I'm Awake Now
Is everyone okay?
A lot has happened in the last few weeks – and I’m not just talking about the turkey coma I’m in or the Brad and Angelina divorce.
The election is over. Finally. But it feels like something else is just beginning. Healthy dialogue? Maybe. The fiery End Of Days? Some people think so.
All I know is that after the election results, I engaged in my first ever Facebook fight and buried myself in bed with a bottle of wine to binge watch “The Crown.”
But I’m still here and so are you.
To be frank, I was devastated by the election. I’m sure that’s no surprise since I do live in “liberal heaven” and work on one of those “crazy TV shows that keeps me from coming home to my family” as my grandmother likes to remind me.
But the root of my disappointment wasn’t because my candidate lost (although that was a huge bummer) but because of what I felt won. Not the political party or even the candidate himself, but the disturbing language and what I felt were the hate-filled messages that peppered his campaign.
I, like many, thought Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency was over when I saw him mock a disabled reporter, and then again when he offended a Gold Star family, and then finally when I listened to him brag about sexually harassing women.
I was wrong. And the depth and breadth of my misunderstanding astounded me.
For a day or two (or five) I was angry. Growing up in North Dakota, I knew so many people who voted for Donald Trump and I could not match up the hate I felt he spouted with the loving, caring people I knew.
My first instinct was to cut ties – to make it them versus me. To escape into my liberal bubble here in California and never look back. Sure, it’s aggressively sunny and kale is in everything, but I thought I could make it work if I had to.
That lasted for about two days until I remembered, despite everything, how much I love those people. Just like, despite everything, they love me.
(At least I hope they do, I’ll have to check in with them after this is published.)
I remembered that those people made me who I am, taught me important things like how to respect people, how to love people, and how to tell the difference between barley and durum.
None of that has changed.
Instead, I knew I had to change. Somewhere between my second and third glass of wine, deep under the covers, I decided I’m done staying silent about what I believe and I’m done tuning out the people I don’t understand.
I’m awake now. Hello.
With that, I’m left thinking about what it means to listen.
Ugh. Listening. Ugh. Engaging people. Ugh. Learning something. Can’t I just go back to my wine and this time maybe throw in some Xanax?
It is so much easier to name call than it is to have a real discussion with someone you disagree with. But I’m determined to fight through the full body hives that cover my body when I engage in any conflict and do it.
Maybe the first step is to be more careful with our words. We must understand why dismissing someone as racist if they have a concern about immigration is not helpful and we must also understand why “he didn’t mean it” is not an acceptable excuse when it comes to, what I feel, are the dangerous things our President-elect has said.
Lately it seems we are so mired in our positions, so distracted by planting our flags, that it’s impossible to hear someone else’s point of view. And I get it. Listening is scary. It makes you vulnerable.
Listening might enrage you. It might break your heart. And most terrifying of all, it might even change your mind.
Judging by his hair-trigger reactions on Twitter, it seems our President-elect might struggle with listening. Many people feel Hillary Clinton wasn’t listening and it cost her the election.
The honest truth is, I still don’t understand what happened. I still struggle with it everyday. I still would just rather hunker down and watch British costume dramas than I would deal with the current political climate.
But I’m working on having an open heart that’s ready to listen.
I hope the President-elect can do the same. I hope he can turn off Twitter and really hear people, even if he doesn’t agree.
I’m trying and I hope he does too.
This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum. You can find them (and me) here.