I was stunned election night. So was half the voting public, not to mention much of the world. My CPA says he’s not sure how long it will take before he can talk about it. My two boys, different as day and night, are on opposite sides: one euphoric and jubilant over non-politician, businessman Donald Trump in the White House, the other so depressed and fearful of Trump’s leadership he’s researching Canada as refuge.
Whatever else Donald Trump is or isn’t, he is already revealing us to ourselves. I say this with reference to the cornerstone of democracy: how superficially or seriously we take the sovereign will of the majority in a free election. It’s easy to get behind the winner when our guy or gal wins. It’s been our national history to come together around the winner after hard-fought political campaigns because we respected both candidates and believed in the voting process as the will of the People.
But now we’re discovering how superficial our faith in democracy is. It’s a fundamental test of faith in our system to spend two years in bitter hate camps and then embrace the will of the majority in open election.
It’s the ‘hate camps’ that have to go, not our system. Two years is too long, too much vitriol. Talking Heads are too ubiquitous, too shrill, too strident, too partisan to cultivate thoughtful voters and post-election unity.
I think of my two boys. Same election but such different eyes! One sees hope, the other hopelessness.
My Girlfriend, Anna, sent me a story of two dogs who separately enter a room. One emerges wagging his tail, the other comes out growling fiercely. An observer ponders what could possibly be inside the room to make one dog so happy but the other so mad? To her surprise she finds a room filled with mirrors. The happy dog found a thousand happy dogs looking back at him while the angry dog saw only angry dogs growling back at him.
It may seem simplistic to say “what you see is what you get”, but it’s what Lilly Tomlin used to call, “The Truuf”. Percepts without concepts are blind. ALL perception is selective and subjective. We ’see’ what we’re conditioned to see by our biases regarding what to look for and what to look out for. So what we ’see’ in Life’s mirror tells as much about what we bring to the seeing as about what there is to see in the room of mirrors.
I know a happy little black dog who wags his tail at Life’s mirror. I want to be more like that little Scottie dog.
As I think of our national presidential election and the ‘room of mirrors’ the election opens up to me, it’s time for me to wag more and bark less. It’s time for ME to renew faith in my beacon democratic system, my faith in the will of the majority. That’s the American way. We’re not a perfect system, but we’re the best there is. It’s time for me to love this system, all its curves and all its edges, all its perfect imperfections.
We are ONE People and that’s the ONLY kind of citizenship in this democracy worth the name.
Joseph Harvill, Scottiephile