I started this as a piece on how I’ll talk to my daughter about the election and realized this is how I’m processing all of this. I suspect that less than 3 of you will make it all the way through! If you do, maybe I’ll drop a Fun Size Snickers in the mail to you….
I’ll start by asking: What thoughts or feelings do you have about the election?
(This first part may not be necessary because she may not even think this…) First of all, it’s all going to be ok. It helps to start there because if we don’t some of the other stuff is harder to listen to. I will patiently listen to and understand why you think it might not be even when I know it will be ok.
We’ve talked and seen it come true time and again, things never turn out like we think they will and they often turn out much better than we think. I choose hope.
A woman received over 59,000,000 votes to be president (almost 48%). Despite frequent and infuriating mistreatment and devaluation of women just that fact is a sign of major progress. A woman will definitely be president at some point. You are a strong young woman and I’ll back you in every way I can to remind you of that and nurture it in you. You deserve every opportunity to pursue every goal and dream you create no matter what anyone else says.
Last night proved that the basic right to vote when collectively focused can bring about revolutionary and nearly unpredictable results. It’s how our country works. Regardless of how we feel about the outcome, the system working as it’s supposed to is a magnificent thing to behold.
To that end, in 4 years there will be another opportunity for a group to bring about another revolution of a different kind if it appears necessary at the presidential level. In the meantime another basic function of checks and balances in our government and the Constitution exist for a reason.
Donald Trump said at times despicable things and in spite of it, like Hillary said, we owe him an open mind along with the vigilance provided to every citizen by the laws of our land. Men (and sometimes even women) who treat you disrespectfully because you are a woman are confused and deserved to be called out. I wouldn’t be surprised if just the fact that he’s said those things and he’s president is quite confusing and you’re not alone. That being said….
If I was 47 and lived in an area with you where I had no job and no prospects of a job coming anytime soon and my skills for a new job were in dramatically less demand and I needed to put food on the table, I would be really scared. And my fear would be covered by anger, at a lot of people and a lot of things. If someone spoke in a way that addressed that fear directly in a way nobody else had before and was in a potential to take on an authoritative position to make change, I would likely listen and may even ignore quite a few other things that are troubling and vote for him. My number one job is to provide for you as best I possibly can.
We will judge the new president as every other president, more than anything else on his behaviors and actions. I pray that he will bring about some level of positive change and perhaps re-think the impact that his words have on his efforts to unite rather than divide us. And regardless of the direction, our fundamental values don’t change. So for example, even if laws like gay marriage change our beliefs about our gay citizens’ right to it will not.
I expect you to continue to treat people with the same level of kindness and desire for understanding as you always have. Some of your friends and their families may be scared, do your best to listen to them carefully. Some of your friends may be emboldened to speak divisively or even hatefully, do your best to listen to them carefully.
I expect you to stand up for yourself and others, even if that flies in the face of collective thought (sometimes BECAUSE it flies in the face of the collective thought). I’ve taught you for years for think for yourself and you’ve repeatedly demonstrated you can and will, I expect you to keep doing that. I will back you 100% when you stand up for yourself even if it causes trouble.
We’ve talked about this numerous times, there are people out there that discriminate on all types of levels. The discrimination’s foundation is fear and lack of information. Your defense comes from a truth rooted deeply inside you.
I find it hard to face that fact at times. What we each do on a daily basis in our interactions is more important than anything else, even when we fail to live up to an exalted standard (and we will, it’s where apologies and forgiveness thrive). We won’t let the words or even actions of divisiveness and anger from anyone shake the unshakeable God given truth of love and equality for everyone.
Honestly, on some levels I prefer to be reminded that it exists rather than have it hidden in the shadows keeping us unaware of the truth that unconsciously may be guiding behavior.
And remember, in the face of some of the most ruthless fear and division some of the most transformational leaders of all time have arisen. Perhaps in the next four years someone like Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa or Gandhi will rise up. Or perhaps even some version of their spirit will arise in each of us and we will collectively carry that spirit.
I’m not suggesting that ruthless fear and division will definitely come to pass, rather I have hope and proof that in the face of division that God given flower of truth blooms like a rose in concrete. I will always firmly believe that my version God (that isn’t everyone’s) has a plan for the world and I don’t know it. And my time and energy is best spent paying attention to how my actions impact the ones I love most.
For the time being, maybe we can smile a little more quickly and warmly than normal at people. I find that when I’m in fear I forget that basic power that God gave us. Remember the basic things we believe in like hope, joy and honesty and bring your version of God into the picture as often as possible when those things seem obscured like the sun behind the clouds.
I’m always here to talk to you about what’s going on and that if you see me behaving or speaking differently than many of the values I’m pointing to above (which I will, I’m human) I expect you to call me out on it. You have a voice and always will. It’s a Dad to daughter version of the fundamental right given to us in this incredible country that we live in. I don’t view you calling me out as a sign of disrespect to me, rather I see it as a deep respect for yourself.
Wanna go get sushi? :)