I was on the edge of my seat refreshing the Google.com online poll page throughout election night. I was shocked to see Donald J. Trump win state after state in the Electoral vote.
At around 1am, I realized that Trump would become the President of the United States. I was in denial. This is a bad dream, I told myself. It couldn’t be.
Then I became angry. WTF? How could our great country elect Trump to the highest seat in the nation? And how could Nate Silver’s election forecast be so wrong? If only the DNC had chosen Bernie Sanders, everything would have been okay.
The next few days, my Facebook and Twitter feeds blew up with anger and vitriol fueled by the divisive election results. People are currently petitioning the members of the electoral college to pay a fine and to vote for Hillary Clinton instead.
During all of this, I wondered, “What can I do to make this a better place?” For me, it wasn’t about heading to downtown L.A. and protesting the vote. To be honest, I don’t feel it will make a difference in the long run.
So what does make a difference? It is about the interactions with the people around us. Our immediate circle of influence, and specifically, the community we live in. So, I began smiling at strangers in line at Trader Joe’s and starting conversations at the dog park.
The election results are a shock, yet it’s a great way to begin discussions about racism, sexism, and economic fairness.
Additionally, I’m seeing that Trump is backing down from some of his extreme positions (i.e. Not repealing Obamacare.)
I realize that this election result is a strange gift.
The gift is our wake up call to connect with each other. To build community. To learn that regardless of color, sex, etc. we are still all human beings.
To realize that our commonalities are significantly greater than our differences.
I don’t believe that every person who voted for Trump is a racist or sexist. There’s a lot of people in the Rust Belt states hurting economically. They had hopes that Trump would help them. And who knows, he just might. After all, the Dow Jones approached peak levels after he won.
Atticus Finch, the fictional lawyer in To Kill A Mockingbird, told his young daughter who liked to fight, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
When I think about Trump, I see an imperfect 70 year old white man who is trying his best. When he tweeted out a photo of himself eating a taco bowl, saying “I love Hispanics!”, he was trying to connect with the Latino community. Although it may have failed, he was trying.
What are you trying to do?
After spending years in a Nazi concentration camp, Viktor E. Frankl wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
No matter the result of any event, we always have the power to choose our attitude.
Now, I invite you to choose yours.