I didn’t know if I would publish this, and I’m a day late, but here I am anyway. I’m worrying what people will think, but nothing changes. Deep breath…
As many people have been, I’ve spent the last week or so mulling over the results of the US election and thinking about how things are a little out of sorts (massive understatement I know) the world over; politically, religiously, environmentally.
My blogging and writing doesn’t normally stray into those kinds of arenas, which is probably where my reticence to write about all this come from. But as I pondered away two things have kept coming back to me.
Firstly, it’s not so much the result that bothers me (although it is shocking) as that there is so much conflict, and name calling or labelling, between each camp(supporters or officials). Much as there was and still is between the Leave and Remain campaigns for the EU referendum. This leaves me feeling uneasy.
Isn’t democracy and the fundamental right of an individual to express their opinion (whether you agree with it or not) through voting in an election or referendum something we should be upholding? I’d much rather a democracy that I disagreed with than a dictatorship I wasn’t allowed to disagree with.
In that context, the anger and outrage against the result feels more like being a sore loser. The results of both the mentioned contests were very close and perhaps that is where this stems from. But maybe the Democrats and the Remain campaigns didn’t do a good enough job of influencing, winning people over to their point of view?
And here’s the second point – when I thought about how people were referring to the opposing side all I think of was some of the language being used felt like being in the school playground. The social media bubbles that we exist in usually validates our existing stance rather than challenge it, so it can start to get a little egged on as it were. That’s not persuading others.
I voted to leave the EU at the referendum in June, because I believe that the machination of the European government is far too large and clunky to achieve positive results and economically the needs of different areas of Europe are too diverse. For me immigration had nothing to do with it because the world is more than the EU; we have people here from all over the globe.
But I have been afraid to say so publically because of the negativity I perceived in my social bubble towards Brexit voters. Not directed at individuals, but implicitly indicating stupidity and ignorance among all people who had a different opinion. It’s the language that gets used. Whatever anyone thinks we should always respect others.
I am ashamed of people who think treating women or people from different cultural backgrounds in a demeaning manner is acceptable but I am also ashamed of those who effectively make others viewpoints invalid. Certainly, which ever ‘side’ anyone is on, they should never believe that theirs is perfect and the other not.
It remains to be seen what will be made of the Brexit vote and what Trump will do with his presidency, but I believe that vilifying the opposition is only going to result in alienating them rather than winning them over to alternative opinions.
And herein my thinking brought me to consider how I deal with conflict between my children, between them and myself or them and other children. Name-calling has never been something I tolerate as a parent. Fights that turn forceful or physical aren’t either and just screaming at each other is something I try to help my children move away from.
Now none of us are perfect, myself included. I know I can often behave like a child. Have we here begun exhibiting childlike behaviour on a national/international level? If someone has a different view point we should be happy to engage in a discussion and debate with them to try to sway their opinion not criticise them.
As a parent I encourage conversation, listening to others, empathy and kindness. I know if I want them to do something – telling them not to do something will perversely make them do it. They react so much more positively if I clearly explain my reasoning for doing things. They are able to see another point off view, find common ground.
I know this is all rather simplistic but surely we can learn much from how we help children through conflict? The world over we have many problems to solve, can we not dig deep for our empathy to try to overcome them?
Please do not attack me if you perceive my political knowledge to be naïve – I do not pretend that I am political animal, nor am I highly educated in all the philosophical vocabulary that I see banded around. (I have yet to reach an adequate understanding of neoliberalism and if it can’t be easily explained then is it a worthwhile concept?)
Alternative opinions, debate and attempts to educate welcome, but don’t hate me.