Enough is enough!  This is the last one, I promise (maybe!), but I have gotten some good feedback on this one so I thought I would share it with my swog blog friends.  This comes right out of the Harvard Business Review daily blog and it was written shortly after the election last week.  It is long, but I’m putting it into my blog in its entirety instead of posting a link.  The reason?  I really, really want you to read it.

I am giving a shout out to Harvard Business Review.  They have been so adept at sharing perspectives on the election results from articles like the one below to one on why the polls got it so wrong.  I would be remiss if I didn’t put a plug in for them.  If you lead–and again, most of us do even within our own families if not at work– I would highly recommend you subscribe.

Finally, I’m interested in what you’ve heard, read and the themes you feel are important for us to address as Americans going forward.  What thoughts do you have a week later based on what you’ve absorbed?  Let’s continue the dialogue.

What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class
• Joan C. Williams
My father-in-law grew up eating blood soup. He hated it, whether because of the taste or the humiliation, I never knew. His alcoholic father regularly drank up the family wage, and the family was often short on food money. They were evicted from apartment after apartment.

He dropped out of school in eighth grade to help support the family. Eventually he got a good, steady job he truly hated, as an inspector in a factory that made those machines that measure humidity levels in museums. He tried to open several businesses on the side but none worked, so he kept that job for 38 years. He rose from poverty to a middle-class life: the car, the house, two kids in Catholic school, the wife who worked only part-time. He worked incessantly. He had two jobs in addition to his full-time position, one doing yard work for a local magnate and another hauling trash to the dump.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he read The Wall Street Journal and voted Republican. He was a man before his time: a blue-collar white man who thought the union was a bunch of jokers who took your money and never gave you anything in return. Starting in 1970, many blue-collar whites followed his example. This week, their candidate won the presidency.

For months, the only thing that’s surprised me about Donald Trump is my friends’ astonishment at his success. What’s driving it is the class culture gap.

One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Class migrants (white-collar professionals born to blue-collar families) report that “professional people were generally suspect” and that managers are college kids “who don’t know shit about how to do anything but are full of ideas about how I have to do my job,” said Alfred Lubrano in Limbo. Barbara Ehrenreich recalled in 1990 that her blue-collar dad “could not say the word doctor without the virtual prefix quack. Lawyers were shysters…and professors were without exception phonies.” Annette Lareau found tremendous resentment against teachers, who were perceived as condescending and unhelpful.

Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. “[I] can’t knock anyone for succeeding,” a laborer told her. “There’s a lot of people out there who are wealthy and I’m sure they worked darned hard for every cent they have,” chimed in a receiving clerk. Why the difference? For one thing, most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money. “The main thing is to be independent and give your own orders and not have to take them from anybody else,” a machine operator told Lamont. Owning one’s own business — that’s the goal. That’s another part of Trump’s appeal.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.

Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. “Directness is a working-class norm,” notes Lubrano. As one blue-collar guy told him, “If you have a problem with me, come talk to me. If you have a way you want something done, come talk to me. I don’t like people who play these two-faced games.” Straight talk is seen as requiring manly courage, not being “a total wuss and a wimp,” an electronics technician told Lamont. Of course Trump appeals. Clinton’s clunky admission that she talks one way in public and another in private? Further proof she’s a two-faced phony.

Manly dignity is a big deal for working-class men, and they’re not feeling that they have it. Trump promises a world free of political correctness and a return to an earlier era, when men were men and women knew their place. It’s comfort food for high-school-educated guys who could have been my father-in-law if they’d been born 30 years earlier. Today they feel like losers — or did until they met Trump.

Manly dignity is a big deal for most men. So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men’s wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. Look, I wish manliness worked differently. But most men, like most women, seek to fulfill the ideals they’ve grown up with. For many blue-collar men, all they’re asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal). Trump promises to deliver it.

The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger.

Isn’t what happened to Clinton unfair? Of course it is. It is unfair that she wasn’t a plausible candidate until she was so overqualified she was suddenly unqualified due to past mistakes. It is unfair that Clinton is called a “nasty woman” while Trump is seen as a real man. It’s unfair that Clinton only did so well in the first debate because she wrapped her candidacy in a shimmy of femininity. When she returned to attack mode, it was the right thing for a presidential candidate to do but the wrong thing for a woman to do. The election shows that sexism retains a deeper hold that most imagined. But women don’t stand together: WWC women voted for Trump over Clinton by a whopping 28-point margin — 62% to 34%. If they’d split 50-50, she would have won.

Class trumps gender, and it’s driving American politics. Policy makers of both parties — but particularly Democrats if they are to regain their majorities — need to remember five major points.

Understand That Working Class Means Middle Class, Not Poor
The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor
Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

Progressives have lavished attention on the poor for over a century. That (combined with other factors) led to social programs targeting them. Means-tested programs that help the poor but exclude the middle may keep costs and tax rates lower, but they are a recipe for class conflict. Example: 28.3%of poor families receive child-care subsidies, which are largely nonexistent for the middle class. So my sister-in-law worked full-time for Head Start, providing free child care for poor women while earning so little that she almost couldn’t pay for her own. She resented this, especially the fact that some of the kids’ moms did not work. One arrived late one day to pick up her child, carrying shopping bags from Macy’s. My sister-in-law was livid.

J.D. Vance’s much-heralded Hillbilly Elegy captures this resentment. Hard-living families like that of Vance’s mother live alongside settled families like that of his biological father. While the hard-living succumb to despair, drugs, or alcohol, settled families keep to the straight and narrow, like my parents-in-law, who owned their home and sent both sons to college. To accomplish that, they lived a life of rigorous thrift and self-discipline. Vance’s book passes harsh judgment on his hard-living relatives, which is not uncommon among settled families who kept their nose clean through sheer force of will. This is a second source of resentment against the poor.

