A Year and a Half in…

My beloved Canadian Uncle Peter sent me an article after the recent election of Doug Ford, a man who is made in the image of President Trump. His comment was,”Now we must hold on to the saddle during unfamiliar and unsettled times.” This was my response:

If I have learned anything over the last year and a half, it is that I was living in a liberal bubble. With the exception of one or two people in my life, we all thought alike and thought the rest of the world did too.

The shock of Trump’s election and the continuing circus that followed caused me to take a hard look at myself and to try to understand how this could have happened in the “land of the free.”

I am beginning to understand, but I had to work through a lot of anger and sadness before I could.  And I had to learn to have conversations with those who disagreed with me, not to change their minds, but to understand why their experience of life in the US brought them to vote the way they did.

This is hard stuff.  It has unearthed lots of prejudice, sexism and racism. It’s ugly.  But I believe this is part of a process the nation must face to move on.  Turns out once those things are “out” and understood in civil conversation, there is hope that change will come.

I am rereading THE BOOK OF JOY, which is the story of the week long meeting between the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu. These are two of my heroes. They have endured more than the average person and yet have found joy in the midst of it all.

One of the stories told is of Bishop Tutu getting cut off in Miami traffic. Now if you’ve ever driven there, you know how crazy it is.  When it happened he remained calm and when asked why, he said he was thinking about the other driver and wondering if they were on the way to the hospital for the birth of a child or to be there for death of a loved one. That would not have been my reaction… at least not until I had gone through the last year and a half of introspection.

Soon after the election of Trump, I met a Canadian man who said that he thought this election might have been a “good” thing.  I was horrified.  Turns out, if we survive his special brand of crazy, we may come out the other end with a much better understanding of the many layers that make us Americans.  And maybe, just maybe, we will learn to listen a little better and to take the responsibility of voting and governing more seriously.  We’ll see.  I suspect it will be the younger generation who will make that happen. I choose to be hopeful.

In our travels abroad we have met people from the UK and the EU who are dealing with the same thing.  They all point to Canada as the nation that is “nice.”  I hope Canada can work through this in a more civil way than we have.

Good luck, Uncle Peter, it’s a hell of a ride.