The Next Steps

12 Nov

I’ll be honest: I’m sick of election reaction posts.

…But I haven’t shared my thoughts yet, and this is my blog, so here’s another one.

I’ll skip the immediate reactions of election night and my thoughts on that. We were all there, and if your political leanings align with mine, then we’ve probably all seen those same thoughts a million times on our Facebook news feed.

But one particular post stood out to me, from one of only two friends who I know voted for Trump. I won’t share this person’s name, but here was the post:

“We did it! I’m proud to say I voted for Trump. The bottom line has always been about the issues we face as a nation. Time to unify as a country and get things done!”

That one gave me pause. Because, well, let’s be honest: If Hillary had won, my news feed would have been filled with that sentiment. And because Facebook really only shows us people we like and agree with, I wouldn’t have known the frustration and disappointment of the other side.

But the reality is that, as Hillary supporters understand, it’s going to be very, very difficult to unify as a country and get things done. And I don’t know if we would have understood that as well if we had seen our candidate chosen.

It would have been easy to forget that half of the country voted the other way, many of them passionately so. It would have been easy to dismiss Trump supporters, saying “they’ll learn to accept it.” It would have been easy to expect great things from Hillary.

Most of all, it would have been easy to settle back in to our everyday lives, and it would have been easy to only get political once every four years by posting a selfie with an “I Voted Today” sticker and saying “#ElectionDay! Everyone go vote!”

Our country is more divided than most of us like to acknowledge. Because, obviously, we don’t want to discuss politics with the people with whom we disagree. I can’t advise everyone to have those tough political conversations with family and friends, because it’s hard to justify ruining a relationship because of politics. If that’s a path you want to take, more power to you.

Instead, my suggestion is what occurred to me the day after the election. I was on a bus in Chicago, and was thoroughly depressed. Everyone was more or less silent (whether because of the election or because it was public transit in Chicago, I couldn’t tell). But at one point, the bus driver stopped a little too quickly for the comfort of one woman – and she started yelling horrible things at him. Nothing was racial or political, but it was still pretty awful. She got off at the same stop as me shortly thereafter and continued yelling at him as she disembarked.

Her rant insulted me on a personal level. I felt like I was in mourning, and I knew I couldn’t be alone in this feeling. When someone is in mourning, you don’t scream at strangers around them. As I got off the bus, I turned to the bus driver, met his eyes, and quietly said, “Sorry.”

I made it my personal mission that day to just be as humanly nice as I could to everyone. I challenge everyone else to do the same. Supporters of candidates other than Trump are going through a very difficult adjustment period, and some friendly support could go a long way to building the bridges we so desperately need. It’s certainly helped my attitude, and I hope it helps yours too.

And, if you’re worried about America’s future beyond the people you interact with, do something about it.

Concerned that Trump is appointing a climate-change skeptic to head the EPA? Get involved. Donate to (or get involved with) the National Resources Defense Council, or World Wildlife Fund, or the Sierra Club, or the National Wildlife Federation. Volunteer with local groups to pick up trash on beaches. Make a commitment to bring cloth grocery bags to the store, or to rely on a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic ones.

Concerned about America’s relations with Mexico and Mexican-Americans? Donate to (or get involved with) the National Council of La Raza, or the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Volunteer at your local centers to help in English classrooms or provide other useful services. Make a commitment to learn more about your neighbors, or learn a bit of Spanish.

Concerned about America’s treatment of Muslims and refugees? Donate to (or get involved with) the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, or the American Refugee Committee, or the US Council of Muslim Organizations, or the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Volunteer with local interfaith organizations to learn how to build connections between Muslims and people of other faiths. Make a commitment to learn about the needs of refugees and what you can do to supply them.

(Important note – I just found all of these organizations with a few quick Google searches; so I can’t specifically endorse them/their work. Do your research, and you can likely find many more incredibly worthy organizations to get involved with.)

The list could go on and on. There are amazing organizations out there supporting LBGT rights, women’s rights, world peace, social justice, and every other cause on earth. It’s time to stop telling yourself you’ll get involved someday. The time to become an active American citizen is now.

And, most importantly, don’t forget your motivating force – be a fellow decent human being.

Leave a comment with your suggestions or plans for becoming involved, or ways to be nice to each other!

Update: Here is a helpful list of nonprofits, and links to get involved with all.

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2 Responses to “The Next Steps”

  1. steve71358 November 12, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    I think that what stunned me even more than the election results, was the fact that our new president was elected by only 25% of the voting public. The other candidate received approximately 25%, and the other 50% chose not to be involved. The phrase that kept going through my mind was “if not THIS election, then when?”

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