Other books that get at this are Hard Living on Clay Street (1972) and Working-Class Heroes (2003).
Understand How Class Divisions Have Translated into Geography
The best advice I’ve seen so far for Democrats is the recommendation that hipsters move to Iowa. Class conflict now closely tracks the urban-rural divide. In the huge red plains between the thin blue coasts, shockingly high numbers of working-class men are unemployed or on disability, fueling a wave of despair deaths in the form of the opioid epidemic.
Vast rural areas are withering away, leaving trails of pain. When did you hear any American politician talk about that? Never.
Jennifer Sherman’s Those Who Work, Those Who Don’t (2009) covers this well.

If You Want to Connect with White Working-Class Voters, Place Economics at the Center
“The white working class is just so stupid. Don’t they realize Republicans just use them every four years, and then screw them?” I have heard some version of this over and over again, and it’s actually a sentiment the WWC agrees with, which is why they rejected the Republican establishment this year. But to them, the Democrats are no better.

Both parties have supported free-trade deals because of the net positive GDP gains, overlooking the blue-collar workers who lost work as jobs left for Mexico or Vietnam. These are precisely the voters in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that Democrats have so long ignored. Excuse me. Who’s stupid?

One key message is that trade deals are far more expensive than we’ve treated them, because sustained job development and training programs need to be counted as part of their costs.

At a deeper level, both parties need an economic program that can deliver middle-class jobs. Republicans have one: Unleash American business. Democrats? They remain obsessed with cultural issues. I fully understand why transgender bathrooms are important, but I also understand why progressives’ obsession with prioritizing cultural issues infuriates many Americans whose chief concerns are economic.

Back when blue-collar voters used to be solidly Democratic (1930–1970), good jobs were at the core of the progressive agenda. A modern industrial policy would follow Germany’s path. (Want really good scissors? Buy German.) Massive funding is needed for community college programs linked with local businesses to train workers for well-paying new economy jobs. Clinton mentioned this approach, along with 600,000 other policy suggestions. She did not stress it.

Avoid the Temptation to Write Off Blue-Collar Resentment as Racism
Economic resentment has fueled racial anxiety that, in some Trump supporters (and Trump himself), bleeds into open racism. But to write off WWC anger as nothing more than racism is intellectual comfort food, and it is dangerous.

National debates about policing are fueling class tensions today in precisely the same way they did in the 1970s, when college kids derided policemen as “pigs.” This is a recipe for class conflict. Being in the police is one of the few good jobs open to Americans without a college education. Police get solid wages, great benefits, and a respected place in their communities. For elites to write them off as racists is a telling example of how, although race- and sex-based insults are no longer acceptable in polite society, class-based insults still are.

I do not defend police who kill citizens for selling cigarettes. But the current demonization of the police underestimates the difficulty of ending police violence against communities of color. Police need to make split-second decisions in life-threatening situations. I don’t. If I had to, I might make some poor decisions too.
Saying this is so unpopular that I risk making myself a pariah among my friends on the left coast. But the biggest risk today for me and other Americans is continued class cluelessness. If we don’t take steps to bridge the class culture gap, when Trump proves unable to bring steel back to Youngstown, Ohio, the consequences could turn dangerous.

Saying this is so unpopular that I risk making myself a pariah among my friends on the left coast. But the biggest risk today for me and other Americans is continued class cluelessness. If we don’t take steps to bridge the class culture gap, when Trump proves unable to bring steel back to Youngstown, Ohio, the consequences could turn dangerous.

In 2010, while on a book tour for Reshaping the Work-Family Debate, I gave a talk about all of this at the Harvard Kennedy School. The woman who ran the speaker series, a major Democratic operative, liked my talk. “You are saying exactly what the Democrats need to hear,” she mused, “and they’ll never listen.” I hope now they will.


Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center of WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

 


OK, well I said I was going to stop commenting on the election, but this is about broadening my/our collective perspectives on how others view this phenomenon.  And since many have compared the recent Brexit situation in the UK with Mr. Trump becoming the American President-Elect, I thought it would help to share this author’s perspectives.  I have another HBR article I may share tomorrow as well, which somewhat serves to complement what you’ll read below.

The author of the below blogpost is Richard Barrett who is Founder and Chairman of the Barrett Values Centre based out of the UK.  I attended a webinar he conducted a few weeks ago and was immensely impressed with his research and ideas on human development.  And, yes, I know the UK would likely be considered Social Capitalists so this article won’t come as a total surprise.  Here are his thoughts in a recent blog post:

Dealing With the Shock of the Brexit & Trump Votes

On the 24th June and the 9th November 2016, approximately half the population of the UK and half the population of USA awoke to the shocking and painful news that their current lifestyle was under threat and their future needs might not be met.

Meanwhile, the other half of the population of the UK and the USA awoke to the joyful and hopeful news that their current lifestyle might improve and their future needs might be met.

The same event in each country triggered fear in one group and hope in another group.
The fear of the first group is that they will not be able to meet their aspirations. The hope of the second group is that they will be able to meet their aspirations. Why this difference? The answer is simple—inequality.

One group was presented with opportunities to evolve and grow so they could take care of their survival, safety and security needs, and the other group, mostly for reasons beyond their control, never got those opportunities. They got left behind. Their life is a daily struggle for survival, safety and security .

The system was stacked against the group that got left behind because those who were able to evolve and grow became the political elites who controlled the policies that enabled them to further enhance their own survival, safety and security. Now, those who benefited from this situation, and took their opportunities, are in shock.

