(This was originally posted on Odyssey Online)
You’re either jumping for joy or having a nervous breakdown. Take a breath. Count to 10. Here’s how to not be a terrible American.
The final count is in and Trump won. You are either elated or beside yourself. As we move on from election day to the next four years, let’s think about the way to be the best Americans we can be. Lashing out at the opposition, spreading hatred and further dividing our country is not going to help you, me or our country.
I had a chance to spend a little time with Mindy Tucker Fletcher recently. She was George W. Bush’s press secretary during his initial race to become president and then returned to help him win his second term. She made a very poignant comment to me. She said, “People who have never met him say horrible things about him. They talk about their hate for him and they have never met him. I worked alongside him. I know what a good person he is.” She posed how can we say such terrible things about people we don’t truly know. I hope as we go forward, we work on developing our rhetoric and looking at the important issues rather than tearing people apart on a personal level.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you make the transition and not be a totally miserable person to others.
1. Get involved locally.
If you aren’t aware, local leaders have more of an influence over your life than the president. Make sure your local leaders are working to bring about the kind of change you want to see. Find an organization to get plugged into like Junior Achievement, Boys and Girls Club, etc. Get involved in local politics – join a committee, run for an office. Instead of complaining about what will come about in our country, help influence the future it in a positive way.
2. Know your WHY.
Arguing for arguing sake is one of the most idiotic things you can do. In Aristotle’s era, arguing was known as rhetoric and it was purposeful. Not only were they educated on the topics they were discussing (fully educated — they didn’t just read a partisan publication, they did research) but they had a reason for initiating the conversation. They wanted to have an open dialogue. They wanted to see the other person’s argument. The goal is not to agree but to reach a consensus. Have a core set of values, have an intention, have the education on the topic and have the grace to discuss it respectfully. Rhetoric should not be about winning. If you are arguing to win, you’re doing it wrong.
3. Be logical.
I have read some of the most asinine comments during this election. The most illogical, untrue comments and arguments have ensued typically on the internet for all to see. Look up fallacies. All types of fallacies. Deflecting an argument with an unrelated argument just makes you look dumb and doesn’t help your discussion. Know what you’re talking about. Stay focused on what you’re trying to say in a logical way.
4. Respect each other.
This might be shocking but you can still respect someone even if you don’t agree with them. Degrading someone personally for their beliefs is just about the lowest form of unintelligence. Even if you don’t agree on a political stance, you can still agree to love and respect one another. I have differing opinions of views from many of my friends and family but that does not mean I will treat them any differently. It is the USA. We were founded on a principle of freedom from oppression, freedom of speech and freedom of choice. If you are respectful when discussing your opinions, it is far more likely that the person on the other end will be open to at least hearing what you have to say. Disrespectfully forcing an opinion on someone doesn’t work. Shocking again, I know. Respect each other. Do your part to bring this country together, otherwise you are becoming part of the problem.
The decision is done. There are positive ways to contribute to society. Huffing, puffing and blowing the house down aren’t it. It’s also not the end of the world as much as you’d like to say it is. Thankfully, we have checks and balances in our government to keep things somewhat functional. Take a breath. It will all be okay.