The night of the 2016 presidential election I stayed up late to hear the results. I’d been anxious about the election because of the viciousness of the campaign rhetoric. If Hillary Clinton were elected, it would mean that life in the United States would go on more or less as it had before and there would be stability. With Donald Trump as president, it could be a descent into chaos. And maybe chaos was what we needed to eventually reach the kind of change that our country — and indeed, the world — is anxious for.
I preferred continued stability and a slower rate of change, but as a sometime student of chaos theory, I understood that our country might need the chaos generated by a Donald Trump presidency to evolve into something new and greater than it ever has been — not a return to past greatness.
Donald Trump’s election has motivated many of us who have traditionally been passive and apolitical to become involved. His election showed me that I wasn’t living in the country I thought I was. Many others have expressed this same reaction. In discussing this with a friend, we decided that we needed to listen to those whose opinions differ from ours and whom we’ve previously dismissed.
I began my ‘listening’ through Facebook. I found websites that published articles that explored issues in depth from various sides. I also read the comments on posts from both conservatives and liberals. I found anger, outrage and finger pointing on both sides. I heard beneath these comments emotions of anxiety, fear, and confusion. The world is changing in ways we cannot comprehend and have little control over. We, as humans, tend to look for someone to blame to make sense of the incomprehensible. And sometimes in doing so we create greater divisions and add to the problems we want resolved.
What has also become clear to me is that little of this is about Donald Trump. He has given voice to the concerns of those of us who haven’t felt that we have been heard. But he is the focus and NOT the cause. I am grateful that he has brought to light the divisions within our communities and our nation as a whole. I want to do what I can to heal our collective woundedness.
I knew the day after the election that I could no longer remain a passive bystander. I didn’t know what I could do, but I had to do something. I shrink from conflict. I don’t do it well. I do not have the mental agility to engage in debate and confront others about issues. I don’t have the stamina for it either. There are many others who are better suited for that sort of activism. What kept going through my mind as I was pondering what I could do was a quote from Edmund Burke, an 18th century Irish statesman:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Eventually I remembered my master’s project on idealized systems design (ISD) and that those who developed the ISD discipline did so with the intention of influencing global change in accordance with deeply held values. What if I could give others tools from ISD to help them cope with the chaos of our changing world? And while I was thinking about that, I remembered other writing projects — some from my past and some unfinished and waiting to be addressed. Only a few of them have been shared with others.
Maybe I could write for another Facebook page or set up a blog. I could share what I’ve written of my journey and do it as an invitation to others to make their own journeys or to rediscover — or perhaps discover for the first time — journeys already taken. I wouldn’t want my writing to be noticed as much as I’d want it to point readers to their own insights and experiences and the deep wisdom that each of us carries.
But what would I call this blog? The topics I want to address don’t connect well enough to generate a descriptive label. And furthermore, I’m no expert on anything except my own life! My life — by circumstance, by necessity, by calling, and by choice — has been primarily a journey of inner exploration. The topics connect for me because I’ve lived them. Could they connect for readers?
When I researched the quote about the “triumph of evil” to verify both the wording and the author, I discovered another quote from Edmund Burke:
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
It was not an easy decision to go forward with the project of writing a blog. I could without difficulty rationalize inactivity because of the inadequacy of my credentials. But I don’t want to make the mistake of doing nothing. And so for now, this is the “little” I can do.