Twitter was all a-twitter on election night.

One guy wrote this:

“Go Obama! Now don’t f*@# up!”

This line has haunted me over and over again these past two days as I’ve listened to the people in my life, and as I’ve taken in their stories.

———–
The morning after the election, a little girl I know went to her classroom to find two of her classmates at the chalkboard. The teacher wasn’t there yet. And the two boys had written: “Today’s Lesson: Kill Obama” in bold letters.

———–
The day after the election, I told a friend on the phone about my excitement. She paused.  She said she wasn’t excited.  She had voted for McCain.

My stomach churned. I was tempted – as I’m sure she was – to hang up the phone and stop further communication with her.  But I remembered how awful I felt after the election 4 years ago, so I took a deep breath and listened.

I didn’t agree with anything she said. And she didn’t agree with anything I said.  We didn’t argue. We just shared our thoughts.  (I’m not much of a debater. If I were at a podium trying to do it, I’d probably wink.)  It was intensely awkward.  And we took the conversation in a different direction, agreeing to let it go.

I know people who would tell me never to speak with this person again. But that would make me sad. I adore her.  I learn a lot from her. She learns from me too.

———-
My husband received an email from a friend of his yesterday.  His friend wrote that while he would love to celebrate the victory – it was pretty hard to be a gay man and recognize that not one, but three states voted against his rights.  He was embarrassed to be sad among all the happy people – but that’s just how he felt.

———-
Today, I was talking to a man about not giving in to all of the divisiveness that the campaigns brought out. He said, “Well we’ve had 8 years of their sh–.  Now we get to give it back to them.”

———-
I’m a little more mellow today.  If you ask me, the Tweeter missed the point entirely.

His attitude is exactly what keeps us in our rut — thinking that regardless of what we do or how we show up, we are entitled.  That it doesn’t matter how we act or react, or how negative and mean we are. That it’s all up to someone else. “I’ve done my part. I voted. Now, you fix this mess. I’m gonna go back and watch Family Guy.”

After all didn’t Gandhi tell us to BE the change we wish to see in the world? Doesn’t that mean that we have opportunity after opportunity to decide to end the anger and derisiveness, no matter who “started it,” and in spite of how uncomfortable we feel?

If that’ so, then each of us is the President-elect.  Each of us is a leader.

Perhaps we should each be tweeting his message – albeit more positively – to ourselves.

30 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • McKenzie

    When I was at Portland State I taught a class called Participating in Democracy. We talked about the fact that democracy is both a noun and a verb, and that to achieve it requires effort on our parts. Extraordinary, really, the extent to which people expect that any one person could jump into the presidency and make significant changes in four short years. And that somehow we are then absolved of all responsibility other than to have voted for him/her, or not.
    So thank you, Christine, for opening this up for us to talk about.
    All the best to you.

  • Tracy

    Bravo.
    You are so right on with this. The whole idea of “us vs. them” has been the hardest thing of all for me during this election. Even from family members, like it’s some big game.
    I’m trying to break the chain. Freedom!

  • Tess

    Damn! Damn, damn damn! I found your site through Mind Sieve, one of my regulars. I really don’t have time to read another blogger, but Christine, you are good, good, good. Gonna have to add you to my Google Reader!
    I thought this post was excellent. I’m from the UK, so clearly didn’t vote, but there was a feeling this was our election also.
    I see you quote Seth Godin in a previous post. I’ve just finished his latest book, “Tribes” in which he exhorts all of us to get out there and lead. Absolutely right, and links in with your post title and what you say about the Tweeter.

  • chrissy

    Christine, Wonderful post, thank you. I had similar experiences. Just last night, I was at a convenience store and asked the cashier what he thought of the election. I was still oozing with joy, and want to share it with everyone I meet. He shrugged and said that “they are all the same”. The man behind me said, “you like Obama?” I said, “Yes.” He began ranting how he was the anti-Christ and his destiny was to end the world through nuclear war. I was a little scared but I listened and told him how I respected his opinion and I agreed that this is a scary time. I asked him to please pray for peace instead of talking about the end of the world. Interestingly, I had just come from an incredible meeting with 2 very successful artists who I had just met and agreed to help me with a book I have been working on for years. I felt like the election opened doors for artists, writers and I was going to step up and contribute. This meeting I had was a huge break. In a matter of an hour I had gone from an awesome brainstorm session with brilliant artists to a very intensely afraid man who’s world was rocked in a really bad way by the election.

