Thursday, November 10, 2016

End Result versus Process

        Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the United States of America earlier this week, and in the past two days, I have seen many reactions ranging anywhere from fear and shock to delight to sadness. From mourning to gloating to protesting. More than ever, Americans are divided and the extreme ends appear to be pulling even further apart. I, too, have had many emotions this week, and underneath it all, something kept nagging at me. I mean I was both stunned yet not when Trump won the election because I have feared that our country was headed towards something like this. After all, it was a rough election year, and too many people expressed frustration and hatred towards the political world to which Clinton belongs. Furthermore, more and more people popped up with racist and sexist rhetoric or actions this year. A country controlled by a police state and/or a religious right, that is what I have worried about. And, I’m not talking about being concerned about a country that loves God, but about a country that hates God or that abuses His name. For instance, check out these novels: It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, 1984 by George Orwell, or The Hunger Game series. And read this entire essay along with all of its links. 
          In the past two days, many of those on the “winning” side have been telling the country to get over it and move on, despite those who threw temper tantrums (and even spouted racist rhetoric over the past eight years). We just need some time to mourn. Also, we ask that those who voted for Trump attempt to understand our concerns (see above paragraph for some of mine). I know people who voted for Trump, and I understand why they thought they needed to even if I don’t agree with them; I ask for the same consideration from them. 
In the past two days, I have seen those on the “losing” side split into two camps. One camp consists of those who are protesting and/or throwing a fit. Peaceful protest is a right in this country and taking positive action is something that should be happening; however, violent protests, riots, destruction of property, and hateful words are not acceptable. For instance, check out this list of organizationsFind a positive way to create action and change through civic engagement and responsible citizenship. The other camp is inspiring, and many of my friends are in this camp. They are mourning, yes, but they are also calling for positive action, calling for our country to come together, calling for us to use our talents/words/creativity to express ourselves. I applaud them and am proud to call them friend.
Donald Trump is the president elect, and as Americans, we must either honor this fact or find non-violent ways to protest it. Either way, something else has been bothering me for the past two days. What concerns me is this: What lesson have we taught our children from this election? What lesson are we saying is just fine and dandy for our country, for America, and thus, for the world?
First let’s consider the absolute best scenario in the situation we have in front of us. In fact, many have called for everyone to come together and work with Donald Trump, so let’s say we do so. Trump was elected as the next president, and let’s say he takes office with everyone’s support and in the end our fears are unfounded. Trump becomes a wonderful president and does amazing things and in reality Makes America Great Again. Let’s say that happens. Yes, you say. I’d be happy with that, you think. Wait a minute…you are forgetting a very important point. Even if that happens, Trump should not have been elected because of his actions and words!!!!
If I ranted and raved and publicly spouted racist and sexist comments for months, mocked a disabled person, dishonored a veteran, and so on, I would never be hired by a college in the United States again. I just wouldn’t. In fact, I would lose whatever teaching jobs I currently hold. What about you?! Imagine that you did and said the same things that Trump has done and said over the past year. How would your work life be looking?!
A lesson this election result teaches is that the end justifies the means.
Might makes right.
In fact, I have heard people say that Trump was doing those things in order to get attention in order to market himself and win votes. Whether he did so because that’s what he believes or as a publicity stunt doesn’t matter. The fact is that he did them.
And, as I have been reminded recently, many believe that Clinton has done some terrible things too, but that misses my point. It’s true that no human being is perfect, but this goes beyond that and into reprehensible words and actions in full view of the public. Maybe we need a complete overhaul of the process of running for, voting for, becoming president (though we should carefully consider that and research why our Founding Fathers set up the electoral college the way they did before we move to revamp it)? Or perhaps what we need is better options to choose from?
Regardless, let's consider these questions:
Do we teach our children that the end result is all that matters?! That it’s okay to cheat as long as they get an A in the class or win the game? That it’s okay to plagiarize someone else’s work as long as they get a good grade? That it’s okay to make fun of someone if it will help them be class president? That it’s okay to kick the kitten or puppy or to bully others if it will help them be popular in school? 
To the contrary. I have watched friends and family raise their kids, and I know that many of you teach your children similar ideas that I teach my daughters: to work hard, to do their best, to take responsibility for their words and actions, to be compassionate and kind, to support/build rather than compete/tear down, and to be the change they want to see in this world. 
Furthermore, I teach process in college composition classes, and the students hate it. They hate that we spend weeks writing and revising and editing the same essay, but it’s that process that teaches them so much and that helps them end up with not only a stronger paper but also pride in the fact that they did it!
It’s process and practice that helps anyone be good at anything.
I don’t want the world I live in to be one where might makes right and where the end result is all that matters. And that is one of the reasons that I have been upset about the results of this election.

I wrote the above and left to go to meet my family to watch my nieces and nephews sing in their Fall Program. And, I returned home feeling better because I was reminded of unity and community in our daily lives. I saw a town come together: we stood and sang the national anthem with the children, and we applauded veterans from all branches for their service. At the end, the children sang lyrics that brought tears to my eyes and that reminded me of what’s important now. First graders of Houston, Missouri sang, “United we stand, divided we fall,” and they poured their hearts into it. Tonight reminds me of the importance of discourse and community and of the significance of the things we are doing in our daily lives such as how we raise our children and the values we instill in them. Tonight leaves me with hope for our families, hope for our communities, hope for our country.
God bless America, land that I love.

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