There are three possible reasons for this shock, all of which have to do with fear:

They are afraid that they will no longer be able to manage their current survival, safety and security needs;
They are afraid that they will no longer be able to manage their future survival, safety and security needs;
They cannot make meaning of what happened and have defaulted to their greatest fear. Whenever we cannot make meaning, we always assume the worst. This inbuilt survival mechanism lies at the root of all traumas.
If you are experiencing any of these fears, here is what you can do.

First, try to see the bigger picture; this will help you to understand what happened. If you cannot understand what happened, then you will not be able to give meaning to the situation, and you will live in your greatest fear.

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Second, recognize that this is a transformational moment: an opportunity for you to move beyond “us and them.” The truth is we cannot move forward unless we all move forward together. We must shift our attitude from “What’s in it for me” to “What’s best for the common good.” We must individually and collectively embrace those who got left behind and help them to meet their survival, safety and security needs. Only then, will we all be able to move forward/
We either move forward together, or we don’t move forward at all.

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Third, understand that the world is in turmoil because billions of people on the planet are not able to meet their survival, safety and security needs. We will never find the peace and stability we are all yearning for by focusing on our own needs. We will only find peace when we can embrace empathy and compassion for those who are less well off than ourselves and by doing whatever we can to contribute to the good of the whole.

~~

If you are living in fear, you are part of the problem. When you move beyond fear, you become part of the solution.

For further reading:

Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations

A New Psychology of Human Well-Being

Written by

Richard Barrett
Chairman and Founder at Barrett Values Centre

 


I do want to bring my commentary on the election to a close but I do not want to stop the dialogue on the valuable lessons we must learn from the experience.  So, let the discussion continue!

I couldn’t help but wind down the topic with a special post that Richard Rohr put on his blog last Friday morning.  You will find it below.

Rebuilding from the Bottom Up: A Reflection following the Election

Friday, November 11, 2016
Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
Beside the streams of Babylon, we sat and wept, trying to remember Mount Zion. —Psalm 137:1

Every four years a significant portion of the United States is disappointed with the outcome of our national election. Still, this election has felt different. There was a palpable fear and anger leading up to Election Day, and for many it has grown even stronger.

This fear is felt deeply by those who are most vulnerable in our country. As a follower of both Jesus and Francis, my primary moral viewpoint is not based in the wellbeing of those who are on top but first in those who are at the bottom.

For the vulnerable who have now been rendered more vulnerable, I lament and pray and promise to stand with you.

A time of national introspection must begin with self-introspection. Without our own inner searching, any of our quests for solutions and policy fixes will be based in shifting sands.

I suspect that we get the leaders who mirror what we have become as a nation. They are our shadow self for all to see. That is what the Jewish prophets told Israel both before and during their painful and long Exile (596-538 BC).

Yet Exile was the very time when the Jewish people went deep and discovered their prophetic voices—Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others—speaking truth to power, calling for justice. Their experience laid the solid foundation for Jesus’ teaching and solidarity with the poor and the outcast.

Maybe some of us naively thought that we could or should place our loyalty in any political agenda or party. Remember, Yahweh told Israel that they should never put their trust in “princes, horses, or chariots” (Psalms 20:7, 33:16-17), but only in the love of God. We must not imagine that political or programmatic changes—of themselves—will ever bring about the goodness, charity, or transformation that the Gospel offers the world.

Do not be afraid to allow conventional wisdom to fail and disappoint you, which is often the only path to wisdom. Imperial thinking focuses on judging who is worthy and who is unworthy, who is in and who is out. We who know about universal belonging and identity in God have a different form of power: Love (even of enemies) is our habitat, not the kingdoms of this world.

Our message is not primarily political, it is much more pre-political and post-political—with huge socio-political implications. We thus need to rebuild from the bottom up!
This election has solidified in us an urgent commitment to CAC’s work of action and contemplation, which now seems needed more than ever before. Grounding social action in contemplative consciousness is not a luxury for a few, but surely a cultural necessity. Both the Christian religion and American psyche now need deep cleansing and healing, and I do not say that lightly.

Only a contemplative mind can hold our fear, confusion, vulnerability, and anger and guide us toward love. Let’s use this milestone moment to begin again with confidence and true inner freedom and to move out into the world with compassion.
May God grant us both courage and peace!

A Prayer
All vulnerable and merciful God,
We do not know what is ours to do.
We feel scared and alone today.
We are tired of taking sides.
We cannot hold any more fear or anger or rejection.
And yet we know so many of our friends feel unheard and unwanted.
Help us trust that no feeling is final,
And that YOU will have the full and final word.
If You are indeed a Suffering God, may we hold this suffering with You for those who voted for Hillary Clinton, for those who voted for President-elect Donald Trump, and for the many who have felt excluded by our politics in the many ways that we do indeed exclude.
We offer ourselves as best we can to hold this Love outward and open toward all, just as You never cease to do toward us.
We believe You are praying this prayer through us.
Amen.

“Only a contemplative mind can hold our fear, confusion, vulnerability, and anger and guide us toward love. Let’s use this milestone moment to begin again with confidence and true inner freedom and to move out into the world with compassion,” Rohr states above.  This my friends is the key.  See Timi’s comment from yesterday.  We must do all AND; not see either OR.  This is a foreign concept for many of us who experience the world in polar opposites.

You can hold all these emotions–anger, fear, confusion AND compassion, hope and love.  I urge you not to demonize those who voted for the other side–whichever way you voted.  Now is the time for gracious winners and losers and the recognition that our country had an almost even number of people who voted for each candidate.  AND, we had a huge number of eligible voters who didn’t vote at all.  We should examine what each of those statistics tells us.

Most importantly, now is not the time to be complacent.

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Here are the Georgetown email thread remarks, a great Rohr quote, and my thoughts which are a bit dated now, but were “penned” on Thursday after giving myself some time to ponder last week’s election outcome.

