Joetopia

10 ways we can put the anger behind us and move ahead together

President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.
President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The Associated Press

I don’t want to argue any more about the election.

In fact, I don’t want to argue any more, period.

I don’t know how much this will be possible, but I’m going to make an effort.

This has been a toxic year, and we are poisoning ourselves as a people, taking spoonful after spoonful of a vile soup filled with mistrust, lies, conspiracy theories and hate on a level we haven’t seen in decades.

Just about no one has been exempt from adding their vitriol to the mix, whether it’s a dash from your third cousin on Facebook or the entire ladlefuls provided at times by now President-elect Donald Trump.

We could continue to fight about who’s more to blame for the current mental state of our nation, but that’s not going to do anyone any good.

This is not to say those on the left should stand down and be run over by the Republican consolidation of power in Washington.

Many good and noble battles lie ahead, for sure, but we must elevate these discussions to a higher level of maturity. We must restore a civil discourse and shine a light on hate wherever it hides, whether in dark corners or plain sight.

We must reduce the snide comments, put away the offensive T-shirts and never, ever condone language that exhorts violence.

You with the “Trump that bitch” shirt? Get rid of it. You who think it’s OK to advocate for assassination of the incoming commander-in-chief? Shut your mouth.

Nobody will be removing Donald Trump from the White House. Nobody will be throwing Hillary Clinton in jail. Both are fool’s errands and a waste of energy that should be directed to more positive ends.

If you choose to vigorously pursue either of those strategies at this point, you are only contributing to a perpetuation of grief.

We can accept that our system of democracy has produced a result without supporting that result, knowing that the American experiment is still just that — but is built on strong foundations and has endured far more difficult challenges than this.

With that in mind, I would like to offer a framework for our future conversations and some simple advice as we proceed into a new era unlike any we’ve seen before.

1. Stop being angry. We must do this, each and every one of us, or we’ll tear the nation apart.

2. If you do get upset, resist the urge to lash out. Especially resist the urge online. Everyone on Facebook, I’m talking to you.

3. Find a way to open a dialog with someone you don’t agree with. Look for common ground. You can do this without compromising your principles.

4. Become an educated citizen. This means breaking out of your echo chamber and widening your sources of information. Search out reasonable voices who gravitate to the middle. Exorcise voices that cling to the fringes, and thrive off division. Limbaugh/Hannity listeners, I’m talking to you.

5. Separate fact from opinion. This is a big one. Know the difference and appreciate it. Don’t discount facts because they clash with your worldview.

6. Separate truth from lies. We must restore some semblance of trust and honesty. We must expose people who cultivate lies or who create fertile gardens where those lies can grow. Tend to your gardens with care. Mark Zuckerberg, I’m talking to you.

7. Strive for moderation in everything you do. Don’t have 12 beers; have two. Don’t turn it up to 11; turn it up to 5.

8. Vote. Millions of Americans who cast ballots in 2012 didn’t this year. “Bernie or Bust” people, I’m talking to you.

9. Respect each other. Really, just be nice! Engage in your community face to face so you can empathize with others’ concerns. Shoot, just hold the door open for someone. It begins there.

10. Finally, don’t ever, ever, ever lose hope. Don’t assume the worst; believe in the best. If you’re still feeling down, go watch “The Shawshank Redemption.”

This has been a trying time. I know.

But there is only one way to go, and it’s not left or right. The only way to go is forward.

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