“We’re number 1!”
“We’re the best country in the world!”
“Come up against us and we’ll crush you!”
“Second place is the first loser!”
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing.”
This is the narrative that America has been running on for the past 50 years or so. It probably started soon after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, ending World War II. We got the idea that we were superior to others in the world; that we were the #1 country.
This idea of superiority and spirit of competitiveness has also become common between fellow Americans, to the point where now we are again a nation divided right down the middle. I have seen so many angry, hateful and competitive comments coming from people who feel that they have “won” the 2016 election. Some of those who feel that they “lost,” are also angry, though to a less venomous degree, about what has transpired. The obsession with competition has gotten so bad that now people are willing to accept anyone or anything just to be able to say that they “won” a fleeting victory.
I have some news for both sides: we ALL lost this election because we’ve lost our moral compass as a country. This election has shown that an overwhelming number of people are willing to do ANYthing to “win” — even if it means potentially throwing our future into the trash.
This intense competitive spirit has now trickled down to day to day interactions. There have been a number of cases of people being bold and outright with their racism and hatred toward others in public. There are stories of kids and adults bragging and taunting other people who they feel “lost” the election.
Some people have suggested that we should just laugh at and ignore these people, but I tend to disagree.
People ignored Hitler and the hateful propaganda his regime was spreading too. They probably thought it was all just something that would fade away with time. That was right up until the day when the first trucks rolled up to take people away from their homes.
Unfortunately, simply ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. There’s a quote that roughly says “evil prevails when good men/women do nothing.” This has been true in the past and it is true now.
I don’t think that we should ignore hate and ignorance when it arises in our personal lives. I think we are responsible for questioning it, boldly and unapologetically. Calmly ask the offending person questions, like:
Why do you feel it is acceptable and okay to make that kind of statement?
Where did you learn that from?
Who taught you that?
How would you feel if someone said/did that to your mother/sister/daughter/loved one?
Questions have a way of holding people accountable. They have to face the woman/man in the mirror if only for a moment. You don’t even have to respond to their response if it is very ignorant. Just look at them, listen, respectfully disagree and end the conversation. Don’t laugh or joke it away with them. And don’t ever argue with a foolish person because as they say, “then no one will know who’s who.” But if you feel that a calm discussion would be possible and have merit, keep the conversation going.
At the time of this post, Thanksgiving is less than a week away, so surely you will have a chance to practice if you have family members who think that it’s okay to bully, taunt and openly hate people. You may have sat by quietly as they spouted hate at the table where you eat before, but no more. Not this year. Hold them accountable for their hateful and ignorant comments by asking thoughtful but respectful questions:
When our family first emigrated here, do you think it was fair that people treated them the way that you’re treating ___(fill in the blank)____?
If God/Jesus were sitting here, what would God/Jesus say about the comment you just made?
Why do you feel that your way is the only acceptable way to live?
Why does it seem like you’re in competition with others who have a different race/gender/sexual preference/income/etc?
What bothers you so much about people who are different from you?
It doesn’t matter if you get through to that person — remember, this isn’t a competition. You don’t have to “win.” The point here is that you made a stance against hate and ignorance. I think this is what we need more of in America and the world at this questionable time.