This is not a political rant, but rather a piece that has been written from a place of love, understanding, and compassion…
Two nights ago, I fell asleep on the couch between my mom and sister watching the map of the USA turn red… blue…red… blue…
At about 3am, I woke up to the headline, “Donald Trump, president of the United States.” My heart sank into the depths of my stomach. I looked at my mom, who was still awake, and always has some words of wisdom to offer. She was silent, shaking her head in disbelief. I looked at my sister, who was fast asleep. Tranquil. Unknowing.
I went upstairs, and I cried.
I’ve never considered myself a political person. Republican, Democrat, Left, Right, Red, Blue, Donkey, Elephant… to me, we’re all humans. Humans living in the United States, with the freedom to be whatever we aspire to be. With the freedom to do so with pride. We each have our individual stories, making us who we are. We’ve developed different world outlooks based upon these backgrounds, and we have the freedom to celebrate these differences, and to speak out about them. To me, that’s what makes America, America.
It bothers me when I see people on social media telling others; OMG shut up already. The election is over! Deal with it! Signing off social media until this BS is over. Hashtag peace sign.” Some may argue that social media is not the place for politics. But, as someone who has been taught to “use my words”, I ask- where should we voice these opinions?
No, I don’t agree with people attacking each other based upon their beliefs. In fact, I highly oppose it. However, let’s have educational conversations and consider one another’s viewpoints. Learn from them. Grow from them. And with that, here is my own:
First and foremost, my stance is reflective of the psychosocial implications of a Trump presidency. There are people out there who know way more about politics than I do. But, when it comes to feeling helpless, feeling lost, or feeling alone… I consider myself an expert in the field. Educational credentials are one thing, and I’ve got plenty of em, but as far as personal experience goes, that is knowledge that has no bounds.
In the post I have written on World Mental Health Day , I gave insight into the mentally unhealthy life I once lived. My home was under a tyrannical rule, led in such a way that makes it easy for a girl to stop believing in herself. There is a concept in psychology called learned helplessness, where an individual that has been exposed to an inescapable, repeated, painful stimuli will fail to learn how to get out of such a situation, and in essence, make helplessness their default response.
The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States serves as a trigger for me. As someone who has broken the cycle of learned helplessness, I’d like to remind anyone reading that it is possible. You are not helpless in this situation, as defeating as it may seem. Don’t lose hope. You’re not alone. What terrifies me though, is the implications on those who are currently living in an abusive household. If Trump’s presidency can trigger someone who has successfully removed herself from a tough situation, it breaks my heart to think how women are feeling that are living with their husband who tells them that they’re not good enough. How daughters are feeling that are getting stricken by their fathers: physically, mentally, or emotionally. It is hard enough to break the cycle of abuse. To try to muster the courage to do so while seeing Donald Trump rise to power, that is an uphill battle.
Eleanor Roosevelt has once said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent….But boy, will they try. The list of communities that are proclaiming that Donald Trump is not their president are sending a very powerful message. Rather than dubbing them unpatriotic or “sore losers”, let’s really stop to think about what they’re trying to say. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Imagine you were a teenage boy who grew up knowing that your sexual orientation isn’t the same as the masses. Imagine being of a race, religion, or social profile that doesn’t fit the mold. The Trump campaign hasn’t exactly sent out a message of unconditional positive regard. Empathy is a key personality trait of leadership, and those that are proclaiming #NotMyPresident feel this lack of empathy to their core.
We must not lose sight of the great progression that our nation has made in understanding and advocating for women, minorities, the environment, immigrants, the LGBTQ community. A Trump presidency does not erase this. In fact, my hope is that it will propel us to work even harder to support the organizations that are fueled by empathy. Celebrities such as Nick Kroll and John Mulaney have even spoken out on social media about such organizations that would truly benefit from the kind hearts of other empathetic souls. (Those organizations can be found here). It is awesome to see those in the public eye that have transformed their sadness and anger in a constructive way. I believe that is what we all should be doing. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to feel angry, or scared. But wallowing does not solve any problems. Neither does blame, or backlash. As Gandhi has once said, we must be the change that we wish to see in the world.
Social learning, as introduced by Albert Bandura, is a concept of social psychology that highlights the influence of role models. Call me crazy, but I believe the President of the United States should be the creme da la creme of role models, and as it stands, the thought of that terrifies me. If I had a child, I would not want them to look up to Donald Trump as their role model. While his tactics have led him to financial success, and may even render successful in helping the economy of the US, it goes against the ethics and morals of what we hope to instill in our generation, and those to come. I have heard children describe Donald Trump as a bully. Whether their opinions are based off of what they’ve seen on TV, or heard in their households, this is the picture that is painted in their malleable minds. According to Corinne Gregory’s blog, Obama’s 2012 budget included a commitment of $132M in funding to anti-bullying. Let’s hope that in that time we’ve developed and fostered some sound coping and resiliency methods, because we sure are going to need them.
Last night, after getting off the subway, I walked past a cluster of people writing notes on post its and sticking them to the wall. The #subwaytherapy messages had one outstanding message: love. That’s the note I’d like to leave this post on. As water was to the wicked witch of the West, love is to hatred. Easier said than done, of course. But we’re given one life— and it was never promised to be a fair one. There will be obstacles thrown at us that seem bigger than our body, with this election being one of them. Live life with a loving heart, an open mind, and an empathetic soul… even when you feel like you are the only person in the world. I promise that you are not. Seek help when you need it, and don’t give into the the temptation of arguing with the ignorant babble others. No matter who our president is, never forget that you are a beautiful soul who is worthy of the world.
-Lauren DiTo, MS-Applied Psychology, PhD Student- General Psychology