Meryl Streep nailed it. Her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes was dignified, on point and demonstrated just how shocked us ‘liberal lefties’ still are by the shenanigans of the President Elect, and the coterie that promoted, and now defends him. As she said, these words and actions will undoubtedly have a trickle down effect. The general populace takes their cues from those in the limelight, be it in the political arena or in the entertainment one.
Yes, we remain appalled. We shudder collectively at what may follow. We see reason, common sense, tolerance and free speech becoming casualties in the path of this juggernaut of self aggrandisement and insular politics.
Perhaps it is time for some introspection as well. Why has this come to pass? What signs and signals did we miss? Did we become so cocooned in our liberal bubbles that we refused to recognise the disaffected and the disenfranchised?
On WordPress a while ago, I began following a writer simply because a particular post of his appealed to me. Over time though, I realised that his political ideology was so different from mine, so far right that it seemed almost alien. A number of times I nearly unfollowed him, but something stopped me. This man’s posts made me uncomfortable. They made me cringe, get annoyed, even want to throw something at the computer. But it was important that I listened to what else was out there. It was important that I realised that my way of thinking wasn’t the only way of thinking.
It’s easy to surround oneself with like minded people. That’s what we do. That’s what we did. We read what we wanted to. We agreed with each others’ opinions. We believed that everyone around us wanted the same things as us. How wrong we were proven!
To believe that everyone who voted Trump did so because they were misguided, misogynistic racists would be equivalent to believing that everyone who voted out in Brexit was an old fogey who wanted to make Britain ‘great again’. There were valid concerns on both sides of the pond. People were fed up of elitist, out of touch governments that imposed laws and regulations that hit the pockets of the common man. People were fed up of mass immigration, of terrorist attacks, and of treading softly in arenas where they wanted hard payback. More than anything else, people were fed up of not being listened to. So, they spoke the only way they knew how. Through their votes.
Am I condoning or endorsing the results? Most certainly not. But I am cautioning that we need to start listening. Listening to those with opposing, even abhorrent views. Fight them, debate them, scoff and mock them, if you will. Just don’t be that proverbial ostrich that buries its head in the sand, and hopes the problem goes away.
There is no doubt in my mind that the times ahead will be tumultuous. We are bound to see a lot of ugliness, a lot of upheaval and chaos. In times like these, it will be important to engage, to challenge and to resist, without losing sight of one’s own moral compass.
People like Meryl Streep are doing this already. Take your cue from her. Alongside however, don’t forget to look, listen and learn.
‘Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored’ – Aldous Huxley