Questions I’m Asking Myself in Our New Present

Saturday, November 19, 2016 - 5:30 am

Questions I’m Asking Myself in Our New Present

However small my “public” might be, it’s been hard to be a public person this week and last. I’m, quite frankly, crushed by the election results, grieving and reading and talking and looking into my daughters’ eyes and trying to make sense of it all. So rather than offer you 750 words or so of pat answers or even half-digested insights, this week, I offer you questions. These are just some of the ones I’m asking. What are yours?

How can I investigate where people hurt without condoning their bigotry?

Is it unsafe to take the “long view”? Unsafe for whom?

Why don’t we attribute the appropriate weight to moral recklessness versus strategic miscalculation?

Why don’t we expect more integrity from our leaders? And why don’t we better understand what compromise leaders with integrity have to make?

What is the nature of the bubble I live in — both geographic and online? How can I burst it at every opportunity?

What is the wisest, most powerful white counterforce to white supremacy? What is the new language for making a moral whiteness possible?

How can we counter the internet trolls and racists and sexists and xenophobes and confused teenagers who have been empowered to take hateful action because of Trump’s behavior?

Will this fear and hatred inevitably die with its carriers? Or will their children, ever fewer in number, become even more dangerous?

Who are the new allies to anti-racist, anti-sexist work who have been woken up through this election result, and how do we pull them into collective action?

Who is he really? Does he even know?

What do I really know about how government works? How can I learn more in the context of a busy life?

Should we move back to the Midwest, where we are from? How can white people hold one another accountable across geographic distance?

How could we have done this to our babies and our elders?

How can we get rid of the Electoral College?

How do I counter the existential dread that has taken root in my body?

What does it look like to create safer spaces for my people to gather and process what they’re thinking and feeling, and the kind of action they want to take now?

How can storytelling heal this country and what are its limitations? What other tools do we have?

Who are the people in my own life who might have voted for him, and how can I create constructive conversations with them about why?

How could 53 percent of white women vote for him? What does this indicate about what they expect from men?

How can we honor Hillary Clinton’s tireless courage?

What new institutions and cultural practices do we need to create so people feel less isolated, angry, and hateful?

How can we improve public education so people have more critical thinking skills?

What role did journalism place in creating the soil for his win and how can we return to a practice of delivering regionally-contextualized, reliable information to people who need it most?

How could more solutions-based coverage make the electorate smarter and more hopeful?

How can I personally play a role in making a Trump presidency as non-harming as possible? What are the small wins amidst this larger loss?

In what ways will this reality check unleash a new era of coalition-building on behalf of human dignity?

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Contributor

is a columnist for On Being. Her column appears every Friday.

Her newest book, The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream, explores how people are redefining the American dream (think more fulfillment, community, and fun, less debt, status, and stuff). Courtney is the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network and a strategist for the TED Prize. She is also co-founder and partner at Valenti Martin Media and FRESH Speakers Bureau, and editor emeritus at Feministing.com.

Courtney has authored/edited five books, including Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, and Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Harming Young Women. Her work appears frequently in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Courtney has appeared on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, MSNBC, and The O’Reilly Factor, and speaks widely at conferences and colleges. She is the recipient of the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics and a residency from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre. She lives with her partner in life and work, John Cary, in Oakland, and their daughters Maya and Stella. Read more about her work at www.courtneyemartin.com.

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