In addition, I want to preview coming attractions in this blog.  I’ve been wanting to address a more civil way of being in relationship with one another for some time now.  There seems to be no time like the present to discuss that topic.  So look for that theme in coming weeks.

As always, I appreciate your readership and perspectives.  Some of you choose to share your thoughts when we speak and that’s great.  Some choose to share them here on the blog via comments and that’s great, too.  My goal is to share my journey and my learning which includes all of you and, fortunately for me, your wisdom makes me think and grow.

And now for more perspectives on last week’s election:

The following emails came from the Georgetown thread:
#14
To my esteemed colleges in the Georgetown community,

I live outside of the beltway, outside of the Washington-New York power corridor, and my offer to each of you is to see that much of the country’s rejection of the status quo was a rejection of the vast influence peddling and dealing involving both political parties, that seems to marginalize all of us and our values who live in the heartland.

We are the people who appeared as red on the map last night. All of us have a local perspective and we naturally assume that because we, our neighbors and our friends see the world one way that all must see the world that way. Ask yourself if you even knew anyone who voted for Trump? Or for me did I know anyone who voted for Clinton?

My take from way out, west of beltway, is that those of us in the rest of the country rejected the media, government, industrial power complex that does not represent us.

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#15
My husband said something that struck me last night. He said, “ok, now I can make the space in my life to do something purposeful.”

What he meant was, he was voting Democrat, but besides that he hadn’t done much or put time into furthering the values he holds dear or pushing forward the policies he believes in.

Now, instead of just gliding by on a win, he is in a position where he feels compelled to rise up and bring purpose into his life. He felt empowered by that opportunity.

Our house is very saddened by the election, but I’m joining him in a desire to work harder and be more active in creating the changes we believe in.
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#16
Greetings Peacemakers and Bold Change Agents,

Wow. What a week. As this political election train pulls away from my station, I’m left wondering what now? Oh wait, here comes another mid-term election train. Wait – that’s too soon. I’m not ready. And I close my eyes.

As I sit in this silence and darkness, the clarity about my purpose becomes more clear. As a Coach and Facilitator, I know I am in the right place to help our country move forward. I am also starkly aware that I am somehow one rung removed from the real work of my Clients and participants and that actions speak louder than words. I can’t just sit here. I’ve got to do something.

I open my eyes.

I commit to everyday fighting the society that PET (President Elect – who he shall not be named) espoused to create.

I commit to “standing next” to those who are bullied, isolated and marginalized and hearing their stories and providing space for them to share, learn and grow.

I commit to learning more about the rural communities that are really suffering. For example, recently I read about a story where a small business owner’s healthcare out of pocket ceiling went from $9k to $26k in three years. That would swallow a family financially and if you’re in a rural area with no other job options, what choice do you have but to vote for change? I plan to read the Hillbilly Elegy (NY Times Bestseller) to learning more about the poor white community.

I commit to learning more about systemic racism that I recently read about in Waking Up White which is a tremendous read, by the way. So good that I recommended it to my daughters’ public high school English Team leader. I will continue my learning by reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

I commit to learning more about the Muslim communities and their unique challenges to living and thriving in this country. I will read Love InshAllah on a recommendation from a progressive book club I recently joined.

I commit to opening my heart and mind to new possibilities for all people, all religions, all loves, all families, all people. There is room, in my world, for all to coexist. And I am noticing that the next generation, is far more open to possibility than who voted for the outcome earlier this week. Their world is already a blend of all types – though agree that I live in a diversity bubble in the outskirts of Washington DC.

I commit to becoming more engaged in local politics so the skill sets needed at the national level are honed and grown locally. Like a baseball team’s farm system of growth for politicians. I view politics as an arena for gladiators – and after one is left standing, they have to shift their skills to connection, agreement, empowerment, service to others and the greater good. It is not an arena for all and for those that choose to flourish in that space, they will need my support.

I’m percolating on ideas on how to serve my community to provide a space for healing and moving forward.

I can no longer sit and wait to see what comes and what happens. I can and will make a difference in the communities in which I serve. And when I donate, I plan to support organizations that serve my commitments and also saving my planet because I believe that PET won’t.

WE ARE stronger together and I will do that with or without the PET behind me, next to me or in front of me.

Thanks for making it to the end of this long note.

Wishing you all a peaceful day. Bring goodness into the world and let your light shine bright!

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A few random thoughts from Bev:

I remember a board member who sat on one of the bank boards where I worked back in the 2000’s spoke about the erosion of America’s middle class and how it was only going to get worse. The income disparity has only grown over the years. I have watched this firsthand in my hometown community in PA. I am a product of a middle class upbringing where both parents were high school degreed but not college educated. They both worked outside the home–my father in a factory job at Firestone Tire & Rubber (on the factory floor) and my mother in a department store. They both needed to work to make ends meet and even so, our resources were modest, at best. The neighboring town where my father’s factory job was housed was also home to approximately 5 other major factories. All of them are gone now. Most of them closed in the 1980’s and 1990’s. All those jobs now gone.

I’m not saying that trade agreements are to blame. As consumers we have benefitted by lower costs on consumer goods because jobs have moved overseas. Perhaps we can’t have it both ways. But, this erosion of the middle class was clearly seen in this week’s vote. Think about the midwest; think about the rust belt (PA, Michigan, Wisconsin).

The “Change Platform” has probably won several of the last 30-40 years worth of Presidential elections. Carter when he beat Ford. Reagan when he beat Carter. Clinton when he beat George H.W. Bush. Bush 43 when he beat Gore (kind of). Obama when he beat McCain and now when Trump beats Secretary Clinton. The desperation of this last change started during the primaries when a slate of 15+ Republicans–many indisputably qualified to hold the top job–all lost to a swashbuckling outsider.

