The current political environment has me ping-ponging around trying to figure out how not to feel this low-level dread about the repercussions of what President Trump is trying to push onto our country. I've been listening to NPR, reading tweets and blog posts, articles. I came across a post on Running off the Reeses where she linked to an article about a women who carried a White Women Elected Trump sign at one of the the Womens' Marches.
While I agree that white women voted in greater proportion for Trump than they did for McCain or Romney in 2008 and 2012, there were things in that article that I think are not leading us to productive conclusions. She wrote about owning this fact. That, we as white women need to own that we elected Trump. I'm white and I'm a woman. But I can't own the fact that there are groups of Americans that seemed to believe in Trump's platform. This isn't a gender thing. This goes beyond gender. We have a polarized situation between large metropolitan areas and more rural, suburban areas. If you look at the map, you don't say: "Well, in California there must not have been any white women." Same goes for Massachusetts, Oregon, Illinois, etc.
It's great that she made people think, but it doesn't get us to the root of our problem: we have a divide where many of our core values are not lining up,* and we have become increasingly resistant to consider viewpoints that differ from our own.
Do these groups of people believe that banning Muslims is what is good for the country to keep us safe? Is this how they rationalize not being outraged by this latest executive order? (the alternative is that they are religious bigots and I'm trying to err on giving the benefit of the doubt here).
Do they seek out information or opinions about the other side of these actions? And I'm not talking about seeking out someone flaming the president. I have no desire to seek out an opposing opinion that is just a flame war intended to rile me up. I'm talking about civilized discourse, usually involving facts (not "alternative facts").
Is there some satisfaction with standing behind one's initial assessment as the true/righteous one vs seeking out another view point? Humans don't like to be wrong or even admit they made a mistake. I get that. But that doesn't make it a behavior to cultivate and propagate.
I think Obama alluded to this in several of his last speeches/press releases. That we need to rediscover our ability to really listen to the other side. Rediscover a passion for seeking information, on both sides.
The ability to admit that what you may have thought/felt before is no longer "right" with you is such an underrated quality. I know that our current President has a very hard time with that. The ability to put your ego on the shelf for a few minutes is a leadership quality we need. But I would hazard to say that these are things we as American citizens desperately need to cultivate. The man we elected is the personification of our recent behavior. Listening to each other and having genuine curiosity is the only way we're going to be able to find common ground and understand each other in a way that is productive.
Who knows, maybe at the end of this all we will have been forced to get to the point where we listen to each other again. I can only hope.
*that's not to say that we don't agree on basic principles of being a good human being, because I think we do.