefs immediately or suffer some kind of brain implosion. The insular nature of humanity, us vs them, has kept us, usually through fear, from having experiences that provide a crack in our belief system. A friend sent a story to me the other day about Derek Black, a young man who was raised to be the new head of the White Nationalist movement in America. In the last few years he made a major shift away from his instilled beliefs leading to a public renouncement. While I wasn't raised to be a racist, I was raised to be just as judgemental but in a different way - unambiguous, color blind, sin. Of course the entire liberal ideology and it's consorts were fraught with sin because democrats were hedonists wanting to shake their fist at god and tell him to essentially fuck off. Or so the picture was painted...with a bloody coat hanger.

Derek was sheltered much of his life so when he got out into the real world and met some of the people he had held prejudices against, those prejudices began popping like balloons. Living in Los Angeles for my mid-twenties exposed me to many people I had been taught to judge. What I found was that they accepted me, quirky as I was, way more than anyone I had known in my past world. Around those years I also began listening to several podcasts that gave me a glimpse into social worlds I had never come close to which served to further compromise the foundation of my erroneous beliefs - "this" type of people are evil. The article ended on a conversation between Derek and his father Don, a leader in the white with a capital W, movement. Don is just unable to comprehend the shift in his sons thinking because it seemed so well engrained and makes sense to him. Kind of what it feels like having a conversation with my parents - how did it come to be like this? The key is, we haven't shared the same experiences. 

I give this story of Derek as a parallel to my childhood and the ability to have a radical shift in belief once stepping outside the bubble and can speak with some authority. Having been on a few sides of this humdinger of a fence, I have felt the same things that many are feeling now regarding the fate of the country - but from the other side. When Bill Clinton was running and in office, the steady diet of conservative conversation through Rush Limbaugh and others, made it seem like the world was going to spin off it's axis and be swallowed by a black hole. This of course would be the punishment for all the liberal things "Slick Willy" would legalize like murdering babies in the streets and being forced to go to gay sex clubs (of course I'm exaggerating but only slightly). Even when Barack Obama was running the first time, I was still askance in regards to a liberal agenda and wondered how it was going to harm my future. I still don't trust politicians but my belief in conservatism still was falling apart in 2008 and I was still very anti-liberal. While in California, I accepted government assistance for the first time in my life and began seeing things from yet another perspective.

Maybe it's because most of my adult life was spent hovering around or below the poverty line, but looking back now having opened up more and ceased throwing things out just because of a broad label like "democrat" or "republican", I've found that my life wasn't that much different under any of the Presidents that I can recall. That isn't to say that a president can't make things go down the shitter in lightning speed, but to say that much of the consternation and acrimony is due to rampant fear being generated and amplified by the media. During this election cycle I heard several people posit the idea that Trump was a plant to help give the election to Hillary or that the voting system is rigged in her favor - to which I have to ask, "why isn't she president then?" Is Secretary Clinton squeaky clean? Doubtful but do most people let their imaginations get away with them? Probably. We are so paranoid that we selected someone we didn't feel could be controlled to lead us. Stop and think about that for a minute. 

Our nation needed Bernie Sanders but we got what we deserved instead and while I think it's cause for concern, I don't think it warrants picking out a headstone. We've seen what is out there, the flagrant racism etc, and the only way I see to combat it is to live our truth but as peacefully as possible. I am not saying that we shouldn't stand up for ourselves, but when anger gets involved, it gives the other side something to feed off of like blowing on a fire. Donald Trump as president is four years to say "how can I be the best ambassador of what I feel America is?" It's up to us now. We cannot continue to rely on a few people to care for us or care for us. I have nothing against President Obama, but I want to point out that we have some major things happen and continue to go on under his "watch" like the Flint Water Crisis? Of course we did, because presidents aren't all powerful. Put yourself in their position for a minute and realize what you think being president looks like. It's not pushing buttons on a computer screen with unimpeded power but more like a lot of work and stress. 

This is time for all the millennials nursing their wounds having never had a presidential election go against them, to grow up. Let's all put on our adult pants and accept responsibility for the world we live in. Practice what you preach! What can you do to make a difference? There are a ton of problems that are so entangled I don't know how you would begin to start except doing it the same as untangling a bunch of snarled string. You just start working on a section that interests you and move on to another when that one has been sorted out. If you get some help it can go fairly quickly from a frustrating mess to a nicely ordered bundle. Live the reality you believe every day don't just vote for it once every four years. It's time to get involved with knowledge, love and an open mind. 

Douglas Adams, 
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

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