So people don’t see their lives get better–perhaps many of them actually lose financial ground–even after 8 years of a Democratic White House (yes, I know we had a Republican congress). Health costs are out of control, school taxes keep increasing, corporate loyalty to employees has eroded, regulations have increased and placed burdens on small businesses and corporations alike, and so on. You get the picture.

There are so many more reasons. Are there racism and sexism issues? Of course. We would be naive to think otherwise. People essentially look at their own lives–have they gotten better or worse and if they’re worse off, the candidate who offers the hope of change—I don’t know. Maybe?

OK…this post is already VERY long. I agree with so much of what’s been said. Compassion. Open minds. Open ears. Fighting for values and causes we believe in. Prayer. Listening to understand first before seeking to be understood.

Peace and blessings to all of you and thank you again for your heartfelt and insightful perspectives.

With much love and gratitude,
Bev


Here are the next group of responses to my email appeal for understanding.  If you want to read the original email, please see yesterday’s post (November 12, 2016).

 

#8

Hi Bev-
I woke up yesterday feeling very depressed about the election results and our country. I honestly don’t know what I find more upsetting…that Donald Trump will be our next President, or that nearly half of the country would vote for such a close-minded, narcissistic bully. I honestly can’t help you to understand, because I do not understand myself. I guess as I have had a little more time to digest the news I realize that there is a lot of discontent and pain in the country, and I don’t think we can lump all Trump voters together as to what prompted their vote. I’m not sure what the way forward is…but I am going to try and do what Hillary suggested yesterday in her gracious concession speech. Keep an open mind about Trump and give him a chance. Although even as I am typing that I feel very, very skeptical. I woke up this morning and said a prayer for Donald Trump. That his heart would be softened and that he would seek wisdom. I felt a little better afterwards. So perhaps the way forward is to remain civil, disagree in a loving way when called to do so, pray for Trump and our country, and continue to live out and work toward the values that we hold dear.
I would be interested in your thoughts. This is a tough one to swallow!
Take care.
Love,
XXX
P.S. It was kind of ironic…I happened to go to my Afterschool program yesterday afternoon where I volunteer. Several of the teacher aides are refugees from Nepal and are muslim. We had a baby shower for the Director of the program…and these wonderful, kind-hearted aides who hardly have two cents to rub together for their families brought in the most amazing food, baked an incredible cake, and bought or hand-crocheted the most lovely and generous gifts. I would love for Donald Trump to meet them and to see what I see…how they are beautiful additions to our country, and we should be glad that they are here!

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#9
I’m reaching for anything uplifting and inspiring. A good read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-this-disabled-mexican-jewish-woman-isnt-afraid-of-the-trump-administration_us_58239c88e4b0e80b02cead5f

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#10
Hi Bev,
First of all thank you for sending this em, I got a lot of comfort when I saw your em this morning. I was so stunned and disoriented this morning. Like you I have decided to stay away from news for a while to process and heal.
Well my friend it was my first time voting in a national election. I became a US citizen only a year ago! I continue to feel blessed that I got to vote.
As I look forward I am looking at two initial ways to move on from this feeling of what just happened here. First I need to use my meditation practice to focus on an open mind to what lies ahead. In addition, when I am ready to review the autopsy of what happened, I would like to put myself in the shoes of a range of Trump supporters to try to understand what the draw was. I feel that this will help me see their point of view better as well as help me heal and get back to center.
Sending you peace, love and hugs.

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#11
I have struggled to respond because I am still processing. I have not even read the other replies yet. There are so many factors and realities that I find in this outcome that I struggle to get my hands around all of them. But here are a few of my thoughts….

The result makes me believe that the division in our country is even greater than I realized and I have not been paying attention (neither has the media, liberal to moderate Americans, pollsters, etc. but Trump did and maximized on it). Sadly, I believe some of the vote was a hate vote, but hold on to faith that not all who voted for Trump share in that hatred.

The result also makes me believe we are further behind in women’s equality than I thought. And I am disappointed in myself. About nine years ago I shared with my friends that I was certain that America would elect a black man before a woman. I did not say it with sadness (because a wonderful barrier was broken with President Obama’s election), but with steadfast believe from many of my working experiences that men and women continued to hold women to a different standard, were sexist without understanding they were, and many, many barriers existed to women knowing equal rights and equal success in business and politics. I am disappointed that I thought it was different a decade later and did not see that America would not elect a white woman over a white man. But I was certain that the barriers would be hurdled given that the male choice was hateful, lacking civility of any form and had no qualifications for the job. I was wrong.

As for the question What Now…..I believe women must rise stronger and fight harder than ever. Our facilitation skills and nurturing tendencies are needed more than ever. We must use our gifts and help our nation heal and find unity. We must be leaders in reaching across the aisle, holding fast to the believe that we can find common ground – it is simply not that difficult. We are built for this stuff! And we must be prepared to protect those who need protection like a mother lion looking out for her cubs. People of color and religious minorities as well as white people who love these people are scared. No less than three friends of mine who are minorities or have minority children shared this week with me how afraid they are. For those of with privilege, we must use it for the greater good and lend its claim to our neighbors who feel like they have been left in the cold.

While we must be prepared, we must also not despair but draw on our faith to answer this difficult time. We are not alone. I know God is with those who love and so is half of our country who just rejected wanting to live in a hateful, hopeless nation.

May God bless you Bev, all women on your email, the United States of America and ALL of its citizens!!!

Sending you hugs my friend!!!

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#12

Regarding your first question to me…I was in shock and disbelief all the way up to 2:00 am when it was likely a done deal. I shut the tv off and before going to bed, I spent a few private, quiet moments in something like “prayer.” Some of my thoughts were “requests.” For strength, wisdom, and compassion for myself for this time in history. I also requested the same for all of the leaders of our country. I also found myself expressing my gratitude to be living in this time and place.

