On being … pessimistic

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.

© 2016 Ingrid Sapona


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