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After reading Claire Berlinski’s long-awaited post, I resonated with much of what she said. From a time perspective, however, I’m probably farther ahead in my grieving process. I’m not going to describe a traditional “grief” model in this OP; those models are always tidy and reasonable, reassuring us that there is an end to our anger, perplexity and sadness. My issue with grief, though, is that it is ugly and inconsistent; it is unique for each person in its duration, in its depth, and in its stages. For those of you who are looking for a linear approach to grief regarding the political process, hoping there is a beginning and an end, I can’t help you. I can only illustrate that it is messy, unpredictable, and most importantly normal.
I’ve avoided talking about the elections and Trump directly, for the most part. I didn’t want to inflame the passions, create enemies or discount the feelings of others. I will finally confess that I didn’t want Trump for President, so much so that I didn’t vote in this last election. There. I said it. For those of you who say it was a vote for Hillary, so be it. For me it was a protest, a rebellion that was emotional, resolute, yet principled (from my perspective). As unrealistic as it might have seemed to many of you, I mourned the loss of elevating and expecting the values of truth, honor, and dignity from our government and its representatives.
Is my grief about Trump? To some degree. Although many people minimize his buffoonery and immaturity, those attributes are consequential for me. That said, I can also hold the premise that he is the President, that he is initiating some productive ideas, is dedicated to meeting his campaign promises, and to helping this country. The problem for many people is that they can’t live with this paradox: repulsion and support. Part of my grieving process is to learn how to accept all of it, just as it is, because I cannot change it. And one thing I know for certain is that whatever is going on, it will change.
My grief is also about this country. We talk about the ugliness on college campuses, the despicable behavior of the media and the pathetic behavior of the left. It’s hard not to get stuck in hopelessness. Except that paradoxically, we can all be certain that this will, again, all change. It could get worse, but it could also get better; I’m sure many of us look for signs that it is getting better, or even that it will get better.
The key to traversing the muck of grief, for me, is to recognize precisely where I am, at any given moment. I know that I am journeying through ugliness and that we are a country that has been through terrible times — wars, assassinations, and economic disasters. And we have survived, even thrived through the worst of it. As I slog through moments of anger, sadness, denial, resignation and anger again, I keep remembering that in spite of everything, we as a country and as a people have emerged stronger and more resolute. We can strive for the positive and let go of the past, appreciating that we live in the greatest country in the world.
We are still that shining city on the hill.Published in