Post-Election Conversations: Moving out of Blame over a Home-Cooked Meal

This election has elicited strong emotions and passionate debates. I’ve noticed much of the language used in conversations, both in the media and behind closed doors, incorporates victim/blaming language instead of language of curiosity and connection.

“I might as well be a sitting duck. If the government decides to go after gay people I could lose my job, my children could be targeted, my marriage could be nullified. I thought I was safe. We’re talking about if we need to move from our comfortable home and community into a big city so we can be safe. It’s hard to protect my family when I don’t know what’s coming.” Brian, terrified 40 year-old man

“I’m a well-educated, hard-working American who voted for Trump. He says stupid things sometimes, but I will always vote Republican. I’m tired of defending my vote and explaining that I (obviously) don’t endorse racist or homophobic beliefs. I don’t ask my Muslim friends to defend themselves every time a Middle-Eastern terrorist does something terrible; why are people lumping me in with people doing awful things in Trump’s name?” Sal, angry 55 year-old woman

Brian feels threatened and blames people like Sal for electing Trump; Sal feels attacked for her belief in less government and guilty for other people’s actions. Both feel helpless and find themselves coming from positions of defensiveness. At the end of their sessions, both received the same therapy “homework” from me: “Think of a friend or an acquaintance who voted for the opposite person from you. Invite them over for a meal and have a conversation where you both share your emotional experience about this election. This is not a policy debate. Be curious. Listen. Honestly share. See if you can find a basic humanity in each other.”

Research consistently shows that personal and systemic change occurs in relationship and connection with other people. Take a chance this week to reach out to someone outside your comfort zone and see what happens. The health of our local, national and international communities depend on it.