By: Jaina Kelly
During the 2016 presidential campaigns, I was an avid roller coaster rider, partaking in the ludicrous twists and turns of America’s most popular reality show—oops, I mean election. I tuned in, tweeted, yelled, cried, ranted, and made every effort to process the parade of antics splayed across media. I have meditated, prayed, stared at the stars and the moon, and asked, above all: why?!
While wary of her history of war involvement and corporate ties, I still perceived Hillary Clinton’s politics as the usual, but preferable, bullshit. Yes, she was spinning more of the same bullshit that had lingered during Obama’s eight years, yet I accepted her questionable participation in the Middle East over Donald Trump’s degrading and fear mongering rhetoric. Why? Because where she was bridging a gap from Obama, he was proposing a wrecking ball style destruction of America’s values. At least she was not perpetuating misguided, harmful stereotypes about minorities and carrying a history of assaulting women. At least she was not going to instate a fully pro-life senate and threaten the foundation of women’s reproductive autonomy. At least.
Cue the Darth Vader music, then, as all of Donald’s bigoted scandals still couldn’t keep him from the White House. So how did this happen? How did we end up watching a collection of homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic white men parade into the White House? (If you haven’t seen the list of Donald’s appointed sidekicks, I recommend you sit down beforehand).
In hindsight, it’s becoming increasingly clear why Clinton lost. Media critics have echoed the idea that the minute you made Trump a joke, you let him win. They say the white middle class is sick and tired of so-called ‘elitist’ politics and they saw Donald as some renegade saviour. They also go on to complain that if only the DNC had selected Bernie Sanders, they would have stood a fighting chance. The scary thing is, no matter how much we deliberate on the reasons why…Trump is still going to be president, and will be for the next four years.
Now, we stand in the wake of a bipartisan tsunami and must begin to process the shift of American power. The American public has been more divided during this election than it has for ages. With this shift comes a paradigm revolution. Gun control disappears on the horizon, women shudder at a pro-life senate, and immigrants have a newly tangible fear eating at their safety. Yes, a paradigm shift that seems opposite the Obama administration.
So what happens now? No matter who sits at the head of the table, there is an entire country, an entire world that feels more divided than ever. If we can’t mend the jagged split between ‘right’ and ‘left’, how can we live peacefully? These extremities of separation are detrimental. Forget about personal clashes during the campaign – the media is exploding with hate crime reports fueled by the Republican win.
The division of ‘right’ and ‘left’ is not so easily squelched by Donald’s win. People have become so solidified and righteous in their views, that they cannot budge an inch to consider the validity of anyone else’s claims. This inability to transcend difference in opinion is a societal disease. On one side, the right-wingers steep their claims in rhetoric in racial resentment, by framing minorities as the source of economic disparity and social unrest. Fear-mongering claims reminiscent of Hitler’s charismatic bigotry have become a springboard for people who brazenly discard scientific fact in exchange for half-truths. Wildly inaccurate suspicions, rather than research-based opinions, have become acceptable. The other side is left unable to tolerate what they perceive as overall offensive, poisonous diatribe.
Regardless of who is ‘right’, we suffer the consequences of being unable to meet in the middle. No matter how many Facebook arguments we have, no matter how many hate crimes people commit, our human connection remains. Our humanity gives us many more reasons to celebrate similarity than difference.
Eckhart Tolle, a favourite spiritual teacher of mine, advises that identification with our opinions is behaviour of the Ego. If we always function solely on the Ego’s drive, we are left with volatile emotions of superiority and inferiority. In other words, the more we believe that we are right and others are wrong, we exacerbate conflict. It blocks off any space for common ground; it keeps us deluded in thinking we are above someone else when indeed, as humans and beings of this earth, we are born and die equal.
I was no saint during this election, becoming infuriated by the tirade of negativity and feeling staunchly disgusted by those who disagreed with me. Now, I see, that this did nothing but cultivate feelings of resentment and anger. This anger is kept tightly inside and ultimately affects me with its debilitating intensity. Now is the time to stop drawing lines in the sand. Reaching out, without opinion to cling to, may be the key to solving our human crisis. We have reached alarmingly low levels of compassion with each other, and this must be rectified, if the world is going to cope with President Donald Trump. After all, if fear of difference is what got him to the top, then it seems only natural to conquer our fear in order to unite in peace.