Zack Gross
Zack Gross

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Find a Way to Stay Positive After Trump’s Victory

Brandon Sun “Small World” Column,  Monday, November 14 / 16

Zack Gross

All the signs pointed to a Trump victory.  Of course, many of those signs didn’t appear to us mere mortals until after the results were in! 

For instance, when my wife and I got up early the morning after the election to see what the final tally was, she – as always – first checked her horoscope.  It was filled with negativity for all zodiacal signs – trouble at work, poor relations with family, financial problems.

While we had watched the results coming in the night before, like everyone else, we saw “sure victory” turn into “tight win” turn into “what needs to happen to make sure Hillary pulls this off” to “the win is in doubt” – at which time we had switched to the Jets hockey game!  At least, they won big!

The media in all its forms has likely told you all you want to know about the Trump victory and the first few days of transitions are already past.  I am tired of the “I told you so’s!” from the winner’s side, as well as the anger from the loser’s side – or at least I want to move on to “how do we handle this?  What do we do?”

Statistical websites tell us that Manitoba had the highest support rate in Canada for Donald Trump but that it was only 28%.  While the popular vote in the US was very close, the Electoral College system there clearly elected Mr. Trump and proved that his message had much greater traction than anyone thought, and that his character and business practices – no matter how flawed – didn’t faze millions of voters enough to affect their support for him.

It also proved that the incumbent political party didn’t realize how deep the crisis is in the US and to what extent they had lost touch with voters, including past supporters (who largely stayed home compared to Mr. Obama’s past turnouts).  Again, why are these signs so obvious now?  Why is hindsight 20-20?

I would imagine that politicians as divergent as Stephen Harper and Greg Selinger are at least spiritually communing these days with Hillary Clinton and asking themselves questions about what went wrong.  Sometimes they may feel bitterness.  After all, even if you don’t agree with their philosophies and policies, you know they have worked hard – that they likely made significant sacrifices for the good of their constituents. 

Other politicians may feel a type of hyperactivity, based on now being “shut out” of public life for the next four years, at least.  As someone who talked to provincial politicians after the last Manitoba election, I heard both strains of thought:  both the “they voted me out after all I did for them” and the “give me something to do

I personally have problems with the bitterness, but that is just me!  When things go really wrong, my natural inclination is to start working on solutions right away, even if they are small in comparison to the problem.  Maybe that means I am superficial.  Maybe (I hope) that means I am sustainable as someone who has worked for social change for a half century.

Yes, worry!  No, don’t be happy!  But switch to “what can I do positive about this seemingly negative situation
.”  Hillary Clinton’s words in her concession speech, difficult as they were even for her to easily accept, were hopefully somewhat buoyant for women and minorities and others who feel oppressed – that we shouldn’t let this loss affect our commitment to working for a better world.

My latest esoteric reading has been a book about Michel de Montaigne, a 16th century French philosopher who rather than writing theoretical treatises, tried to ask (and answer) more practical questions.  How should we interpret being afraid of the dark?  What should we do about being afraid of death? How can we live a happy life in the face of life’s challenges?

If Montaigne wrote today, he might be seen as a self-help guru.  He wrote at a time that was dogged by the same issues we are today.  His world was rocked by the battle between the Catholic Church and new upstart Protestant movements, leading to civil and international war, prevalent torture and occasions such as witch burnings, beheadings, peasant uprisings and breakouts of the Black Plague.  Sounds a little like today’s ISIS, racial violence, Ebola and the current rise of new dictatorial and intolerant governments.

You may know the old maxim that “disaster” and “opportunity” are the same word in Chinese.  Montaigne, who I am trying to emulate, said find a way to stay positive, distract yourself by looking at the good in life, observe your own reaction to what is going on around you (be mindful, as we say today) and don’t give up.

Here’s to you, Montaigne, and to the next four years!

Zack Gross is a former Executive Director of Brandon’s
The Marquis Project.

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