  • ChickiePam

    Hi Christine,
    As you know, I’ve been though a place a great personal challenge lately. When discussion was about the election (before the election) my comment was always that my attention had been elsewhere for some months and that I’m not a very politically active (or savvy) person anyway. I really did not know much about the issues and had no clear idea of who I would vote for when the time came to do so. But I felt like my place in the election was to hold space. So that is what I have been doing. I have held space for the highest good of our country. Did I vote? Yes. Won’t talk about it beyond that. I’m still holding space for what is perfect and right and good for our entire country. I know in my heart that the elections are a result of that knowing. And that’s all I need to know. As I heal and am able to have energy for things like politics, I will still most likely stay out of the debates and continue to hold space. SOMEBODY has to do it!

    Pam

  • Sunrise Sister

    What a wonderful post and responses to it! I believe we are required to be the peacemakers in our own day to day lives. We have to listen to each other.
    We cannot let political opinions keep us from loving our neighbors or from supporting inclusion of all races and religions in our lives. It would be easier to just lock ourselves away and ignore the “rest” of the world – but I don’t think “easy” is our “assignment.” Thanks for the post!

  • trista

    I’m still shocked by the magnitude of emotions post-election. This only highlights how much all of us want and need a change.

    The worst thing we can do is expect one man to be responsibile for all of it.

    Obama enforced the idea that this election and all ensuing change is about the people, that it starts with us. He is wonderful at inspiring and empowering individuals…. but we’ve forgotten and/or never knew what empowerment is, don’t have any frame of reference. We’ve been taught and got away with handing over responsibility to someone else (gov’t, corporate entities, etc). As we relearn about our own power, hopefully we will have a few that can show us what authentic empowerment for the good of all looks like.

  • Allison

    I wish some of my so-called friends would read this blog. I am a conservative living in a liberal area and it is pretty much second nature for me to love and respect my friends who disagree wildly with me politically. How do I do it? By keeping my mouth shut. I made the mistake of telling a couple of friends that I’d voted for Bush in the last election (because, for me, national security trumped the environment) and after several months of getting the cold shoulder, I accepted that I’d lost two friends. I voted for McCain this time around and am expecting to lose a few more friends. It’s too bad because, when politics are not being discussed, I much prefer the company of liberal-minded people.

  • Sue

    I think the moment we stop being able to respect, listen to, and befriend people with different views is the moment we stop growing. If we were all the same this would be a damn boring place to exist.

  • Angela

    I think this post on Obama links in so well with your last post where you made a point about waiting to be rescued. I think a lot of people want to be rescued by Obama – they want the change to happen without them having to go through the difficulties that are inherent in any change that leads to growth. That’s why I loved Obama’s acceptance speech the night of the election – he intentionally made the point about people’s own power putting him there – I can’t remember the exact words but it was in terms of people themselves being responsible for the change – owning their own power. I’m not american, I’m english and living in Canada but there’s something about Obama that really inspires me to be a better human being – as others have said, to be the change we want to see in the world. It’s only by everyone doing that, that change will happen – when we stop wanting to be rescued and do the work that grows each of us and the communities we live in.

  • Sara

    I totally agree that we have all been elected, and as such, we have jobs we must do now! And one of the biggest jobs is outreach — outreach that includes everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike. It may be easier for Democrats now because of the election; but that doesn’t give us permission to gloat!

  • Jeanie

    My husband, who is a conservative-leaning veteran, is American and after 18 months of reflection, decided to vote for Obama. I (a liberal) am on the road to citizenship, and was on the edge of my seat. After the last 8 years, I was desperately hoping that Americans would show the courage to take a chance on someone relatively unknown. So yes… I am excited. And it gives me hope for my former country, which also has a dreadful past of racial hatred. Maybe they too will be willing to change. But I have to admit… I also feel a little off balance. Now that President Bush is on the way out, who will I complain about? Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to stop complaining altogether, and encourage others around me to do the same *wink*

  • Girl Who Cried Epiphany

    Working at a super-liberal liberal arts school and reading loads of posts by like minded people who are full of bliss and hope and the recognition that we need to step up even more that our candidate has been elected has made this a phenomenally inspiring week. It is such a relief to walk around feeling supported by a vast community of people looking eagerly toward a future full of possibility. Finally we can shake our prized victim status and stop feeling oppressed by the rulers of the red states (or so we think).

    At the same time, it will be a rough road because as you, Christine, and many who commented have pointed out, there is still a great deal of opposition to this new vision, whether you “voted for change” or not. That sense of entitlement that lets us believe we can act like creeps in our personal lives but that such behavior will lead to peace and prosperity on a national scale endures in a frightful way.

    “Be the change.” So pure and simple and true. But how terrifying because it leaves us nowhere to hide, leaves us no heroes on white horses to act as saviors.

  • Jannie Funster

    I think Michael Jackson said it very well with “I’m Starting with the man in the mirror.”

    Amen.