What surfaced almost immediately last night and this morning was my persistent underlying optimism. The feeling in those moments reminded me of another moment in time when my job and career were directly undermined–IRS was consolidating 7 Regions into 5. We in the Mid-Atlantic Region were a certainty…until at the very last minute, our Region was abolished!! I remember all my co-workers wringing their hands incessantly and being obsessed with worry. I don’t know where it came from but I found myself calm and confident–not stressed at all. I remember saying to myself, what’s the worse that could happen to me with my tenure? My imagination walked through a worse case scenario that would take about 2 years to unfold. I reminded myself that I was a competent, hard-working, likeable employee and that I could weather that possible outcome. And, that in the meantime, I knew I would find something else.

That’s a moment in my life when I fully realized that it is an “abundant” Universe. And that just because one opportunity dissolved, it didn’t mean that no others would become available.

Last night and this morning that same sense of stability came over me. While I detest much what Trump stands for, I do want him, our government, and our country to succeed. Last night I reminded my best friend that this country survived a revolution, a bloody civil war, several world wars, 911, and other big crises…and we got through them all. Having Trump as our president is not as horrific as any of those earlier events in our history. We will work it out. And for me personally and my family, friends, colleagues, community, and other connections, we will make our way even if we don’t know exactly what that way will be like. We will figure it out.

This wave of optimism in the midst of great disappointment did not leave me painless. Hillary’s message this morning was not possible to watch without a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. I am grateful that she was so dedicated to serving our country in such difficult times and under such personal attack.

My sadness and disappointment are still hanging around and will for a while. But I won’t let it consume me and I feel competent that I, and we, can ride out the storm. I can and will continue to do all I can do to take care of myself and my loved ones and to contribute to the greater good.

Thank you for asking for our reflections. It was useful to think through how I feel and to explore what my small presence is in the larger world. I am confident about not just surviving but about thriving.

That’s my 2-, no, 50-cents worth.

Be well.

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This was a “letter” that one of my girlfriends on the original email sent me that was composed by her daughter. It has a link for a letter to Hillary.

#13

Friends,

I don’t know about you, but the shock and pain from Tuesday night have barely begun to wear off. I keep finding layers of reasons to be sad…and I keep coming back to thinking about how awful I feel for Hillary as a human being–to say nothing of her political work, or what her loss means for our country.

The only thing that made me feel a little better this morning was to write a note “to Hillary” and commit to what I want to do next. I’m under no illusions that she will ever read it, but for a few minutes, it felt really cathartic. If you’re on Medium, I’d encourage you to write your own–maybe we can even start a series of these letters. Or feel free to share or react to this post, if you feel so inclined. At a time like this, I think it’s really important that we all capture why she is so important to us in personal ways before people move on and lose some of their passion.

View story at Medium.com

It’s been a real honor and privilege to campaign alongside so many of you this year–thanks so much for your support.

Lots of love,

 

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A funny thing happened when I reached out to friends for help with this loss.  They shared their grief with me and gave me permission to share it with others.  For those not grieving or with other perspectives, they shared too.  I am grateful.

Below and over the next few posts you will see my original email and then the collection of responses I received from several of you. I also pulled out some responses from a similar thread that was started in the Georgetown Leadership Coaching community. Those will come toward the end of this series. Per one wise woman’s suggestion, I am numbering the email responses below (I did promise confidentiality so I’m not including names). That way if you want to comment on any particular email, you only have to refer to an email number.

I know this is raw for many of us and will continue to be so for some time. Mourning is a process that takes time. One thing that such a divisive campaign can lead to is polarization. A candidate is all right or all wrong. He/she is great for the country or awful for the country. Our strong feelings lead us to opposite poles and any suggestion of compromise or taking good with the bad feels like salt in an open wound.

So for some of you, there are a few responses here that do provide an alternative look at the issue(s). I encourage you to breathe deeply, perhaps get a glass of wine, and try to read with a compassionate and open mind. I love you all and appreciate the thoughtful responses, perspectives and suggestions for the way forward.

I added my two cents and that perspective will come at the very end of the series, after the wonderful Richard Rohr quote that one of you graciously sent to me.
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(Original email)
Hello Ladies,

I have blind copied about 18 women on this email because I truly do want your perspectives on how this election outcome just happened. I think you’ll just have the option to reply to me and so, again, it keeps your identity confidential. If you want me to share your thoughts with the rest of the group, I can certainly do that….but, I am truly looking for perspective on this.

I know some of you, like myself, are registered Republicans. Some of you may have even voted for Donald Trump. I am sincerely not looking to cast blame…I am looking for thoughts, ideas, and understanding. I am not even listening to the news reports any more because they clearly didn’t have a sound understanding of the country’s sentiment and what the Donald Trump candidacy meant to the voters in our country.

I’m also looking for a way to move forward that honors my own values and respects the values of others. In other words, I truly still believe in civility through this process. I think cooler heads are going to need to prevail.

Thank you in advance for your wisdom and thoughts. I value each and every one of you and that’s why I’m asking.

Peace and blessings to you all! God bless the United States of America.
Bev

Here are the different responses I have received thus far:

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#1
Bev

I wish I could help you understand my friend, but today I feel rattled to my core. The last time I felt this stressed about the world was 9-11.
I literally sit here trying to preserve my personal sense of center and lessen my stress and deep feeling of disappointment in people. We can not control or even really know what is ahead of us so I have decided to assume the best and not the worst. What he does will not change who I am or how I plan to treat others. We need to support each other and hold tight for what be a rocky ride. We are America as a collective, America is not one person, so together we can be strong, divided we will struggle.
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#2
Hi Bev,

How are you feeling?

