I followed the American election closely for the first time in my life. It was difficult not to be drawn in by its reality-TV-like presentation. Filled with grandstanding, released "secrets" and jaw-dropping rhetoric, it was impossible to look away. And, it had become exhausting. So, happy that the show was coming to an end, anxious for a hate-mongering candidate to be shown the door and convinced that there was no way such a vitriolic person could represent the hearts and minds of the American people, I tuned in on Tuesday night.
Anticipation fell into disbelief which was ultimately swallowed by despair. I cried. I honestly wept. My heart broke for my American friends. Having read the man's 3 am Twitter rants, knowing that he's now going to be in a position to direct America's benevolence or its wrath, my mind worried for our world. And, then my anger bubbled. How stupid were the American people? And, that's where I got stuck for a few days.As the cloud of emotion lifts, I see my anger as representative of the same ugly sentiments I am condemning in that vote. I am painting a nation of people with a single stroke. And America, like Canada, is anything but a single colour, a single texture, a single style. I can't pretend to understand the motivation of folks who would put a man who has clearly demonstrated throughout his life that he is not a decent human being in such an important position. But I cannot condemn a nation either. A country is populated by people, and people are fallible.
I do know that as Americans sort through their decision, there is much to ponder. They must figure out what has gone so wrong in their country that a man with questionable business acumen, a man with no political experience (Seriously, entry level position is the Oval Office?) and, most importantly, a man who is so proudly lacking in moral values can become president. I also believe that we, as a country, should also be looking around. If we scratch the surface of Canada, what lies beneath? I'd like to think nothing equivalent to what we've seen in the States of late, but then that's what many Americans wanted to believe too.
What can we do to ensure our country remains the idealistic vision we hold of it? What can Americans do to rebuild their optimism in each other and in their future? It starts with kindness and generosity. Extend it to all you meet. Pay it forward, pass it on. Don't wait for the phoenix to rise from the ashes. Build the fire, fan the flames of decency and goodness and light the world.