  • Usiku

    I was trying to find a way to leave a comment for the post found on Mixonian.blogspot.com labelled, Christine’s #1 Favorite “No-Big-Deal” Creativity Tip

    I enjoyed the post and have had similar encounters with those claiming no creativity.

    Creativity in some form comes naturally to each of us because it is a naturally occurring event (not a phenomenon) in the Universe and why the Universe exists at all. Creativity is the blood and breath of all we know.

  • Stacey

    I posted Alice Walker’s open letter to Barack Obama at my blog and I highly recommend everyone read it – the upshot is that Obama didn’t create all of our problems and we don’t expect him to fix them – if they get fixed it will be because we *all* work together. I loved so much in Obama’s acceptance speech how he said he knew he didn’t get a lot people’s votes, but that he needs their help, too, and he would look forward to listening to them and learning from them. I thought that was so amazing. The other thing I loved about Walker’s letter is that she said that she hoped he would make much time for joy in his life – especially by spending time with his beautiful wife and daughters – and it will be from that place of joy that more problems will be solved. Isn’t that what you talk about so much, Christine? Our place of power is in our JOY.

  • Ari Koinuma

    An eloquent post. I have always advocated that the greatest contribution you can make to the world is to live your life inline with your values. A close second is to raise good kids.

    That’s not all, but that’s the STARTING point. Take care of those before you go aspire for something else, and you’ll have authority and confidence to do ANYTHING.

    ari

  • Mark Baker-Wright

    Thanks for sharing this. As I was writing on my own blog a couple of days ago, I’ve come into the post-election era happy about the results, but a bit fearful about reactions from the extreme right-wing, and from members of my own family, several of which could be counted within that former group. I’m not especially looking forward, for example, to Thanksgiving conversations.

    The attitude you demonstrate here is one I would like to model. I just hope that I can continue to do so, even and especially when it’s not reciprocated.

  • BarbV

    One of the reasons I voted for Obama is because he says we need to step up and do this too. It was so refreshing to hear a politician say this is your country and you need to make this work too. I have felt for the last 8 years that we were told to live our lives and let government take care of things, we don’t need to know or be involved.
    I truly feel that Obama believes in grassroots, bottom up change. I don’t expect him to solve all our problems, I do expect him to make mistakes I want someone who will communicate to us and ask us to help him change this country and maybe even the world.

  • Irene

    Good morning Christine,
    Here is a hug for you.
    I am not american however I can say that many parts of my country celebrated Mr. Obama. I know that healing is needed all over the world. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately in regards to all the changes taking place. It brought it home since recently we had our own election. People felt the uncertainty and made the choice of voting in a minority goverment. We are all leaders and the choices we make even as it may seem little has an effect.
    By having a difference of opinion does not mean to stop talking. As I read your post I kept thinking about my resolve to be open, live in the moment and start again if I complain. My hope for all of you is that you will be surprise, see changes, and grow. This is an incredible transition WE the whole world is going thru. What we make of it is entirely up to us. We can choose to be positive or negative but at the end we are left with our own results. One person at a time can make a difference since then we are slowly joining our leadership together.
    Thank you for thoughts.

  • Sarah

    Christine,

    YES! The power of Obama is not only in the moving (I have found myself weeping more than once just thinking about it) historical moment of the first african american president (who will be inaugurated the day after MLK Day next January…!) – it is also about each and every one of us having the opportunity to recognize the power of the the energy of HOPE and using that energy to work *together* to save each other and the planet!

    Some of the people who are still hurting (I, too, remember the pain – still pinching myself) will see this and join in. This awareness will grow, I am convinced, because of people like you, Christine, helping us to be our true compassionate selves. THANK YOU! 🙂

  • Kriss

    My fifteen year old son says, “We win either way. They are both GOOD men.”

    Yes…I am proud.

  • Aimee

    Obama’s own speech was about how this was the START of the hard work. That he was going to work to earn the respect of the people that didn’t vote for him. And McCain said that Obama was his president and his voters should support him.

    It shocks me how many people on either side missed these “tiny” little facts. Are we so against unification, even agreeing to disagree, that we have to get petty and say “yeah, screw you, 48%-ers!” It’s ridiculous. T

    he only people I’ve gotten indignant on were the serious sour grape faces, the ones saying “Welcome to Socialism” or “Obama’s Last Day: January 20, 2012!” They’re not even going to TRY to make it better, to make their voice heard even if it’s not the majority voice. And yet there’s no respect for the fact that that’s how the other side felt for 8 years!

    I hope it comes around. I hope Obama proves us right. If nothing else, it’ll be something new for the country, and I’ve already seen beautiful unification on the side for him, across party, racial, and gender lines. I hope THAT sticks, because that’s the kind of America I want to fight for.

