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Finding a Common Narrative After the Election

I haven’t written in awhile. Life’s momentum took me away. Excuses aside, there’s nothing like a polarizing, petrifying election to get the fingers moving again.

What is there to say in the wake of last night’s events? I’m Canadian, so I sit in that interesting seat where I have enough space to see the game from a distanced view – to watch things play out with some perspective – and still know that the ball can (and likely will) fly up into the stands and hit me in the face.

Maybe that’s not a great analogy, but I’m struggling to find anything that compares to what is happening on our continent, in our world, today.

Shock. That’s a start. Fear. Anger. And hope. In between the lines, there’s gotta be hope.

After spending a record amount of time on Twitter I think I’ve heard every kind of contribution possible to the cultural sentiment. So what can I contribute at this point? Maybe nothing. Nothing that beats “Orange is the New Black”, am I right? But I’ll chip in something nonetheless. That’s what democracy is about (…am I right?...)

Right now the world needs a lot of things. Tolerance. Grace. Love. And behind all of those things is story. What we tell ourselves, each other, our children, about what matters and why.

There’s a story behind our decisions and perspectives. There’s a protagonist – someone or something we are rooting for – and there’s the battle that they have (or it has) to achieve its greatest desires.

America is now severely divided. And each side of the fence has a protagonist and a story behind their plight. Most of us have personal feelings tied to those protagonists. They represent something in ourselves, something we desire. Peace. Change. Confidence. Strength. And we want them to overcome their obstacles to achieve those things.

That obstacle in this election is strictly the opposition. The bad guy. Studies showed that almost 50% of Republican supporters feared the consequences of a Democratic win. And over 50% of Democratic supporters felt the same way. This election was based on fear – fear of the result of things not going our way. People weren’t hopeful and excited. They were afraid and angry and hateful. And those emotions come from story.

It’s almost impossible not to feel emotional about the election, whatever side of the fence you are on. We are involved in this story. The drama is intense, the plotline is absorbing and consequential, the protagonists are addictively enticing, if not ridiculous, characters. We are creatures of story, and we are feeding on this like candy.

I don’t know what will come of all of this. And as much as I am tempted to, I am not going to assume I know exactly what is going on in the minds of the individual population – what stories they are telling themselves to justify their position. Because our stories are complicated. And because we are all human, essentially striving for similar things.

What I fear is that we are blind-sighted by our own personal stories and are forgetting that we need to find a common narrative. Despite the hatred and bigotry, despite the intolerance and fear, we need to come together. We need to find a thread and weave it between us – for this all to be worth it. For the world in which my daughters will grow, I pray that we can all find a way to harmonize. Because what’s scarier to me than a clown in the Big Seat is a country of people not being able to look their neighbours in the eye. If we want tolerance, we have to exemplify it. We have to find a way to look past our differences and unite.

He’s in there now. So we need to start writing a narrative that champions the hero (or anti-hero), and gives him a chance, as any good narrative does, to evolve, to win our hearts, and to make things better.

hands in prayer

New Year, New You, New Resume

Our Inner Narrative: Why What We Tell Ourselves is Consequential