Well, the U.S. 2016 presidential race is over. Thank goodness. Didn't it seem like it lasted FOR.EV.ER?!
But now we have to work through what is happening between people because of the outcome and the emotions people are experiencing. Some people are happy, some are devastated. Some are disappointed in the whole process. And many people are angry: Hillary Clinton supporters are angry she lost. Donald Trump supporters are angry that Hillary Clinton supporters are so angry. It is a very sad thing to watch.
But one thing that has been absolutely fascinating to me as I have watched my social media feed, is how my friends (a fairly similar group of people) can see things so very differently. I think of them as a snap shot of the nation.
Here are some of the viewpoints I have seen in the last few days:
Does that cover it? Did I miss anything?
The people we disagree with aren't stupid (even though we often think they are). They have a reason for thinking the way they do. But good golly, it is really hard to figure it out sometimes, isn't it!? But the way to healing our nation is to understand each other, not villainize each other.
And let's not forget that our kids are watching.
I am fortunate to have a few friends who contacted me, and wanted to talk about the election in a civilized, respectful, seeking-to-understand kind of way. I really value these people and the example they gave me. Though we disagreed and after we spoke, I thought, "Man, I forgot to say _____!", I understood them better and they gave me valuable things to think about. I am a better person for having spoken with them. We need more people like them. This is the way that we heal our nation.
I want us to take a step back a minute and watch this video. Please think of someone who you might disagree with right now. Let's call him Bob. Try to watch it from Bob's perspective, as well.
I love these steps and think they are applicable even after we have made a decision--they can help us understand others as well. So I am going to use three of them, apply them to our situation, and then add a fourth.
1. I love how the first step is to ask a question. As we try to bring peace back to our nation, let's analyze what happened. What was your most burning issue that led you to vote for your candidate? Was it borders, race relations, international relations, the national debt, gender and sexuality issues... what? More importantly, what was Bob's issue?
2. Gather your information: Go watch the network news that is opposite of your own. Keep an open mind. Is there any credence to it? Ask Bob to explain what he liked so much about his candidate. Don't try to change his mind, try to learn.
3. Apply the information: What assumptions are you making about politicians? What assumptions is Bob making? Is your (and his) interpretation logical or emotional? Are you dismissing any information because of your bias?
When we go through these steps, we have a compassionate eye towards Bob and others we disagree with, and we can see their hurt or fear. We also look closer at ourselves. When we do this, I think we will see a different kind of dialogue on Facebook or Twitter, with protestors, and just life in general.
4. The last strategy is to use empathy. As we figure out how to use it, I really love this video from Brene Brown that explains what exactly empathy is and how to use it. We might not understand exactly how Bob and others feel, but we can sure try.
I think THAT is how good can come from this election. We have been divided for so long, and feelings run so deep, that this is a wonderful opportunity to illustrate to our children how to build bridges. HOW to get along with others when we disagree. HOW to feel empathy for someone who is bitterly disappointed, or FORGIVE someone who contributed to our being bitterly disappointed.
We show them emotional intelligence and resilience. We show compassion and love. This election cycle is a textbook opportunity to walk the talk and show our children how to raise the good, when it would be easy to get discouraged or be bitter. I have confidence that we can do this.
Community Question: What are your best tips for building bridges?
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