Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What I Can Control

"Worry about what you can control," I tell my students, over and over.
Today I wait for the people of my state--people who have always been kind to me and forgiving of my foibles, people who give generously to charity and serve their communities and nation abundantly--to make a horrendous mistake. To endorse for the Presidency a man whose values are utterly alien to their own. To drop a dookie on America's civic lawn.
I cannot control their behavior. I can control my own. I can recognize that my own frequently-expressed contempt for these people and their cultural and religious norms has been a contributing factor in their decision--that I have made it difficult for people to want to share a nation with people like me.
I can recognize that I have been dismissive of the pain caused by the disintegration of the American working class under the pressures of globalization. That I am largely insulated from the very real costs incurred by economic and social progress, and that others are paying the price for my moral and physical comfort.
I can recognize that, as someone who broadly shares the values of the American cultural elite, I could stand to be a bit less superior about it, and that tolerance is often a virtue which I apply selectively.
I can recognize that, for a guy who talks a lot about persuasion, I'm often not very good at it. And that I talk better than I listen. 

I'm not a fan of"safe spaces" as a concept, but I think it's probably time for me to recognize that there need to be arenas in American life where people can come together without feeling like they're under psychological assault. We need those spaces, at this moment, more than we need my personal political and moral preferences.
I will work towards reconciliation, and I'm OK with being held to that. Feel free to blow the whistle.