This morning as we awaken in a world many were unable to imagine, I am struck by how little I know, how much less I understand, and how wrong I can be.
The election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the United States of America is a sobering call to the disciplines of deep self-reflection and absolute humility.
Those of us who live in a little unreal bubble of educated, well-meaning, benign liberalism, failed to see something real in the world around us. We believed that our world-view would carry the day. We believed that, in the end, the majority would agree with us because we knew that we were so self-evidently and obviously on the right side.
We, who could not imagine a Donald Trump victory were wrong. We failed to see clearly. There must have been signs that we, or those we trust to know, refused to perceive.
There are so many questions.
Where were the experts who are paid to see and keep us informed?
Where were the scholars and commentators we trust to tell us what is really happening out there?
What is it that made it possible for Michael Moore to be one of the few people who saw the truth and never swayed from the truth he saw?
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I gave it to you straight last summer when I told you that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for president.
I comforted myself with the conviction that Michael Moore was simply employing a strategy to get out the vote. Surely, he did not really believe in the inevitability of Donald Trump’s victory. This must be merely a ploy to rally the troops.
The most frightening thing on this morning after an unimaginable outcome is how easy it is to be deluded.
When we listen only to “our own kind, and refuse to take seriously people whose ideas, thoughts, and world-view differ radically from our own, we become unable to see what is really going on. When we stop listening to what people are really saying because their opinion is so different from ours, we miss the signs of the times and doom ourselves to living in a world that is not real.
Donald Trump and his supporters saw something I did not see. They tapped into a wave of energy, I was unwilling to take seriously. From my little myopic corner of the universe, I only took seriously those thoughts and opinions that were in line with what I believed to be true.
Why do we stop listening?
We stop listening because we think we know the answers. The arrogance of certainty blocks the possibility of hearing. I am unable to perceive when I believe that my reality is the only reality.
We stop listening because we focus too much on what appears to divide us and so feel compelled to affirm that I am right and your opinion is beneath consideration.
We stop listening because we become addicted to the adrenaline high of believing we are on the side of the righteous.
It frightens me to face the reality of how wrong I could be.
But, this is not a time for fear. It is a time to reclaim within myself that inner peace and equilibrium that were so deeply shaken by yesterday’s outcome. Today is a day to open more deeply to love, to commit myself more fully to living honestly. It is time to take up the challenge of listening more carefully and treating people with greater respect especially those who see the world so differently.
In response to last night’s election, I must double my efforts to open to viewpoints I do not share. I must renounce my tendency to stick with my tribe, believing that our view is the only possible opinion. I must hold on to the humility that is the ground in which empathy grows and real insight and awareness become possible. I must return to focusing on things that unite, rather than those that appear to divide.
Listening, respect and humility are the only way forward in this world I lacked the imagination to see on the horizon.
further from the clear-eyed prophet Michael Moore today, although I don’t entirely support his entire agenda here. At this point I believe he is absolutely right:
Everyone must stop saying they are “stunned” and “shocked.” What you mean to say is that you were in a bubble and weren’t paying attention to your fellow Americans and their despair. YEARS of being neglected by both parties, the anger and the need for revenge against the system only grew.
It seems Bernie Sanders saw clearly. Here is his statement made a year ago: :
Let me be very clear. In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout.
With all due respect, and I do not mean to insult anyone here, that will not happen with politics as usual. The same old, same old will not be successful.
The people of our country understand that — given the collapse of the American middle class and the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing — we do not need more establishment politics or establishment economics.
We need a political movement which is prepared to take on the billionaire class and create a government which represents all Americans, and not just corporate America and wealthy campaign donors.
In other words, we need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of it.
~ Bernie Sanders August 28th, 2015