Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trying to Make Sense of the Senseless

For me, Tuesday evening could not have been off to a better start. My pal Brunie came over to watch election returns with me. We had electoral maps and crayons, cold white wine, and yummy Chinese food. We also dropped by my neighbor's house to sample Nasty Woman cocktails — for science! (Verdict: not so great. But it was still fun to try them. And Brunie loved building a Lego White House.)

The polls were predicting a relatively easy win for my girl Hillary, whom I fell in love with in 1991 (I always say, "She had me at the headband") and have been voting for since 2008.
All the ingredients for a perfect night!

But then Brunie left and suddenly America started turning red, a giant hemorrhage oozing all over my electoral college coloring sheet.

And you know what happened next. I guess I've had my head in the sand, because I truly didn't believe it was possible.

As a dear friend wrote to me today, "We've had repellent nincompoops in the White House before, and we've had charming nincompoops in the White House before, and America has endured. But never a nincompoop of this caliber."

And yet, and yet. As incomprehensible as I find it, people I love and admire would be feeling just as bad as I feel right this moment if Hillary had been elected — shocked, appalled, frightened, angry, nauseated.
As we learn in preschool: "You get what you get, and you don't get upset."

(Though the cocktail-sharing neighbor says her daughter has always heard this as, "You get and you get, and you don't get upset"!!)

But here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, we are upset indeed. The principal sent a note to the parents, acknowledging that a lot of the kids are suffering:
We have seen degrading language increase during this election. We need to reassert our community norms and reassure students that this is a supportive and safe environment.  

Many in our community voted for President-elect Trump. In Arlington, Massachusetts, they were in the minority. They have a right to their perspective and to be respected. We can learn from each other by listening and trying to understand different points of view.
Tonight, my church is offering a "post-election service of healing and recommitment":
People feel deep spiritual needs after such an acrimonious election season. We seek healing as well as a recommitment to the values and vision of beloved community. Today we remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
Is it just Arlington that is feeling so bruised and battered? It's hard for me to believe that, say, my hometown Chico, California, is reeling in quite the same way.

I also wonder: How will we ever heal this divide? If, for example, you truly believe that abortion is murder and that gay marriage is a moral abomination (or that the federal government has no business sticking its nose in either matter), how can you possibly vote for someone who will fight to the death to keep both safe and legal? Maybe we really do need to become two Americas: East-West America and North-South America. It would divide just about that neatly, wouldn't it?

Mimosa is reeling from the aftermath of her first election:
I'm still trying to deal with all of this. A lot of kids cried in class today, and everybody is really scared.


Some things I wrote to her:
  • The United States is blessed with a number of democratic processes that make it impossible for one guy to do too much damage.
  • Not everyone who voted for Donald Trump did so because they believe the bigoted things that he has said this year. Many of them voted for him because they feel frustrated with the economy, they feel socially left behind, and they are exercising the one power they have.
  • I absolutely believe that Mimosa will have many more opportunities to vote for female presidents in her lifetime. We have several superstars right here in Massachusetts — Elizabeth, Katherine, Maura, and Michelle, among others. Who knows what the future holds?
  • Barack Obama is still our president, for weeks and weeks and weeks.
Husband wrote to her today, too, and he concluded his sweet note with these wise words:
The most important thing is not to give in to despair. So much political history has been made by one-time "losers" who found the seeds of eventual victory in their initial defeats.
It is not my nature to live in gloom, so I will keep my head up and look for rays of hope where I can find them. (Mr. Trump said some nice words about my girl Hillary in his victory speech, which I appreciated. That's all I've got for now, but stay tuned.)

Yes, I will keep my little flame burning bright, but first I'm going to finish this wine. I will never get to vote for Hillary Clinton again, and tonight I need to have a little wallow.

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