With numbness, I managed to conduct a class and meet with students the day after suffering from election night shock. Finally on Veterans' Day, I took a step outside of my daze and expressed gratitude for the men and women who have served and are serving our country. Under blue skies, the brass eagle at the Massachusetts State House looked ready to take flight. I thought to myself, it should want to fly away, because despite being an emblem of the United States, many in our nation are terrified about our nation's incoming regime. Immigrants, people of color, and women have been subjected to Twitter rants, real taunts, and words that poisoned civil and political discourse.
When my college freshmen asked me how I felt about the election on Wednesday -- already seeing the sadness in their faces -- I replied: “I am wearing all black today, and I may do so for the next four years.”
The students wanted to talk about their feelings. After doing so, I asked that they answer four questions in writing:
The election results left many feeling afraid, angry, disappointed and sad. They were concerned about human rights in our country. They were baffled as to how we might heal. One young person wrote about faith and acceptance. But her positive message ended on this note: "Maybe Trump will be impeached or will go to jail."
Blaming social media, Bernie, voters and non-voters: As for blame, they pointed fingers at social media and at people who did not take the time to educate themselves about the candidates. However, many adults are blaming Bernie Sanders, who crashed the Democratic party, baited Hillary, and then became caught up in himself and his slogans. How many people today have buyers' remorse among those who voted? And for the nearly 47 percent who failed to vote, what are you feeling today?
The Atlantic Daily reminded us: “It seemed impossible for a long time, but it’s really happened: Donald J. Trump—despite his lack of political experience, despite his lies and impulsive temperament, despite the serious allegations against him—is the president-elect of the United States." (1)
How can we find a way to be grateful about this election and move forward?
1. Be grateful for time to mourn. Let the seriousness of our nation's precarious situation sink in.
2. Be grateful for Hillary Clinton. She showed us that a woman can run for president, win the popular vote, lose the election because of the antiquated Electoral College, and concede graciously.
3. Be grateful that we live in a country where we can protest. And be grateful to the thousands of young people organizing to do so from schools and colleges and encouraging business professionals and professors to join them. Allison Peryea, a law partner at Leahy Fjelstad Peryea in Seattle, spontaneously took to the streets in protest as she documented the "Pussy Grabs Back" in Above the Law. (2)
4. Be grateful that there is a mid-term election. Work now for change.
5. Be grateful that we have the American Civil Liberties Union to defend the people whose rights are at risk.
6. Be grateful that we live in a nation enriched by diversity. Do we show love and perform random acts of kindness to our neighbors or strangers often enough?
7. Be grateful for charitable organizations such as those that help young people learn to read and stay in school. Keep in mind that Planned Parenthood, which supports women, is at risk.
8. Be grateful for environmentalists who are educating us about the need to protect our planet. We are threatened by a president-elect and his cronies who do not believe in climate change.
9. Be grateful to President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. They are role models who behaved with dignity in the face of Trumpian bullying, insults, and innuendos.
10. Be grateful that you have the power to re-wire your brain for gratitude. Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D., taught us that we simply need to spend three minutes a day or one minute three times a day for 45 days to build a positive pathway. Read how in my talk with her in "Train Your Brain for Gratitude." (3)
One of my sisters is still feeling too sick for gratitude. She pointed out that our nation's new leader is a man who has openly boasted about "grabbing" women. That vulgar hand will be placed on a Bible come Inauguration Day.
Attorney Peryea, said: "The effects of this one foolish decision by our country will be felt for years, on the Supreme Court, in foreign policy, and in our uteruses. I feel wounded by the people of America, who revealed something about themselves I wish I didn’t know."(2)
Now is the time to turn off the TV. Take a break from social media. Cleanse your mind of anger. Meditate. Then organize. Bring more women into politics. Work for peace, freedom, and a future filled with office holders who deserve our trust and our respect. If we start working now, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we can nominate a candidate for president in 2020 with the intelligence, temperament, and wisdom to serve as Commander-in-Chief.
Copyright 2016 Rita Watson