Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What did you lose last night?

I knew it would happen. I woke up this morning and had a feeling Facebook would explode with both love and hate. However, since I didn't stay up to see who won the Presidential Election, I didn't know which emotion would dominate my news feed? 

I do live in Texas, so it was safe to suppose that if Romney won I would see posts of joy and jubilation. If Obama won, which I now know he did, then I would see frustration, despair and hatred. There are times when Facebook newsfeeds are boring and lifeless; I had a feeling this morning would be anything but. And when I finally had a break from work at 10 am, Facebook didn't disappoint. 

There have been angry, rhetorical remarks, "How could our country be so stupid?" And insults, "Those poor idiots who voted for Obama don't know what's coming." And finally, appeals to the absurd, "Stupid people shouldn't be allowed to vote." Regrettably, I've also seen long-time friends turn against each other, trading comments as if they were jabs and uppercuts. Why?

So much rides on our Presidential Elections. It seems each year America breaks records for the inordinate amounts of time, money and energy both candidates and their supporters pour into each contest. And that is partly what excites me about democracy: people mobilize for change. It's no surprise, then, when people feel angry because their candidate didn't win. 

The trouble, however, comes when people face loss and then feel like losers. Anger and hatred are really secondary emotions, they speak to something deeper, a cause for rage and outbursts of anger. In the case of last night's election, I am certain of the cause for most people's anger: insecurity. 

If you are a Romney fan who is inexplicably angry this morning, then you may not like what I'm about to say. The good news is, both Democrats and Republicans need to hear this because both are human (though even that is contested on Facebook). Most Republicans who are pissed this morning feel that way because they feel uncertain about the future. They put a lot of hope and trust in Romney to change the country, economy and even their lives. "Now that Obama has been reelected, who knows what will happen?" This is called insecurity and if you feel this way, you are not alone. 

As one who has always wrestled with insecurity, let me reassure you that what you lost last night was not anything you needed anyway. If you are angry and feeling uncertain today, all you lost was a sense of security that was not real, or safe. Because no matter who is elected or who loses, all of us will face hardships in the next four years - it's inevitable. Unfortunately, some of us believe (including me, at one time) that the President of the United States will fix all of that. 

If I'm describing you, then I must say I'm not sorry for your loss. If anything, this is an opportunity to find out what you really trust in? Where does your hope really lie? Over what issues are you willing to lose a friend, and why? If your identity and security are so inseparably bound to a political party, sports team or another human being, you will always be disappointed. You will continue to be angry and your emotions will be continually tossed like flag in the wind. You won't be much fun to be around, either. But if you are willing to take a chance, step out into the unknown and search for security, the anger and fear will eventually fade and be replaced by something called "life." The choice is yours, but not because we live in a democracy, because we are human. 

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