There are a wide variety of reactions to our recent presidential election, and they vary even within people who voted the same way (or didn’t vote at all). However, there seems to be a cross-section of people across voting decisions that urge: “Let’s talk about this. Let’s listen to each other. Then let’s move past it.”
I’m all about having authentic relationships with people and trying to understand others’ perspectives and experiences.
But I don’t have to be ready to talk right now. In no situation do I have to rush my own process of grief, anger, and reflection, and I certainly do not have to do that in this situation. My country elected a man who says terrible and abusive things about countless groups of people and encourages people to commit hate crimes. I am deeply upset and seriously concerned. I don’t have to be immediately ready for a civil conversation with you about that. That conversation would not be about our disagreement over one policy issue or another. It would be a heartbreaking disagreement over basic moral and ethical issues. And I’m not ready for that.
Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting…
In 2006, the country music band Dixie Chicks released a song, “Not Ready to Make Nice.” They released it as a response to the uproar caused by comments they had made in 2003 about then-president George W. Bush. Whatever your feelings about what they said, the reaction from their country music base was completely out of proportion. Those reactions ranged from radio stations banning their music to people burning their CDs to people sending them death threats. (In the song, lead singer Natalie Maines describes one threat: “How in the world/Can the words that I said/Send somebody so over the edge/That they’d write me a letter/Saying that I better shut up and sing/Or my life will be over”).
Reading and hearing from people that are urging immediate dialogue and understanding about this extremely difficult election, the Dixie Chicks’ song has been coming to mind…
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as h— and I don’t have time
To go round and round and round
I’m allowed to be upset. I’m allowed to choose not to dialogue with people of opposing views right now. You don’t get to decide how I feel or the choices that I make. Honestly, people trying to force me to feel or act in a certain way brings up memories of other times when they wanted to me to be a certain way in order to make them feel better–like when people told me it was time to get over my dad’s death or that I should just be happy for people getting married even when those situations involved both great personal pain and frustrating public degradation.
I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it
No one can tell you how to feel or decide when you’re ready to be “less emotional” about something. And I am not ready to “get over” the fact that nearly half of the voting public supported a man who degrades the worth of human beings again and again and again and again.
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
Cause I’m mad as h—, can’t bring myself
To do what it is you think I should
Does choosing not to dialogue mean being unkind or making fun or not interacting with people at all? No. I also plan to continue to be kind and try to be sensitive and to interact with people as people regardless of how we may agree or disagree. Because I disagree with people All. The. Time. and continue to live and work alongside them and be friends with them. But that doesn’t mean I hash out every disagreement with every single one of them. That would be exhausting, impractical, and most of the time, fruitless.
If you choose to broach the election with people of opposing views, you’re just as free to choose to do that as I am free to choose not to. I truly hope you have meaningful discussions that are eye-opening for you and for the people with whom you talk. Maybe someday I’ll join you. But not now.