An Open Letter to My Own Children RE: Election 2016
The angst that has been felt over the last days and weeks is palatable. I’ve felt some myself, but not necessarily due to election results. Rather, the despair I’ve seen and heard from those around me has been painful to listen to and to watch. I want to share some thoughts I’ve got about this election. (Keep in mind in a former life I took my political science degree and worked for a congressman in Los Angeles, and interned on Capital Hill. It was those experiences that caused me to change professions and try to contribute in some other way.)
Take a deep breath and hear me out on a few things.
1) A bad day in America is better than a good day in 90 percent of the world. Please be grateful for what you have. I’m not asking you to ignore problems, in fact you should try to institute change where it is needed. I’m asking that you try to keep our/your problems in perspective. One of the biggest mistakes we make as Americans is our feelings of entitlement. We assume we are entitled to a good life, to a happy life. We are not. We disparage our blessings by feeling and acting entitled to them.
2) Trust the Constitution. We have a long-lasting-time-tested government. The foresight the Framers had is nothing short of miraculous. Three branches of government, decentralized power. We have survived a lot. Don’t make the mistake of lowering the microscope in to this one moment. Take a minute looking back. A civil war tore our country apart. We survived. Our borders were attacked by a foreign power attempting world domination. We fought back and survived. We elected a Hollywood actor President. We survived. We had a President with a paranoid personality, who ended up resigning, giving us a NON-elected president. We survived. Terrorists struck us and killed thousands. We survived. History says we will survive this too.
3) Wisdom rarely comes from anything besides mistakes. If you deeply feel the problems and distress of the last 18 months you need to respond. Don’t compound things and merely criticize . Ask yourself what you’ve learned. Then take that learning and attempt to apply it moving forward. Doing that is a good definition of wisdom.
4) Before you criticize, spend enough time to put the view(s) you oppose in their Best Possible Light. This election season, all parties cast the opposing view in it’s worst possible light, and then proceeded to make it look ignorant. Frankly most of us do this, and most of us fell for this during the last 18 months. For productive dialogue to occur, attempt to understand the best view of your opponent. Then offer thoughtful opposition. Neither candidate did this, both were guilty of over-simplifying and demonizing their opponent.
5) Try your best, at all times, to have other person perspective. Sometimes people feel so passionately that they are ‘right’ that they lose the ability to see the world through another’s eyes. Many people are scared right now, and they have reason. The person who was elected demonstrated significant narcissism and made many irresponsible statements throughout the Reality TV Show of a campaign. If the people at the ‘top’ (economically or politically) don’t make decisions that are good for the LARGE majority of the people, we are in trouble.
6) Last, if your person lost, try to keep perspective. In the last century your party has won 14 presidential elections, the other party has now won 12. History shows us that the parties trade back and forth, and the reality is, that is probably good. I can honestly say I wouldn’t want ‘my party’ to have control all the time. Probably not a good idea.
6b) If your person won, be slow to pump your arms or raise them in a victory V. We have serious problems that will not be solved by rhetoric. Being given power is one thing. Using it to solve real problems is a whole different ball game. Show a little humility. In four or eight years you’ll be sitting in defeat. (See History).