By Ingrid Sapona
I’d be lying if I said that the only thing I’ve been able to
think about this past week has been the U.S. election. Actually, since the
results came in, I’ve tried very hard to not think about it. Oddly, it’s been
pretty easy to put it out of my mind.
Indeed, in conversations with friends, the topic of
president elect Trump has barely come up. Other than commenting on some tidbit
from a passing news story – like the fact that Trump was surprised when his
meeting with Obama went longer than 10 minutes – none of my friends have had
much to say. I’ve been thinking about why that is and I think the answer is not
that we’re all in denial – it’s that folks outside the U.S. are simply dumbstruck.
Well, dumbstruck and scared.
The truth is, for me, the election result represents the
mere tip of the iceberg of concerns I have about the U.S.’s future. Even if
Hilary had won, for a couple years now I’ve been concerned that the U.S. is on a
path toward self-destruction that no leader may be able to alter. I’ve found it
interesting that the pundits and pollsters who were so wrong about the likely
outcome of the election are now all focused on the election as an example of the
peaceful transition of power. While that outcome seems likely, by making that
the focus, everyone again is overlooking the real issues.
The most disturbing thing to come out of the campaign is
what I think of as the normalization of hate. Whether the hatred takes the form
of misogyny, or bigotry, or discrimination, or homophobia, or xenophobia, or
any other name or label people put on it – it’s hatred all the same. Under the
guise of overturning political correctness – or the virtue of honesty – or even
just exercising free speech, it’s become perfectly acceptable in the U.S. to give
voice to hatred.
I know that hatred is nothing new, but when those seeking
power – or in power – incite hatred, as Donald Trump certainly did, it’s not
just those who are the object of the hatred that are at risk – civil society is
in jeopardy. And, when you combine the ratcheting up of open hatred with the
fact that there are as many guns in the U.S. as there are people, I think the
future in the U.S. looks bleak.
As you know, writing On being… helps me sort through my
thoughts on topics and issues that are nagging at me. Usually, by the end I’ve uncovered
a more positive perspective that I may have missed in my initial reaction. But,
I’m afraid this On being… has not served that purpose. Sadly, the only shred of
hope I have is that time will prove my fears for the U.S. unfounded.