We in the United States have just experienced a contentious, divisive, ugly political season and election. Many of us were stunned by the result, others exultant. Many who had been quiet used this election to speak. Confusion and fear abound. Many of us are shaken by the realization that there are powerful forces at work that we don’t understand. We are fearful for what happens next, not just for ourselves but for those we care about. We worry about the rise of hate and the impacts on vulnerable populations.
Since then, many of us, on all sides, seem to be becoming even more entrenched in our own positions. If we are going to begin to heal, that is exactly what we must work against. Now is the time we should move outside our usual, comfortable circles. Healing requires really listening to those we disagree with. Healing means we have to examine ourselves as honestly as we can, to try to see how our positions might look to others, to see how we might be contributing to the negativity.
The fundamental principle of nonviolence is to begin from the assumption that all parties involved in a situation have some truth. This means really believing there is something to learn from everyone involved. Those who have experienced this know they themselves develop a deeper, better understanding by learning from others.
I understand why many of my friends have been involved in anti-Trump demonstrations. When the rhetoric from the Trump campaign has promoted division and disparagement, the protests are meant as a warning against implementing policies that would legislate those same principles.
But I think we should consider how those who voted for Trump see these protests. First, I believe a great many people who voted for Trump did not vote for him, but were saying establishment politics by elites has not only not worked for them, but has worked against them, and I agree with that. Our political system has been corrupted by money and the influence of corporate lobbyists.
Also, the Trump administration is finding out what a huge task it has before it. Isn’t now the time to say we, who didn’t vote for him, want to have a voice, even if we have the impression we will probably have little influence? We will have no, or a negative influence, if we don’t give the new administration any chance at all. Trump has actually made some promises that would be great if he can make them happen, particularly related to creating jobs. We might be most effective if we turned our attention to seeing what we could do to actually make some of those ideas work.