  • Tracy

    I guess I have had to have quite a bit of practice at this very thing over the last 10 years. I am a devoted Democrat living in a county in Illinois that is very republican, socially conservative, pro guns and pretty staunchly Christian. A heck of a place for a liberal Unitarian! Over my years in this community, I find myself in many social situations and groups that include members from both ends of the political and religious continuum.

    It has been the perfect life teacher for me. Instead of talking about inclusion of all people, I get to practice it-every single day with people that I completely disagree with on pretty much all social, political and religious issues. Some days I am much more artful at this than others. I have found our day to day lives aren’t that incredibly different; we are raising families and holding down jobs, participating in our communities, etc. There IS common ground.

    I think that people with views on the left end of the continuum are just as gulity of exclusion as the religious right; we want to include everyone but THEM. I am not supporting the agenda of limiting rights or eliminating the line between church and state, but our agenda has truly got to be about inclusion, on some level,of all people if it is going to be a vehicle of healing. We need to stop the focus on our differences and find some respectful common ground that can begin the healing the incredible divide between people in this country.

    Great post!

    Tracy

  • Mindful Mimi

    Very thoughtful note. Well, I am happy with you. I am not American but my vote would have gone to him. But I agree that one man alone does not make a change. We have already seen though what this election was able to put into gear. So this first gear should be started up slowly towards a shift to second gear and that is a common move.
    If we expect Obama to change things, we will be disappointed. But I think most people got the message that things are possible if we all stick together and keep an open mind – about anything.
    Go Obama.

  • Sandy

    I posted about this the other day. I am somewhat liberal individual in a family full of hardcore republicans. I am so happy about the outcome of the election, but I have to tell you that in a way it is because you.

    Throughout my last year, I have really changed the way I look at the world, largely because of the focus you help give me, and whereas, in my past, I would have been so apprehensive about what was to come, I am now filled with hope. So, the only thing that Omaba told me that he would definitely give me he has already come through with. I respect that more than any empty promises that could have been offered by either party.

    And, I am very grateful that your words have hit home in such a way that it helped me recognize that it happened! So, thank you for everything that you do here.

  • Lance

    Christine, I see the greatness of this election not in being that we elected a Democrat, or had it been McCain – that we elected a Republican. What I see as ultimately cool is that we’ve elected someone of a different race than has happened before. It’s about breaking down barriers. It’s saying that skin color doesn’t matter. It’s saying that sexual orientation doesn’t matter (maybe we’re not here yet, but I do think this takes us a step closer). It’s about saying that being different is ok. Indeed, we’re all different in our own unique ways.

    So, will this man change our world? One person cannot BE the change for everyone. We all have in us the power to do great things, to live awesome lives! Whatever “great” is for us individually (I’m getting off-track here, aren’t I??). I think this one man gives us hope, but it still requires “us” to be the change – as you’ve said so well Christine (and as Gandhi, reminds us). So, I will go out and be the change I desire to see. I will have a great life, and with our new president-elect — we can all take hope in knowing barriers are being broken down, and our world is becoming more open and accepting (at least I like to hope that it is).

  • Christine Kane

    lilalia, thanks for your thoughtful note. i talked on the phone to my friend kathy about the “not being right” and listening to everyone’s thoughts. she said that when you are the victor – then you have to become a bigger leader. which it sounds like you are doing!

    thanks bob. I think that there’s a lot of hurt and anger over what has happened in the last 8 years. so, maybe it’s hard for some people to see that they’re not yet being what obama is all about. that’s why i wrote this post!

  • Bob

    Please don’t forget that 46 percent of the people disagree with the outcome of the election. That is not a small number, albeit a minority. 52 percent is hardly a mandate. So I hope people can, like you, “take a deep breath”, and realize that while Mr. Obama is our President-elect, and deserves respect from all of the electorate, many of us have deep disagreements with his policies. A 52 percent win doesn’t mean that these policies are inherently correct or that he will actually implement them. It just means that he gets a chance to try them. We will see what happens. I am willing to be surprised.

    “I know people who would tell me never to speak with this person again.” Wow, that speaks volumes. Isn’t that the antithesis of what Mr. Obama is supposed to be about?

  • lilalia

    Thank you for the post. If it is not possible for each of us, in moments of celebration or great disappointment to speak to others of different opinions, we haven’t learned the lesson of this election at all. Mr. Obama wasn’t right and Mr. McCain wasn’t wrong. No, the millions of people who participated in getting Mr. Obama voted, whether it was support during the campaign, with donations, or votes… they were what was right. Yet, the work has only started for all of us. I have had a similar long conversation with a friend of mine who feels great disappointment and not happiness with the election results. I dampen my feelings of joyfulness, and lend an ear to her worries. Actually, when sending the Tweeter’s message to myself, I kind of like a message with the swear word in it. It has a punch.

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