Saturday, November 12, 2016
A Call for Kindness
Something surprising happened on Tuesday : despite the predictions of the pollsters and pundits, Donald Trump was elected President. During the campaign, Mr. Trump was often unkind. For a short list, he poked fun of the press, dubbed his opponents with nasty nicknames in the way a middle school student might, was belligerent at times, refused to release his tax returns, picked a fight with the parents of a dead marine, talked of building a wall to keep Mexicans out, and made the Muslim members of our country feel unwanted as though they all might be terrorists. He accepted support from the Ku Klux Klan, and the list goes on and on. His history is no better: he has been accused of violating women and a tape of his conversation is vulgar. While he minimizes it as "locker room talk," he seems to say he sexually assaulted women. Three marriages, and a profound emphasis on the appearance of women as though that determines their worth. Finally, and perhaps most egregiously, despite having no relationship to the case, he took out ads in the New York Times calling for the execution of teenagers who were implicated in the rape of the Central Park jogger. They were later found to be innocent. The execution of teenagers? Oh, black teenagers. This all bothers me a great deal. And he sees himself as a supporter of women who has a wonderful temperment.
I'm going to ignore all the policy issues: Donald Trump has changed political parties 7 times in the last two decades and 3 years ago he was a Democrat. He started to reverse his stated plans on the day after the election and he's already named and unnamed the head of his transition team. This week, many of his policies are policies I would hate to see enacted. But politically, I have no idea who he is or how much irreparable damage he'll do to this county, and half of our citizens believe his policies might help. In terms of policy, by all means, work with him or work against him, as a democracy is meant to be.
Personally, I feel he puts energy into being cruel and he is erratic and undignified.
This is what is bothering me, if you're interested. While some supporters may share Mr. Trump's xenophobia, his objectification of women, disdain for illegal immigrants, and general lack of dignity, it bothers me that many Clinton supporters are fiercely angry at those who voted for Trump, as though they share all of his personal characteristics. We've divided as a nation. And while many people have talked about what damage it does to have their children see an unkind leader, I don't think it helps to now have those children frightened that all the boys in the class will see girls as objects, or that he has created the hate we are seeing. And the hate is not just on the Trump side, Clinton supporters are venting their anger/hate towards Trump supporters and have been violent as well.
I was absolutely appalled to read yesterday that a website was created targeting African American students at the University of Pennsylvania in a site that named them, called for 'daily lynching' and showed violent images. The site came from Oklahoma, not from Penn, and Penn was perhaps chosen because it's Trump's alma mater. Oh, it's mine, too.
The KKK held a parade for Trump. As disgusting as that sounds to me, the truth is that the KKK existed before Trump, there has been bullying during the Obama administration, and there have always been cruel and unkind people, racists, and haters. I imagine the Trump victory has unleased this for the moment. but kind people did not become evil overnight, and it's possible that the media was not covering every racist comment spray painted on a wall before the election, or every KKK activity.
It takes energy to be kind and it takes energy to be unkind. It takes no energy to quietly go on with your life. We are all living in America, and if this plane goes down, it takes us all. If you're not happy, fight the system. While we should certainly prosecute criminals, don't call for hatred against your neighbor because he supported a candidate you don't like-- he's with half the country-- unless you know that he's propagating unkind acts against others. Don't scare your children by telling them that they will now be subjected to hatred and discrimination, and don't give them permission to hate. Don't demonize those who voted for a candidate you didn't want, and don't equate every supporter with his candidate, people vote for for many reasons. I know there are those who feel so strongly that their ideology is right that they shun friendships with anyone who doesn't share their exact values. So be it.
Half the nation is not Donald Trump and every Clinton supporter is not an angel. I'd ask you to be kind, even to those who supported a candidate you didn't, be it Trump or Clinton, but if you can't be kind, at least don't be unkind. We need each other, and in the coming years, we may need each other a lot.
Finally, over on Clinical Psychiatry News, I wrote a rather personal article : One Psychiatrist's Take On Election Anxiety.
Posted by Dinah on Saturday, November 12, 2016