Do Not Despair: You Are Your Own Best Hope

Updated August 20, 2017

I am deeply distressed by the vitriol you recklessly hurl at one another in your impassioned political disparity. Insults and cruelty do not constitute civilized conversation. Gratuitous malice is an unnecessary and destructive device in discourse. Freedom of speech provides the right to express opinions, but civilized behavior dictates that expression should be tempered with compassion for the opposition.

Though, I understand your fervor.

Congratulations to those who support President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican majority House and Senate. I imagine you’re looking forward to change. I trust that change does not extend to the abolishment of hard-won civil rights, religious freedom, advancement of science and math, protection of our planet and its resources, or to our brothers and sisters hoping to, legally, build new lives for themselves and their families in our gloriously diverse United States. I hope against hope that you are not aligned with the worst of the worst we saw at his rallies.

Though, I understand you may have felt marginalized and thus, now vindicated.

I offer my condolences to the supporters of Hillary Clinton. Take some time, but not too much, to grieve and mourn your loss. Work through your disappointment and find a constructive path forward. I trust you'll eventually recognize that the spectrum of Trump supporters ranges from devoted disciples to “anyone but Clinton” and that casting a vote for Trump was not necessarily fueled by bigotry and hatred.

Though, I understand your disgust and disillusionment.

Should we invest effort in employing sincere empathy to opposing political views while upholding the constitution, I believe we’ll find there is fertile common ground.

The historic election of Trump is a message. Clinton supporters may despise the personification of that message. You may find the man a manipulative, narcissistic, contentious, pugilistic, bigoted, misogynistic sociopath. Yet, the message is clear. There is a percentage of the disenfranchised that would prefer to roll the dice on the unproven devil they don’t know than to continue the status quo.

That is a powerful message. Perhaps Clinton supporters should take heed.

How to bridge this untenable divide? Camp out on that common ground and make this work. Despite our flaws we are the greatest democracy in the world. That world is looking to us to lead the lesson in reconciliation. Fundamentally, there is no other choice for us.

Both sides must roll up our sleeves, dig in, and diligently continue to strive together for successful compromise.

Face, and truly see, your neighbor whose politics you oppose. Learn why they’re upset or elated. Does their concern or celebration in any way at all coincide with yours? When it does, seize that commonality and nurture it. Are you still at odds? Then find purposeful and productive agency for your voice. Have the hard conversations with grace and generosity of spirit. Listen. Volunteer for, and financially support if possible, the organizations that promote and protect what you value. Communicate with your elected officials. Demand that they guide the new President with their knowledge, wisdom, and diplomacy. Trump will need to be surrounded by advisers with intelligence, compassion, experience, and strength of character.

On January 20, 2017 Trump will swear to uphold our constitution and serve in the most difficult job on the planet.

With no experience, whatsoever.

It is highly probable that he does not yet fully fathom exactly what that job entails. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He will need us more than we need him. We the people are the UNITED States of America.

I am fully aware this smacks of foolish, sentimental idealism. I am fully aware that the issues dividing the country are myriad and complex. Yet, I still believe ours is the land of hope and dreams. And, I am fully aware that without hope, we have nothing.