I’m having a little trouble understanding something following the election for our new president, but it’s not what you think. The candidate I voted for didn’t win the spot. This isn’t the first time that has happened and it won’t be the last. I’m just fortunate to live in a country where I can cast my vote. I get the chance to make a choice for the government. I also get the chance to make a choice with my response to the outcome.
During the dark days of those neverending campaigns, both sides said some things that were pretty appalling and both sides said a few things that were pretty great. Neither side was perfect. Perfection shouldn’t have been the expectation anyway. Both sides were flawed. That’s the reality.
For me, that choice is to accept the results by respecting the office of the president and by doing my part to live out the principles that I feel are important. Anyone who has ever witnessed an election should know that there will be voters who are elated with the results and voters who feel crushed. Read your history books. It happens. But, you know what else? Along with the right to vote, we also have the right to our feelings.
So, here’s my problem. No one has the right to belittle others. No one has the right to make fun of others who may feel overjoyed or depressed. No one has the right to turn someone’s sadness into a mockery. Feel happy, if that’s your current emotional state, but not at the expense of others.
My Facebook newsfeed has been a microcosm of what is happening in our country over the past few days and, in some cases, it’s not pretty. There is heckling. There is ridicule. There is revenge. There is hostility. It seems like the people who should simply be expressing their glee at the election results are making a sport of alienating the folks on the other side of the aisle. Is this really what democracy should look like?
Someone commented that the peaceful protesters are “throwing temper tantrums” because they didn’t get “a participation trophy.” Another posted a picture of one man sitting alone on a park bench with a sarcastic caption about a protest. Another read that any protestor should stay away from a particular town that had a lot of guns. I’ve even read that there would have been no problems if the election results had gone the other way. Really? Because my Facebook newsfeed had a lot of talk about a possible revolution prior to the election.
I see hope as well. While most of the alarmingly negative posts are from my age group (not sure what that says about my middle-aged generation–that’s another topic), the younger generation’s posts are more thoughtful and more respectful of both sides. Yes- those millennials seem to get it. Whether their candidate won or lost the election, they seem focused on doing some good in the world. Some are thrilled with the outcome, but they expressed their sentiments without diminishing their friends with the opposite opinions.
I guess the bottom line is this: if you’re overjoyed with the results, celebrate! Work for your causes. Likewise, if you find the results discouraging, find a way to bring some positivity to your worries. It’s something we should have learned in kindergarten-we all have the right to our own opinions.
With that right comes responsibility. And, that is the responsibility to be a beacon of light. To share without shock. To lead without pushing. To love without conditions. To learn without restrictions.
Whatever you’re feeling right now, just be a light.
(In the months that followed the 2016 election, I discovered that this post was a bit premature, maybe naive. I didn’t understand what was to come. Please read this post to see what I mean.)