Oh Bev. My children are heartbroken. It is their future we have compromised in fear (of difference) and bitterness (and I truly believe, misogyny). I want to hope that somehow people will rally to support Trump and help him to do the right things in terms of the well-being of humans in our country. For sure we must stick together. I am trying to go high, as Michelle Obama counseled. The supreme court appointments, the energy industry…we all need to pray for Trump to have some sort of perspective and wisdom which he seems to greatly lack. Change is one thing, but this feels kamikaze. I am very uncomfortable at the moment, but I trust we will rebound. I hope the destruction is limited.

I will work to focus on gratitude, integrity, using my voice to protect and heal to the best of my ability. Maybe I shouldn’t be responding so soon but this is how I feel now.
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#3
Well Bev. . . You know that I struggled on how to vote and did so up until I voted and even after. It was one of the few times in my life when I didn’t know what was the right thing to do. I believe the people spoke very loudly that they wanted change (even willing to overlook “all” his faults), didn’t want a “career” politician with status quo continuing and some may have voted for what they thought was the lesser of the two evils. Will we ever truly know?? Major wakeup call for Washington and our overly liberal media.

Economics/finance is always my go to for voting purposes, but did extend my voting thought process due to a bi-partisan article I recently read, which did not tell you who to vote for (believe it or not), but stated that you should look at the candidates on their policies (overlook who they are), because they will dictate who will be on the supreme court and the direction of our country for the next 20/30 years or more. Gave details on the aging of the Supreme Court, etc. and stated that this was a much bigger issue than a 4 year term president.

My thoughts are, we are a great, strong and resilient country that will survive this presidency. Sort of like family, we may fight amongst ourselves, but an outside party says or does something and we have each other’s backs. I hope, pray and am trying to believe (based on him being a successful businessman) that he will surround himself with competent, knowledgeable people that will help guide him through the next four years. While I may not like The Donald as our president, I love the USA and will support my country and their leadership.

My true thought is: BALL IS IN YOUR COURT DONALD TRUMP

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#4
Hi Bev,

What a thoughtful email. I rallied my little team this morning as they are shocked and frightened. We talked about the power of social media and the anonymity it provides that allow people to say hateful, racists, bigoted statements.

But to your bigger question of how do we move forward, I really feel like it is time for all of us to stand up to hateful speech and to put out our own messages of hope and faith instead of just turning our heads and ignoring it. I also think we all need to communicate more with our politicians so that they do not operate in a bubble but understand more.

Thanks for asking. I look forward to all the answers you receive. I hope you will post them in your blog which I used as an example of positive, powerful speech!

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#5
God help us

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#6
Hey Bev, I am baffled. Pretty much speechless. I’m trying to find the positive but unable right now. How did we get here? My refuge is always prayer. There are just somethings that only God can fix. God help us all!!!

Sorrowfully submitted and your friend,

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#7
Thought I’d send this along to you as we grasp for a way to comprehend and respond (forwarded email from a close family member):

To some family and friends: attached are some examples of grace in politics — the very model of humility and faith operating in public arena. The country is going to need a lot of this, coming from all corners.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/442008/may-god-bless-president-trump

 

More in the next few days.  Peace be with you.

 

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I love Halloween–I’m not exactly sure what that says about my personality–but I do.  I love the magical/mysterious quality of the holiday.  The dressing up, the kids, the colors of black and gold.  So it’s no surprise one of my favorite seasonal poems goes like this:

 

 

Black And Gold

Everything is black and gold,
Black and gold, to-night:
Yellow pumpkins, yellow moon
Yellow candlelight;

Jet-black cats with golden eyes
Shadows black as ink,
Firelight blinking in the dark
With a yellow blink

Black and gold, black and gold
Nothing in between-
When the world turns black and gold
Then it’s Halloween!

Nancy Byrd Turner

 

Happy Halloween, Everybody!!!  🕷🕸🎃

 


“We are all beginners, we will always be beginners.”  – Thomas Merton

Ah, if we would all attack life with the curiosity and openness of a child.  So much to learn and so little time.

I had the opportunity to hear Jim Kouzes speak this past week.  He’s written various leadership books and has traveled the world researching and speaking.  He encourages leaders to ask their people weekly what new thing they learned or in what way did they grow during the previous week.  What a great way to keep encouraging growth!  Humans are at our best when we are stretched to some degree–not an overwhelming amount (we’re not talking jumping out of airplanes here), but at least out of our immediate comfort zone.

The Grace of Descent allows us to sit with pain for a while and ask questions about our lives.  What’s working well?  What’s not working well?  What thoughts and behaviors are no longer serving us–meaning we’re not getting the kind of results from life, from relationships, from work that we want.

But, how do you do this practically, you ask?  It’s easy to talk about sitting in pain, but what does that mean?  I am interested in others thoughts about this because many of you have described processes you have gone through to work through difficult situations.  In the meantime, here are a couple practices to consider.

  • Suspend action.  The natural tendency when we’re in pain is to do something to “medicate” it.  We are not a culture of expressing and accepting feelings.  So when we feel something as acutely as shame, betrayal, failure, extreme frustration, rejection and so forth our natural tendency is to do something to numb the feeling.  This typically involves something to keep the feeling at bay; many times it is some form of activity. It also can involve denying we’re feeling it and/or berating ourselves for feeling it.  Avoid the temptation to ignore it and to overwork yourself to avoid feeling.  Allow yourself some good cries.  Allow the shame to wash over you.  Allow the rejection to stab at your heart.  We are humans and were designed to feel.  That’s what separates us from robots.  If you meditate, this would be a great time to continue your practice.  If you don’t, now might be a good time to look into some form of meditation practice (prayer, walking meditation, breathing meditation, etc.)
  • Pain is a great teacher.  When I feel intense pain, I really want to try to learn from it because I sure as heck don’t want to go through it again if I can learn something that helps me avoid whatever led to the pain.  Asking questions of yourself is a good practice to consider.  The only advice I would give is don’t rush to answer those questions yourself immediately.  Again, patience is your best friend during this time.  Good friends can also be a source of answers during this time period.
  • Remember:  thinking –> feelings –> actions –> results.  If you want different results, start with your thoughts.  People have asked me since the last post what I meant by saying “my parents held on to things that were not serving them well as they headed toward death.”  What I meant is they weren’t willing to change their thinking about some people and some issues toward the end of their life.  It led them to a lot of frustration and heart ache.  I truly believe “letting go” is one of the keys to living a happy and grace-filled life.  Letting go of grudges; letting go of thoughts and feelings that lead to destructive actions (like prejudices and anger); letting go of “the way things used to be.”  So using the path of descent to question and adjust your thinking is a great use of your time and energy and can help you capitalize on the pain you’re experiencing to advance your development toward a life filled with grace.

