A New President
The pollsters mined reams of data before last week’s election—they hoped to predict who would be the next President. In this 21st century, we rely on science and technology to provide us with answers. We carry computers (aka smartphones) in our pants pockets that provide us with instant information about every aspect of our lives and the world around us. Yet, last week’s election results just go to show you—we don’t always know what people will do.
Free will reigns.
I happened to be in London, eating breakfast in a pub, on the day when Great Britain’s Brexit vote was tallied. The shock and surprise were palatable. Few urban dwellers thought that the electorate would vote to leave the European Union. Many of the people we talked to said the same thing—it was about immigration, fear of terrorism, and jobs.
We like to nourish the illusion that we can predict the future. It provides us with a sense of security and stability. When these predictions go upside down, even if we are happy with the results, we are left feeling anxious and worried. What happened? This can also occur when a business starts or fails, a relationship begins or ends, or we start a new job or lose an old one. All of sudden, the future seems uncertain.
Every morning, on the way to work, I pass the flattened landscape that used to be the Kimberly-Clark factory in Everett. Nothing remains but crushed stone. I think about the 100’s of people that lost their jobs when the factory closed. I wonder what they’re doing today. What was a bustling factory is now an empty lot? It’s a potent reminder---the one constant in life is change.
Many political scientists, economists, and sociologists are trying to figure out the meaning of these election results. It was a very close race—with many states going one way or the other by only thousands of votes. Voters who supported the winner are happy. Those that supported the loser are sad. But probably all of us wonder—what will the future hold?
The state of uncertainty that comes with unanticipated change can result in anxiety and fear. It is the unknown that we worry about. Yet, in reality, the future is always unknown. In other instances, uncertainty can inspire hope that change will result in something better.
In my 65 years I have lived through many world-shaking events—the Vietnam War, the Civil rights movement of the 60’s, the Cuban missile crisis, Martin Luther King’s march on Washington, the Kennedy assassination, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Soviet Union, the peaceful end of apartheid in South Africa and the most amazing one to me, the election of an African-American President in my lifetime. I have lived through many presidents too—Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama.
I hope to see even greater changes in my older adulthood—peace in the Mideast, better care of mother Earth, the end of poverty and hunger, and peace between nations. I am forever hopeful.
I don’t know about making America “great” again—I would happily settle for simply becoming better. But where does better begin?
I believe that it begins with each and every one us. When each of us becomes better, so will America.