Love Trumps Hate

Friday, March 18, 2016

I can't quite bring myself to believe that Donald Trump is the leading Republican Presidential candidate. How did we get here? I literally do not know a single person who would support him, but apparently they exist, and in large numbers. And maybe this disbelief, or willful ignorance on my part, is in fact how we as a country have come to this point. 

What is scariest to me about Donald Trump winning the nomination is not that he could become President (I really, really, really can't even go there). No, what is scariest to me is what his popularity says about our country as a whole. He is an angry, rude and self-centered person. He looks out for himself and has no qualms about bullying others in his way. What does this say about us?
“We don’t see things the way they are. We see them the way we are” – Talmud
We see what we want to see, thanks in part to technology that shares posts and ads with us catered to what we "like." We are obsessed with shouting our opinions over social media and taking selfie after selfie, which by popular use is now a recognized word in the dictionary. So, is it any wonder that we have exalted a narcissistic bully to this level? Unfortunately, it's not. So instead of trying to persuade people not to vote for Donald Trump, I think the bigger challenge we face is how to heal our society. 

If we took a snapshot of our society right now, what would we see? Restaurants now offer specials and discounts to encourage people to put their phones away and actually talk to each other at dinner. The "news" is more concerned with viewership than providing facts, telling people what they want to hear rather than what is the truth. 

"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck." - Edward R. Murrow

The majority of our "social" encounters these days are provided by a technological device, which yes, now provides numerous emojis (I love Facebook's new love button - am I the only one that feels a little bad when I only like something now?) and ways to express ourselves, but it is still very impersonal. It is a lot easier to say things that may offend or hurt another's feelings when they are said behind the safety of a computer or phone screen. It protects us from experiencing the visible pain on someone's face. Our empathy is diminished in this way, which can lead to being more concerned with what is best for ourselves rather than what is best for everyone. If this is how we act, why wouldn't it be how we vote?

When we see only what we want to see, we stop finding common ground with others as it becomes easier to distance ourselves from those we disagree with. But we can only wear rose-colored glasses for so long before reality pushes back in. And reality I fear, has come in the form of Donald Trump. Right now our country is experiencing a period of great division. I do not have a magic answer for how to put our humpty dumpty country back together again, but I think it starts with looking inward rather than pointing fingers outward. I'm not convinced that being anti-Trump will solve anything. Instead, I think we need to focus on being pro-love, pro-kindness, pro-understanding and pro-selflessness.

At the beginning of this post I wondered how we got here, but now I think the more important question is how do we more forward? For me, I am going to focus more on my personal relationships and intentionally listening to and more importantly understanding those around me. And to start, I'm going to take a little hiatus from social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter (I'm not ready to say goodbye to my pretty photos on Instagram steps). 

For 30 days I am going to say goodbye Facebook, goodbye Twitter, and goodbye to the anger that inevitably comes from reading too many negative comments on social media. Maybe our country will be in a better place in 30 days...probably not, but hopefully, I will be. 

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