Thursday, November 10

What Happened?

So let's say you are on an airplane and you are not really a big fan of air travel--maybe you've had one too many bad flight experiences in the past. You look outside the window and notice what appears to be smoke coming from one of the engines. You hit the call button and summon over the flight attendant and he or she says I'll let the captain know. Over the loudspeakers you hear:  "Ladies and Gentleman, this is your captain speaking, the smoke that you are seeing is not a serious problem. We'll be at our destination shortly. Please sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the flight. Thank you." And yet, you see more smoke and so does everyone around you.

Now, let's rewind the tape and try again. You summon the flight attendant and this time when they tell the captain what you've seen, the captain comes on and says "This is the captain speaking, our plane is on fire and I will need to emergency land it immediately. Make sure your seat belts are really tight, tuck yourselves down, and I promise you I'll make sure you get out of this alive because I am the best, most skilled  pilot ever!"

Which pilot would you like at the helm in that harrowing example? Probably the one who has a plan and promises you will not die, right? Now imagine that this plane is the USA and the pilots were Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and the passengers are the American public. That may sound extreme, but let me continue.

This election happened in what feels like very tumultuous times both here and abroad. Many people are uncertain of the future for themselves and their families. Wanting to latch on to a sense of security and someone who made them believe they'll be safe seems to be the most important factor of how this election went. Being plain spoken versus  high-minded or even gracious was not a factor, but wanting the pain a large group of voters seem to be experiencing and to be heard and feeling that political insiders had rigged things against us certainly were. Perhaps it was the threat of more change was too much for those of us who are trying to keep our heads above water or fearful of people whose culture and values differ from the majority culture. Maybe we have become too isolated and insulated from others thanks to our technologies and class separations. All I know is we could be asking why we are so polarized for a long time to come and fear what will happen next in the uncertainty that accompanies that understanding.

One thing that I have concluded is that while a number of people believe that the government does not work for them, they chose a leader who believes he, as the head of the government, can make us great again. I don't know how to reconcile this incongruity, but I would ask all of us to recall that America's greatness or lack thereof is in the thoughts and actions of all of us. If greatness is the goal, we have to be responsible and act in a way that lifts us up as a nation. Maybe our own insecurity in acting to be better people is what happened? In which case, "We, the People", are both the problem and the cure. 

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