Trying to digest the last week, the election, and the aftermath
This is for no one but myself. There are some things I need to think through and sometimes writing helps me do that. I rarely do it, because I'm an engineer and, frankly, numbers are my thing. Letters, words, they always seem so grey (gray?) to me. Maybe that's why I feel like I need them right now. If you'd like to read my thoughts, please do.
This world, this country, this election, there's nothing clear cut to me. I'm a middle-class, Christian, well-schooled, white male living in one of the most progressive cities in the country. Notice I didn't say educated. I have a fair number of family and friends living the vast red sea making up the majority of land in the country. The way I see it, land is red and population is blue. The Electoral College sees red and blue states, but a county map shows something else entirely.
Tuesday night, I felt confused. When I saw Florida going red, I thought it was only delaying the inevitable. Facebook had already informed me Hillary was going to win. Sure, I had watched the news and read BBC. They didn't seem to lead me in a different direction. It was a weird feeling wanting states to turn blue. My voting record will show I rarely vote for the eventual winner. (Hint: I voted for Bill Bryant, Rob McKenna, and Dino Rossi in the last three WA Governor races.)
I took a long time trying to decide who to vote for, as I hope everyone did. At the end of the day, social, fiscal, healthcare, education, foreign policy, immigration, etc. didn't really matter because I didn't want President-Elect Trump to be the face of our country. I believe he fear-mongered. He also spoke words I found disgusting and was accused of unspeakable acts. Yes, I understand the word accused. But someone doesn't have to be proven guilty in a courtroom for me to develop an opinion. The volume was enough for me.
Briefly, while voting issues are at hand, no issue is more important to me than education. There is nothing I'd rather pay taxes for. Having a strong education system is vital to the future of our country and it must include technical programs. I believe this, teachers and farmers are the backbone of our country. Without them, we'd all be less intelligent and hungry.
Early Tuesday morning, I finally completed my ballot and dropped it off. Tuesday night I was in a house surrounded, to my knowledge, of pro-Clinton and/or anti-Trump voters. There was a vast range of emotions from people as the evening wore on and the unanticipated turned to inevitable. Red caught blue in Pennsylvania and that was that. Like the Dow Futures, our mood plummeted amid the unkown of what comes next. There were people who needed to be alone, those that needed to be with people, and those who were just confused. How did more typical republican voters not have their decision swayed? How did more democrats not turn out. How did half of our country not vote with the oppressed and marginalized in mind?
Social media and geography create bubbles. To anybody believing the entire west coast is a blue, liberal, weed-smoking happy place and we should secede from the union, know that eastern half of Washington, Oregon, and California (the land I mentioned earlier) are not. In fact, they talk about seceding from us (at least Washington and Oregon) just as much. The fact of the matter is, we need each other.
Late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning I started seeing the statuses. Statuses full of fear. People who are scared. Friends who are afraid for what their lives will look like with President-Elect Trump in office. Friends that are women. Friends that are gay. Friends that are minorities. I was at a large presentation that morning, and one of the speakers mentioned he turned the TV off the night before when his kids asked if they were going to have to move. He's Pakistani-American. I wanted to cry. I've tried to understand, and I want to understand, but I can't. My demographic categories will never let me fully comprehend what circumstances you have, and will, have to endure. Please don't let that stop you from telling me. This is an open invite to inform me. And I will do better to reach out.
At some point, the sadness I was feeling turned back to confusion, due to the number of times I saw some form of the following statement: "I didn't realize half of our country was racist/sexist/homophobic. I'm embarrassed of our country." Sixty million citizens exercising their right to vote instantly turned from friends and family to white-supremacists. I had hoped the moods would rebound similar to how stocks around the world had throughout the day Tuesday. They didn't, and they haven't. The pain and fear people are feeling is real.
Back to the bubble I mentioned earlier. I'm not from small-town USA. I do have friends and family that are. I have friends and family that voted for President-Elect Trump. Yes, some of those that voted for President-Elect Trump are the worst kind of people. Those that think they are better than others because of their skin color, their religion, and/or their gender. Please know, some, I pray most, are not. They are people that are also afraid. Afraid because industry, and in turn jobs, are leaving their small towns. A friend of mine recently posted this article, which articulates this mindset far better than I can. Please read it. While you're at it, read the article he links to near the end about society's uncomfortable questions. If you didn't read the article, that's okay. This is the number one point I took away from it:
"They're getting the shit kicked out of them. I know, I was there. Step outside of the city, and the suicide rate among young people fucking doubles. The recession pounded rural communities, but all the recovery went to the cities. The rate of new businesses opening in rural areas has utterly collapsed."
Call it selfish, but when people believe they won't be able to pay their mortgage or feed their kids, they vote for who they believe is their best bet. At some point in time, rural went red and urban went blue.
Sure, there are other factors involved in this whole ordeal. I'm not going there. I don't want to get into an argument about fiscal impacts and social rights. If you want to have a conversation about policy, I'd be happy to do so privately. I do want people to know and understand there is almost always more to the story.
Violence is not okay. Hate is not okay. Isolation of ideas is not okay. The only way for our country to come together is to listen and to love. To be quick to hug and slow to judge. To those who vast a vote for President-Elect Trump because you were able to look past the hateful rhetoric, stand up for those around you that are afraid and fear what happens next. Make sure President-Elect Trump is fully aware you will not stand for oppression. As white males, we should all take this responsibility on. While we are not guilty for the sins of past generations, we must be proactive in remedying the wounds which remain.
I was in a lot of locker rooms growing up. I was the president of my fraternity in college. I've heard more sexist, racist, and homophobic remarks than I care to admit. I've said some of them. Men, boys, say some really stupid shit when they believe they are alone and it's what their compatriots want to hear. I do not excuse any of the words President-Elect Trump said. I don't not excuse any of the thoughtless words I've said in the past. And I do not excuse the many words which you have all said at some point to belittle someone. It might not have been about their race, or their gender, or their sexual orientation, but the single worst trait I've observed about humans is our ability to prop ourselves up at someone else's expense. They're tall, they're fat, they have a gap in their teeth, they have acne, they're socially awkward, they're a prude, they're a frat boy, they're a nerd, they're a jock, they're slow, they're poor, they're rich. Those are the worst of what I've heard. Most of them sound mundane and, relatively, they are. But they still hurt. We can all do better.
There is a song I had been listening to a fair amount prior to the election and has pretty much been on repeat since. Eric Church, Kill A Word.
This morning, I rode the bus to work and saw the start of a beautiful sunrise. When I turned right out of the elevator into my office, I stopped. I stared. Mt Rainier was out in all of her glory with an explosion of red, yellow and orange emanating over the mountains. I walk into our conference room, understandably coined the "Rainier Room," and continued to stare. In that moment, I remembered there is far more beauty in this world, in our country, if we take the time to observe it. Despite our differences, we have more in common than we may ever realize.
Dear God, my prayer is this. Heal the hurting and piece back together the broken. Lift up those who are down and push the most unexpected voices to sing out for the marginalize and the oppressed. Open the ears of all and allow them to listen and hear the ways in which all people are hurting. Make all of our similarities stand out and show us how to love one another, while also letting people know that having differences is okay. It's part of what makes our country amazing. Kill a word. "Turn 'lies' and 'hate' to 'love' and 'truth'" -Amen.
I used "President-Elect Trump" and "our country" multiple times and very deliberately. This is OUR country. And regardless of who you cast your vote for, we must rally together to push our country forward. Hear me. This is not an endorsement of hate. It is the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, for a man recently fairly elected to our highest office of government. Hear me again. I will not stand for hate. If you need a voice, let me know how I can help.