Okay.  I’ve been on my soapbox long enough on the path of descent.  It is a brilliant opportunity to learn, grow, give ourselves and others grace.  I hope your journeys are helpful and hopeful!!  Love you all!!

 

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A new SWOG to our little community sent me this wonderful photo with a text the other day.

As I read it, I turned to mush.

As I blubbered something– likely incoherent– in thanks to her for such a wonderful message, she made the suggestion that I turn all of you to mush, too!

So here goes.

Often we don’t realize the positive impact we make in the world.  So per a wonderful SWOG’s suggestion, let me pass on this reminder of just how special you are and what a wonderful difference you make.

Shine on, dear SWOGs & SMOGs!  Love you all!

 

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So some of you have been the recipients of cards that I’ve purchased from this card company called Cardthartic.  I first stumbled on their cards in Montana and then discovered I could order an array of different cards for different occasions from their online site.  Every order you receive comes with a cute thank you card and usually a free magnet from the owner who signs her name:  “Your Fairy Cardmother.”  (OK, I’m sure it’s not the owner who sends it, but they make you feel like she did!)

What a clever woman and company!

She also sends out periodic emails.  So, just yesterday I received one that had this card on the top of it:

usa-cardtharticusa-card-2

 

And her email went on to say the following:

We know it will take way more than one well-meaning greeting card to unite this nation but, cardies, it’s a start!

In an email yesterday morning, my friend Susan Lyon expressed exactly what I was feeling. “My heart is sad post-debate,” she wrote. “I woke feeling tired of the ugly descent to behavioral lows I am seeing on our national stage.  I hope this finds you writing your big heart out, creating new cards with diligence, delight, determination and a desire to lift up our weary souls.”

Susan’s positive ending reminded me of how Sunday’s final debate question was such a breath of fresh air in that tension-filled room. Town Hall participant Karl Becker had asked the candidates, “Regardless of the current rhetoric, can you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”

FYI, when she saw this USA card featured last week, cardie and inspiring patriot Amy Murray ordered 40 and, at checkout in the Order Comments box, graciously added, “I traditionally send friends and family a card to remind them to vote. This year’s campaign has been so toxic that I was struggling with what to send.  Of course, Cardthartic has just the right message.  Bravo!  And be sure to vote!”

I myself had mailed the USA card to my 92-year-young friend and neighbor Hannlis last week and received a call minutes after the mailman had successfully waded through her Hillary yard signs.  “Just calling to say I feel the same way about you!” she enthused.  “Thank you, thank you for the card.”  And I know who will receive my next two: Conservatives who have never held my liberalism against me! 🙂 Jack Kraft and Randy Moore may lean as far right as I do left, but our fondness for each other has only grown over the years. I would go so far as to say — were it not for these two — Cardthartic would not be today. Both successful business owners and investors, they helped back Cardthartic, and have continued to have my back for two decades.

I’ll never forget what fiscally conservative Jack wrote on the memo line of his investment check: “Spend it wisely and well.” And more protective than I could ever learn to be, it was Randy who early on proposed and then personally secured a line of credit for Cardthartic. “Let’s give you and your staff this sense of security for a rainy day.” While they both could have played on my “I’m so not a numbers person” insecurities, instead they would say, “But this company is nothing without your creativity!”  Well aware of our differences, these gracious men not only helped this woman business owner feel that I have a respected place at the table, they’ve made a point of proudly reminding me that it’s my being at the table that has put food on many others’.

Hehe, Jack once stayed in my place while I was away, and I returned to find my television had been tuned to Fox News. I sent him a teasing text that read, “Really?! I didn’t even know my TV got Fox.” and immediately came his quick-witted reply, “Sorry. Before I left, I tried switching it back to CNN, but your set cried out, ‘No! No! Please let me remain fair and balanced!’”

So if I’m Dem to the core and yet could not love and admire these Republicans more, how have we bridged our philosophical divide?  Regardless of our rhetoric (and there have been times! 🙂 we’ve never lost sight of all the good in one another, and how it’s our combined differences that make us a better whole.  I hope you are fortunate enough to have your own Jack and Randy, and that you’ll use this undebatable opportunity to acknowledge them and any other compatriots you choose.  Thank you for considering!

 

~ jodee stevens
founder & creative director

 

Oh, by the way, she also put a direct link in the email to be able to acquire two free American flag cards like you see at the top of the page.  Yes, I did send for mine…but I just want everyone to know that the sentiment applies to all of you regardless of whether you get the physical card in the mail or not.  If you love this one, you should see the others.  Here’s their website (and no, I don’t get any royalties from sales–darn!):  www.cardthartic.com

Now for my soapbox:  Celebrate each other and our differences.  Be respectful and kind.  Don’t give up your passionate views, AND don’t hate others whose views are equally passionate in the other direction.  It’s a “grace-filled” way to be.  God Bless the United States of America.