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Look before you leap

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One of the smartest people I have ever known believes there is no significant difference between thinking and feeling.

I strongly disagree with this. It may be true for some tiny minority of humans–those whom Anne Rice has a character refer to in Interview with the Vampire as “detached persons in whom emotion and will are one.” But for nearly all humans, I think that emotion and thought can be distinguished by something that can direct the latter but not the former: reason.

You are experiencing the emotions of anger and fear as a result of the 2016 election. I understand that. Experience them, process them, express them, work through them. 

But PLEASE don’t act on them. Let them motivate you if it helps, but act on reason. THINK about what you’re going to do. UNDERSTAND the other side’s viewpoint. KNOW what the likely consequences of your potential actions are. DECIDE whether those consequences are worth whatever price you and others may have to pay.

Acting on emotion–primarily anger and fear, also hatred–is what brought many to vote for Trump. Meanwhile, many of us on the left bemoaned the right’s unwillingness to look at facts, to reason, to consider consequences. Let’s not follow in those footsteps.

Where do we go from here?

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I can speak only for myself, but I invite anyone like-minded to be part of “we.”

We pull up our big-girl and big-boy pants, we put on our ass-kicking boots, and we stand up for what we have always stood up for, though now we may feel more threatened in doing so. Those of us who are white put ourselves on the line, in danger if necessary and we have the courage, to protect the lives and the rights of people of color. (I can’t speak for those who aren’t white, and too many of them already have to do this every day.) We risk being uncomfortable, being outside our comfort zone, to step up, in whatever way we can, when someone is mistreated or bullied or harassed.

We don’t let friends or relatives or neighbors or coworkers go unchallenged when they repeat lies and bigotry. This is not the time for peace at any cost, for not losing friends over politics. If a “friend” supports policies that endanger those we care about, that person is not a friend. If we have to, we say that we respect the bond of family, but we can no longer appear to support (have contact with, communicate with, etc.) someone who cares so little about others’ welfare.

We donate what we can to the ACLU, because it stands for everyone’s rights, which is the only way anyone is safe.

We smile at and are pleasant and respectful to those in service industries. We nod to people on the street, or say “Good morning,” whatever their race, ethnicity, or gender. We open doors for everyone, and we say “thanks” enthusiastically when they open doors for us. We don’t take out our frustration with company or organizational policies on people who have no control over them. We give what we can, when we can, to help others. We pay attention to the human beings around us, and make their lives better when we can, if only for a moment. In a country that at the moment seems overrun with assholes, we aren’t among them.

This country has survived a Civil War, numerous other wars, the Great Depression, numerous other depressions and recessions, an era of lynchings, protesting students shot by their own government, corruption in high places, presidents who were inept or dishonest or maybe even evil, and more. It will survive this. But some of its people might not, and that’s where we must look.

And we must look to two years from now, when those who voted him in have had a chance to see what Trump has done. We can sign up for campaigns, we can donate if possible, to take back seats in the House and Senate.

There is work to be done.

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