I’m what the alt-right like to call an SJW, a social justice warrior. My actual voting patterns are all over the map, but I support abortion rights, many environmental protection measures, gay marriage and access to healthcare for all. I police my dad’s language for political correctness, and I’m raising my 3-year-old son as a feminist in gender neutral clothing. For small-g god’s sake, I was a television reporter for 15 years.
And I’m sorry.
Not for any of the above things, my views haven’t changed. However, the feelings that overwhelmed me today when I woke up to a Donald Trump presidency today were guilt and shame. Because I know in a way, the Donald Trump presidency is all my fault.
The people have spoken. You can break it down by whatever demographic you like, but some measure of a majority of Americans, and therefore a substantial part of North America, feels like they’re being willfully excluded by the educated, the wealthy, the powerful. The people who like to think think they dictate behaviour and codify social norms.
I like to think of myself as someone who donates to charity. Someone who feels empathy for the homeless and underhoused, for those with mental illness and addiction problems. I support accepting refugees from Syria and other conflict zones around the world. I embrace newcomers. I correct people who call them “immigrants” instead of “newcomers.”
Yet I hold in disdain Fox News viewers, bigots, gun owners who are too enthusiastic, people who don’t take care of their health, people who oppose abortion, people who oppose gay marriage. No matter how in need or disenfranchised the people in these groups, I reject them because of their beliefs.
No matter how in need or disenfranchised the people in these groups, I reject them because of who they are.
I will say, “Okay but why can’t those gun nuts just have a conversation about safety regulations or gun show laws? How is that an infringement on their rights?”
I also say, “Well of course I personally think super late term abortion is wrong, but we can’t limit it! If you give those religious nuts one inch they’ll overturn Roe v Wade and then where will women be?”
And hey, how bout those Fox News viewers, those Alex Jones listeners, those Paul Joseph Watson followers, those Milo whatsisname supporters? I’ve spent the last decade pointing out what a sham that media system is. I lamented the echo chamber of their supporters, whose views are SO wrong, and just constantly reinforced because those people only choose to consume media that say what they want to hear.
Well guess what. I’ve been watching Jon Oliver, Samantha Bee, listening to CBC and reading the Washington Post, tuning in to Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show. You can imagine my surprise when the results started to roll in last night.
It would seem that I’ve been stuck in an echo chamber that only reinforces what I want to hear. And I am so glad that I’m not waking up this morning as a working member of the mainstream media, because I would have even more to be ashamed of.
What all this has taught me is, it’s time for all of us to stop consciously or subconsciously looking into the nitty gritty of someone else’s beliefs, before we decide if their trials and challenges are worth caring about.
Look, I don’t support socially conservative values any more than I ever did. What all this has taught me is, it’s time for all of us to stop consciously or subconsciously looking into the nitty gritty of someone else’s beliefs, before we decide if their trials and challenges are worth caring about. Particularly me, because that’s what I’ve spent this campaign accusing my opponents of doing.
Everyone’s hard times are worth caring about. Even/especially our political opponents. I think and fear and worry we’re about to find that out with greater clarity than ever before.
If there is any comfort or hope I have, it’s that historically out of great division, great anger, great despair has come great leadership.
The kind of conditions that exist today in first world countries and developing countries, in peaceful countries and countries at war, are the kinds of conditions that brought us the wisdom of Reverend King, of Jesus Christ, of Bishop Tutu, of Aung San Suu Kyi.
I don’t know what the next months and years hold, but conditions are right for new thinking, new ideas and a new story, and today I’m choosing to focus on that.