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As I experienced the unleashing of so many pent up feelings these past two days I’ve tried to label them and then unpack their meaning a bit; not just what they mean to me but perhaps what they mean more broadly. First is this incredible sense of relief…the removal of some dark ominous force that no longer weighs on me. I had no idea just how heavy it was until it was removed. Literally everything almost immediately felt different and more hopeful. And of course the essence of that weight was fear. I truly feared for my country, my children and the future of the planet if the Celebrity Apprentice President’s show was renewed for another 4 years. Those fears were grounded in my experience of the past 4 years of behavior that at first was shocking and in the end really not that surprising.
Over the years I’ve witnessed and sometimes worked for people who knew how to control the levers of power by using fear to intimidate and motivate people. It’s a dark, oppressive, toxic and effective way to achieve outcomes. At its core it pits people against one another by using whatever is meaningful to them as a weapon to control their behavior… Worried about keeping your job? Worried about your promotion? “Trust no one… Dog eat dog…Every “man” for himself, the world’s a dangerous place…” are their mantras. They typically have explosive tempers that foster a fearful climate and are masters of manipulation knowing which buttons to push to create rivalries and tension within their own organizations. Being on their good side is to experience life, alternatively when not, a form of death. To be subjected to this is to experience a form of hell on earth…and in many ways describes the way we all have been living for the past 4 years.
We have been barraged with information and alternative facts encouraging and inciting us to view those with different ideas, skin colors, ethnicities, faiths and cultures as threats, as enemies to be crushed and dominated. In this unholy war, cruelty is strength and compassion is weakness. The outrage machines of social media and cable news spew out fuel 24/7 and rake in the clicks and views that translate to “Shareholder Value” feeding this inferno of hate and fear. Our soon to be Ex-President was and continues to be a master at exploiting our divisions, using the tools of media as the grand master of these dark arts that he truly is…and he will not stop.
So what to do? First, we can choose to stop the noise. Do we continue to plug into our sources of fuel for more outrage or do we choose to at least take a break from them. A President could not be ignored but a private citizen can be. More importantly, can we reach across this seemingly irreconcilable divide and just talk to one another about the things that matter most to us? How we want to live and work day to day providing for ourselves and our families, looking to ensure a more peaceful and hopeful future for them and for ourselves? Can we ask about the things that make us fearful and can we start to find small ways to defuse and re-channel an angry response to one that begins with starting to understand one another better? Don’t we all want the same things for those we love and for ourselves?
Respect and tolerance of our differences allow us to begin to find solutions to problems that otherwise fuel the fires of our fears. We all want to breathe clean air and drink clean fresh water and we all want to protect the environment that provides us with both; at the same time, we all want to know that we can do so without causing damage to our abilities to earn a livelihood and provide for our families. Every big question that we face along this great divide is complicated…Is it possible to be both pro-life and pro-choice? Can we have religious freedom for ourselves without imposing our beliefs on non-believers? Can we agree on ways to protect one another’s health and safety by agreeing on standards of behavior that backed by science and data in fact make us all feel more free? Can we love America unreservedly and at the same time acknowledge its flaws and at times shameful past honestly and do what we must to be better and conform to our ideals? Can insure equal opportunities but not attempt to dictate equal outcomes for all? The solutions are out there and as long as we can agree on what truly matters to us, we can start to find ways to take responsible steps on the path to reaching a shared goal. After all, “All we are saying, is give peace a chance”.