Polarization is Not the Path

The following post was written the morning after Election 2016:

Last night, many of us sat in stunned silence, aware of the magnitude of this result. Now, and in the weeks (months, years) ahead, we have to radically accept that this was caused. And, if we want to change the deeply distressing course that we’re on, we have to address the causes.

The divide in our country (in our world) is real and it’s not going away anytime soon. We cannot ignore misery and expect unity. We cannot destroy education and expect critical thinking. We cannot “unfriend” those we disagree with and assume they, and their kind, have gone away. We cannot read only the things that we already believe and assume that everyone out there thinks like us. We cannot shame anyone into adopting our social agenda, no matter how strongly we believe that it is right.

We have to listen to understand, not to refute. We have to work wisely (again, still) for what we value. We have to allow others to teach us. We have to look for the grain of validity in a bucket of stuff we vehemently disagree with. We have to allow others the respect and space to change their minds without losing face. We have to be willing to change ours. We have to own when we are wrong. We have to cultivate hope and compassion for all, no matter how downright exhausted and threatened we feel. We have to tolerate the deep distress of not knowing how much of our progress will be dismantled, where we will go from here.

I have no idea what will come, but I feel certain that, as reassuring as it might feel to devolve into an ever-increasing “us versus them” mentality, it’s a small planet. Separation is an illusion. It is all us. Further polarization is not the path.