I had a different introduction to my weekly Weekend Necessities series, along with a handful of other links to share, prepared in my drafts this week. But with the election, and especially its outcome, I wanted to speak to that a little more because I haven’t been able to rally from the concession quite as smoothly as I would’ve liked. I know that Hillary Clinton is a complex career politician and she brought with her a lot of baggage that gave many people, even those who voted for her and especially those who didn’t, great concern over her potential leadership. But the thing about Hillary’s hypothetical presidency was that it would signify something more than the weight of her imperfections. It would symbolize a step forward for–yes, women–but also that America is ready to take seriously its minorities. Because when a minority is lifted up it actually reestablishes the values this country was founded on, which is that, regardless of our biological genesis, we are creating opportunity for a better world. That Trump based his campaign on backwards, hateful thinking that could unravel the last 8 years of President Obama’s efforts in this vein is painfully distressing.
Something that I wrote on Facebook the other night still sticks with me, about how the central issue surrounding this election has been a massive fear of irrelevancy from both sides. Our system favored Trump, but our popular vote favored Hillary. It’s been a stressful tug-of-war between people who are afraid of moving forward and people who are desperate for it. Now that we have our results the only thing to do is throw ourselves into loving and kindness and laughter and work. Someone made me laugh yesterday when I was feeling at my lowest and it turned me around completely. I took everything a little less seriously for a moment, but just a moment. I still know the repercussions of this election could be ghastly. Even the people I know who voted for Trump didn’t like him and didn’t want him in office, but they were so hell-bent against Hillary they voted for him regardless of the stream of hateful comments he left behind. That’s a terrifying thought. But I also know people I love who voted for him, and that’s a grievous conflict for me as they feel my voting for Hillary Clinton is a grievous conflict for them. It’s all hard to make sense of.
What this person who made me laugh reminded me of, though, is that this isn’t just happening to one person, it’s happening to everyone. And the only way to respond to this is to approach each person we meet with love and kindness and maybe a little good-hearted snark. If we can engage warmly and openly with people, listen when we need to listen, speak up when we need to speak up, laugh when we need to laugh, then we can work through anything. That is what history tells us: Humanity prevails. If not, we wouldn’t be here. It may not be easy, but we can make this better. Despite our differences. I really do believe that. Below are some articles I’ve been reading this week that speak to this spirit and offer ideas on how we can best move forward.
Design*Sponge founder, Gracey Bonney’s, response to the election. She writes, “I write because it makes me feel connected to other people. And connecting with other people gives me hope.” As a writer myself this is a phenomenal impact I can attest to and something I hope to chase after more fervently in the aftermath of this election season.
An interesting perspective from a citizen of the UK, as this election happens in the wake of Brexit.
A collection of articles gathered by Literary Hub on Trump’s victory written by various voices of the literary community. Make sure you read Roxane Gay’s, The Audacity of Hopelessness, on the New York Times, if nothing else.
Erin Boyle of Reading My Tea Leaves ruminates on how she will approach her children with the reality of this event and how it will affect them throughout their lives.
Joanna Goddard shares her own sources of inspiration in response to this event and offers guiding words that can help us both digest and utilize this outcome for the benefit of ourselves and others.
And of course, Hannah Brencher fights this with love, love, and more love written as an uplifting epistolary listicle.
There is also this interesting Ted Talk I listened to the other night on my way home from the gym defining what it really means to be disgusted and how we can dispel that feeling from within ourselves.
I feel almost as though this list wouldn’t be complete without providing some timely articles from Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. She shares a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye this week who writes that “…it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, / only kindness that ties your shoes / and sends you out into the day…” and a poem by Lucille Clifton from 2015 who asks us to “…come celebrate / with me that everyday / something has tried to kill me / and has failed.”
And finally, President Obama is featured on Humans of New York with wisdom that got him through his congressional defeat in 1999.
Having experienced the particularly grave drama of this recent election in a way that feels much closer than it did when I was in college, it’s hard for me to believe I ever felt so lackluster about politics. I’ve never seen myself as a political person, in part because–from a young age–I’ve observed people close to me become consumed by it, made bitter toward other people because of it. My ideas of what it meant to be political began and ended there, but outside of these people, and especially with the help of the Obamas, I’ve come to see that politics doesn’t have to be like this, and that maybe there are ways we can reinsert sophistication and eloquence into the system.
I hope everyone enjoys their weekend. Remember: talking openly and respectfully with people whom you share disagreements can actually brandish you with a stronger ability to empathize. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” It is possible to listen to and understand someone, respect them even, and yet not agree with them. This very special ability is what can help us, I believe. We just have to be open to giving people our time and attention, and most importantly, our consideration.