Emotional Health · Politics

True North: Re-Affirming Your Values in a Time of Conflict

It has been a long week since the election, and feelings are still raw. Protests have broken out across the United States among those who oppose the result. Many people who support the president-elect are feeling defensive and some are angry that their views are being challenged. The two candidates were different enough that they left the electorate feeling more polarized than ever, and the divide between us seems to have widened rather than narrowed. Despite pleas from President Obama and even Hillary Clinton, not everyone is ready to accept the result and move on. Citizens and politicians alike are digging in for a long fight. Some Democratic mayors, for example, are vowing to protect their citizens from the deportation that is looming for illegal aliens.

The holidays are just around the corner and plans are unraveling. A patient whose siblings have different views is not going to her family’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner, feeling unable to face the conflict. The New York Times reports this is a common occurrence, and says that holidays and even wedding plans are being altered, citing one woman who has changed the venue of her wedding so that family members who disagree cannot attend. Perhaps an attitude of reconciliation will emerge eventually, but right now, it’s looking difficult.

Part of the problem, I think, is that this election has highlighted differences not just in policy matters but also in fundamental values. People are having difficulty understanding the position of the other side, a problem that has been exacerbated in recent years as more and more of us get information from sources that reinforce our point of view. In addition, The Times writes,

Over the past several decades, the United States has become increasingly segregated by class, with college-educated people marrying, living and socializing apart from less-educated Americans. The result has been that Americans have lost touch with one another, sociologists say, and helps explain why each side is so baffled by the other.

“If you went to Thanksgiving dinner 50 years ago, you’d be very likely to have dinner with people from a different walk of life,” said Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of “Our Kids,” an investigation of class divisions in America. “Today, there are far fewer people who are different from us around that table.”

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  • Karen McLeod Cox November 17, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you. This article may help me recover from my emotional devistation to the point where I can get out to fight another day…..and to fight for the rights of our most vulnerable.

  • Lisa November 17, 2016 at 11:34 am

    When I read ‘True North’ in your title, I was expecting to read something about Canadian values … the line from our national anthem is ‘the True North, strong and free.’ Stay strong, American friends. As our current Prime Minister’s father said back in the 60s, living next door to you ‘is like sleeping with an elephant.’ And try to have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Pauline November 17, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Thank you for writing about this. I think we all have to reaffirm our values and goals and try to stay grounded. Still, it will be harder for those groups that fear being targeted and we must do all we can to fight this and help them feel and be safe!