Like many, my life changed significantly on November 8, 2016. Also like many, I went to bed that night with a sinking feeling in my stomach – the aftereffect of an election result I never saw coming. That feeling had little to do with my political sensibilities, and much more to do with my human side.
I accepted long ago, and well appreciate, that roughly one-half of the people reading this hold beliefs in matters of economics, militarism, religion, and education that are contrary to mine. That there is such a balance of opposing opinions in this land, and that it ebbs and flows the way it has for a couple hundred years, is testament to the integrity of the Greek foundation of our society.
Still, on November 9, I woke feeling a little dazed, a bit sad and somewhat of a state of shock. Through the next couple of days, I began asking questions of myself, and answering them honestly – and being honest with myself has ever been my strong suit. With each question I asked myself, and with each subsequent answer, I could feel my values taking deeper root, and solidifying in a way they had not previously flexed.
The two primary questions I asked myself were these…
- What is truly important to me today…?
- What was important to me yesterday, that is no longer important today…?
It is truly illuminating, what can be learned from answering those questions.
I asked myself, and continue to ask myself other questions derivative of the two questions above, but those two are the heart of the thing.
The answers to the first question were few – less than 10, and I wrote them down so I can look at them each morning as I drink coffee and build my day. I have been resolute in constructing each day since November 9, around the answers to that question.
The answers to the second question were more numerous, and I’m still writing them down, as that list of answers still grows. Identifying what was important yesterday, but no longer is, is easy. Eliminating those behaviors from my day-to-day actions, well, that’s an ongoing challenge, but one I am also committed to.
As I watch the behaviors of the man we elected, and who is now the 45th President of The United States Of America, I have a steady reminder of how I wish not to conduct myself, how I wish not to be seen, and how I wish not to be heard. I expected that from day 1. Politics, positions, and platforms notwithstanding, it’s my opinion that a man representing 300-million people should conduct himself with a little more decorum – a little more professionally, as most of his predecessors have.
What I didn’t expect, and what most reading this might find offensive or even insulting, is that so many of the behaviors from people on both sides of this election, have affected me more than I would have imagined just 6 months ago. That is, the behaviors of my teammates, as well as the opposition are eating away at my good moods just as much as the behaviors of the man on Pennsylvania Avenue. I have never been so disappointed in so many people all at once.
Before one suggests that I’m looking to live in a world of rainbows and unicorns when it comes to the murky waters of politics, I am not. I’m in favor of argument, disagreement, satire, lampooning and even insults when the time is right, when it is deserved and when it is tactfully done. However, I don’t recognize what I’ve seen unfolding in recent months – it’s as though somebody spiked the national water cooler, and we’ve left our sober brains back at our cubicles.
I’ve found at least one bright spot in all of this is, thought it is small relative to the entirety of the problem, but it is a bright spot none the less. I have never worked so hard, nor been so committed to improving my behaviors when it comes to discussion. In that sense, I’ve never been less ashamed to be myself or to be 100% honest while discussing politics, and I have become a committed listener! For a Jewish kid raised on demerit slips, with a lifetime social anxiety disorder, that’s saying something.
We may not all agree on military, economic or education policy, but we should be able to discuss it. I hope at some point we’ll agree on how we should conduct ourselves as a people when we disagree, though I see few signs among my social contemporaries that this will happen anytime soon. I look to my daughter’s generation though – I hear her speak, I see how she interacts with her friends, and I see hope for more intelligent discussion down the road. Still, I hope folks my own age and older can settle down just a smidge – speak a little more intelligently, and listen a little more attentively.
I think of that old locker room adage, you know, grab ‘em by the decorum… Jhciacb
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