What a Week

I was disappointed by this week’s presidential election. Okay, that’s likely an understatement, but the direction our country is going is a concern for me. My concern is that it feels like it’s the doctrine of fear, anger and hate that is winning – and that fear and hate is coming from both sides. Even more troubling to my mind is the increasing polarization of opinions and an increasing unwillingness to listen to the other side and find common ground.

It’s at the least sad and at it’s worst dangerous. The divisions in our discourse threaten to divide our nation. It fosters hate, which breeds violence. Violence that could explode uncontrollably.

I could write endlessly on the subject.

Someday I might, but for today I am going to turn to my religious, spiritual beliefs, and teachings of my father. The Jesus I know is force for peace and forgiveness. The spiritual belief I value above all others is to love, listen and help others.

My father taught me three lessons I’ll apply today:

  1. Don’t react, respond to the real problem.
  2. The only person you can change is you.
  3. Despots rise to power because moral people don’t speak out.

This week I’ve done something that I don’t do very often – I posted purposeful statements on my Facebook page declaring my feelings about the election. I have a number of friends and family in the LGBT community who are now fearful of having their rights stripped away. I’ve posted statements of support for these friends and their hard-earned rights to freely live their lives. In at least one post I promised to march with them if their rights were threatened.

That scares me, as does writing this post.

Generally I have confined my political action to voting and on patriotic holidays displaying the American Flag at my home. I stand for the national anthem, I thank those who’ve served in the armed forces, and respect the constitution and the institutions it mandates.

I do it quietly. Like I do most things. I like the personal peace I have around me and the mostly untroubled life I lead.

However in the current world, I now feel it necessary to move out of my comfort zone and start doing something more than just drop my ballot in the box. I’ve made a handful of posts on FB, and comments on blogs and I am sitting writing this post trying my best not to react with fear or anger, but rather with concern, love, and hope.

It would be emotionally satisfying to lash out against the president-elect and those who voted for him. It would be so satisfying to write that angry post and reflect all the hurt my soul feels.

But it wouldn’t help. It would only fuel the flames.

The real response is for me to understand what hurt, what fear, drove people to vote the way they did – on both sides. Then respond to that with acts of compassion and words of understanding. We desperately need to shut down the quick anger and move to considered responses.

I know that I can’t make others do this. My father often said that the path to frustration is to try to get others to behave the way you want. The only person you can change is you. You can influence others by your example.

Recently Heather and I have been reviewing our charitable giving and asking ourselves, “Are we putting our money where our mouth is?” We have decided that it’s time to increase our support of organizations that are in-line with our beliefs and hopes for the future. I wish that I could personally go support every cause or social program that is in-line with my values, but I just can’t – sometimes the best one can do is send a check in support of those doing the work.

Finally, there are limits. There are things in the world that I believe strongly must be stopped. I am willing to give the new administration a chance to govern, but I reserve my right as a citizen and a follower of the constitution to exercise my right – my obligation to speak and act against injustice.

May we all find a way to unite under one flag and care for one another.

Peace,
Andrew

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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44 Responses to What a Week

  1. LuAnn says:

    I agree with you Andrew. The hateful words I am hearing on both sides is very sad and troubling. Now is the time to come together and help those who feel the most persecuted and/or neglected. Sitting around and doing nothing more than complaining or spewing hate does no one any good and just widens the divide in this country. I plan to do good for others where I can and have faith that we will see better days.

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  2. ljlhannah says:

    I appreciate you having the courage to speak your truth. I don’t think that if the election went the other way we would necessarily be in a better place because half the country would still be angry. Our country is broken and healing is a lengthy process.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Debra says:

    Andrew, I am completely aligned with your analysis and thinking. I have just returned from a week in Oakland. I arrived the day following the election and was immediately aware of the “Not My President” signs in the storefronts, which just heightened the tension. We’ve all watched “reality” unfold over the past week and my heart hurts. I, too, have a very personal faith in Christ and as sad and troubled as I can be–as I am–I feel what I most need is the courage of my convictions to stand up and be counted. I have family members and good friends in absolute distress with fear because of perceived threats to their freedoms. I’ve been doing a similar review of how and where my advocacy roles can be expanded and it feels like a necessary challenge. You have written your thoughts and feelings so perfectly here. I am so glad I didn’t miss this important post!

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  4. Well written post asking some of the questions many are asking. This was one of the ugliest drives up to a presidential election I’ve ever seen, and it incited all kinds of hateful responses from all corners of the Country. It has set up back in so many ways, and I wonder if the drama wasn’t just created to appeal to a certain segment to vote one way or the other. Now the vote has been cast, we are left with ugliness all around us, and maybe it won’t be as bad as we think. But, will we survive the ugliness to get to the part that may not be so bad. Right now, I think there are still more questions than answers. I pray for respect, tolerance, and peace for everyone.

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  5. I really appreciate this post. You put into words much of what I’ve been struggling with, and I respect your courage to write it.

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  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    Well said. I’ve had many of the same thoughts lately but couldn’t articulate them as wonderfully as this.

