Understanding Others

This morning as students were walking in, I glanced at my Facebook feed.

Many of my students are Trump supporters. The most vocal among them are definitely Trump supporters. A number of them were happy. Not all, of course – some were upset, many were surprised, most were just tired.

My Facebook friends are a thorough mix – Clinton supporters, Trump supporters, people who deeply dislike both candidates. (I appreciate the mix – it’s important to me that I’m not in an echo chamber and hear many points of view.) The Trump supporters were pretty quiet this morning. My feed was a mix of “I’m glad that God is sovereign,” and “I’m deeply sad and frightened and how could we have elected this bigoted person?”

The disconnect between what I was reading and what I was hearing was a bit surreal.

In first period, there were a couple of instances of graffiti on the property of the one vocal Clinton supporter among my students. (Probably not the only Clinton supporter; just the only vocal one.) One student, who has repeatedly said he’s just glad he’s not 18 yet and can’t vote, pointed out that the losers were being more gracious than the winners.

I spent most of the day telling my students how other people feel. Yes, you’re happy because your candidate won – and that’s not bad. You can be happy. But you need to understand that a lot of people are very scared right now. You need to understand that, whether or not you think it’s fair, your candidate’s campaign is associated with xenophobia. You need to remember that, and understand how your glee comes across to people who are afraid for their safety. You need to be gracious in victory and raise the level of political discourse. Fine, you can’t change the nation – start with yourself.

I also spent a lot of time telling people to take off their “Make America Great Again” hats. You can be happy that your candidate won – but you still have to follow the dress code. No hats! I probably came across as trying to crush their joy; actually, I’m just a stickler for the rules.

At least one student left today with a greater understanding of how other people are feeling. Probably two. That’s a worthwhile day. And even if none of them had, I spent the day thinking about where other people are coming from and how other people are feeling, and that’s worth doing.

Crossposted at generatingfunctions.wordpress.com.

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