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  7. Well, I can cheer you up, Andrew, as well as your LGBTQ friends: Most of the hate and horror the press reported about Trump is a lie or a willful misinterpretation of events. In fact, 91% of media Trump reports were negative. There was no way to get the truth from the Press. If you look at the primary evidence, you see a whole different story.

    It’s going to be OK. We need–as Hillary Clinton said–to go forward with an open mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem isn’t the president elect. It isn’t the press. The press is a simple process that sensationalizes a story to increase clicks on their website. The election has been a great boom to the press as they can play on the fears people. I don’t rely on that for my views.

      The evidence I see, from friends, it’s fear on both sides. I am willing go forward with a open mind, but I have already herd personal accounts of supporters on both sides feeling emboldened to engage in violent and hateful acts.

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      • Can’t argue that. America’s placement in the list of free-est countries in the world steadily goes down, year by year. Protesting is fine, but not when it infringes on other’s rights–and who defines that? Colleges I think have gone crazy. I’m so glad my kids are out.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. lorieb says:

    I can only imagine what Americans are feeling, I find it very unsettling here in Canada. It makes we wonder though what or who is inciting this violence and why does it continue? The decision was made, through quite a lengthy (and ? fair) process, I think it is time to move on and hope for the best although that is much easier said than done. I saw Donald Trump and his family on 60 minutes last night, he sounded/spoke like he is truly only interested in improving the country. Maybe naivete on my part, but I hope he puts his money where his mouth is (where it was on the 60 minutes interview)

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    • The problem isn’t the president elect or the method he was elected. He is just a sign of a deeper dived in the US which seems to be pitting urban and rural, coastal and heartland against each other. Values between the two are different and more importantly, the urban populations have managed to recover from the recession by embracing high tech jobs while the manufacturing strength of the heartland is gone and those jobs aren’t coming back. The middle class is under attack and is now fighting back.

      One truth of all presidents: then never keep their promises so I have hope that our new president won’t keep some of the bleaker ones. He’s already backtracking on a number of key pledges and I suspect that in a year or two his followers won’t be as happy as they are today.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Well said, Andrew. Together we can make a difference.
    Ω

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  10. Wonderful post Andrew, I feel the same way!

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  11. In most ancient civilizations, the powerful become weakened by greed, gluttony, and sloth and the empire falls….Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome. I am afraid we have been at the top for so long and had it so good, that there is only one way to go much like these ancient civilizations. There seems to be a reset going on. It will probably get a whole lot worse before it gets better. My Grandmother used to say that the bear will triumph over the eagle (I believe she read that in the bible somewhere). This could be the start of that.

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    • That is a possibility, but it is my hope if enough of us stand up and speak, remembering the past, that we can avoid that. While it could get worse, there is always the hope of dawn.

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  12. jfwknifton says:

    Excellent! Well said.

    Like

  13. artseafartsea says:

    Thank you for your eloquent post.

    Like

  14. Dan says:

    Thank you, Andrew. It’s a helpful perspective as I work to find a way to best express my own concerns (I feel another blog coming on…).

    I’m an idealist. I truly believe in our founding principle that we’re “all created equal” and it’s something I spent 20 years of my life sworn to protect and defend. So it rips my heart out to see how divided we have become. We have a brief window of opportunity to turn this around and, as you suggested, listening is going to be key.

    One thing we cannot do, however, is tolerate the hateful acts that are being perpetrated post-election on both sides. We must call out those responsible and hold them accountable. We cannot turn a blind eye for, if we do, it will only embolden those committing those acts.

    Thank you again.

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    • The thing now is to reach out to those we disagree with love and compassion. There are real fears and problems out there. Much the rhetoric masks deeper problems and fears that need to be brought to the light and addressed.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. davidprosser says:

    You’re a good man Andrew. America is going to need good men to bring people back to a state of non-violent discourse. Leading by example is the best way. Everyone must be prepared to work towards an understanding of equality for all during the next four years (or longer) and protecting the rights of the vulnerable minorities as previously granted.
    Hugs

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    • The work never ends. Sometimes though it does seem like we need to work harder. This is one of those times. Discussing, listening and understanding are the places to start. Giving a voice to the voiceless is a poet’s job. I just hope my little efforts help.

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  16. Ron says:

    I felt exactly like you 8 years ago…and things did go from bad to worse. But I never complained by destroying property or physically attacking people. I do not share your political views but I will gladly defend your right to express them. I would add that my world is often made better by having read those things you write! Keep up the good work Andrew…you’re a good man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And you’re a good man too. I suspect that we have more in common than you think. I too will defend your right to free speech. I am touched that you find something meaningful in my words. I promise to keep writing.

      Like

  17. tjsthings says:

    Thank you for this eloquent post! It so beautifully describes how so many are feeling.

    Like

  18. Beth Pine says:

    Andrew,
    If all people viewed the world through your lens, no one would have anything to fear. Very nice post.
    Beth

    Like

  19. Very well said. Thank you for this.

    Like

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