Election Burnout? How To Recover
November 3, 2016
I'm sick of the election and don't want to write about it anymore. So today I'm writing about compassion, which we will all need regardless of what happens next Tuesday.
Five decisive days to go, how will we get through it?
50% of Americans will be unhappy with whoever wins the most caustic election we’ve had. Unhappiness, anger, and the fears that drive us; this is what will surround us next week. How to cope?
You do know that a year from now, say two, to be safe, it’s likely we’ll worry about other things. Yet this weekend, this month, you can almost see the disillusionment feeding cynicism toward a place you might not want to go.
Senator Cory Booker has been sending out an email message, saying our capacity for grace and compassion in the face of great challenges defines who we are as Americans.
Do you think it might be possible to encounter people who opposed your own views without being bothered by these other people?
Have compassion for Anthony Weiner? Could you do that?
No? Imagine how it must feel to be ridiculed everywhere. Or, at a minimum, caught with your privacy down?
Could you find compassion for all the people who did not vote for the winner?
Then, could you give compassion to all of us in the U.S. for the way the world looks at our candidates, and by extension, us?
Can you find compassion for James Comey, with what he did in July, then what he did this week? Not indicting Hillary, claiming he found no intention, while severely condemning her; then adding more fuel this week, telling us he felt compelled legally to do that? How seriously is his star tarnished, and can he feel it? Can you feel what must be his pain, whatever you believe were his own intentions?
Either we elect Trump and he's a jerk, or we elect Hillary and we endure four years of spotlights on scandals.
Can you find a little compassion for us all?
How about some compassion for Bernie Sanders and what he must be feeling and thinking?
Can you gather up any compassion for Al Gore?
Could you feel compassion for those women affected so by Donald Trump?
Same Q regarding Bill Clinton?
Can you find a bit of compassion for a writer who is merely trying to suggest that you’ll live a lot longer if you can grow your compassion for other people?
Do you recognize there’s a difference between empathy and compassion? Each is a way of reacting to another person’s difficult situation. Empathy is when you share someone’s emotions; compassion is that, plus an active wish to relieve someone’s suffering. It goes further than empathy in wanting to help.
Let’s say you have a friend who’s pretty bummed about their candidate losing. Might be your friend is angry; or perhaps just feeling down. Is there anything you could do to give some relief, in a “we’re all human beings” sort of way?
Scientific American reports that wealthy people show lower levels of compassion. This doesn’t mean you, Dear Readers, right?
That reasoning, suggested by leaders of one study? They think it might be that wealth, and abundance, give a person independence from other people; the less one relies on others, the less one may care about their feelings.
Say it isn’t so. In a nation of aspirationists, is this where we’d hope to be?
If you feel compassion, it doesn’t mean you feel what the other person feels. That’s empathy.
You can be compassionate without feeling you’re in the same situation.
So if your candidate/ party/ ballot initiative wins next week, and you feel surrounded by people less joyful, what to do? While you’re trying to imagine how you’d feel in their situation, try being compassionate. The antonym is having no mercy, being indifferent.
You don’t have to be sad if the other person is; you just have to want to relieve their pain. That emotion might help you both to heal.
If you see people suffering, and you feel overwhelmed, try being compassionate; it might reduce your own stress.
I suspect their own stress reduction isn’t the motivating factor for most British people; their culture seems to instill a genuine desire to help people having a hard time. The British character evolved this way; they’re so proud of it they celebrate yearly with a “Pride of Britain” event giving awards to people making the world better, calling compassion the best of human values.
Could you find a bit of compassion for Donald Trump if he loses?
Might you feel some compassion for Hillary if she loses? This election could be viewed as a real tragedy for this woman many accuse of feeling “entitled” to win; it’s not likely to have felt easy to someone facing first, Bernie Sanders, then the antic-filled Donald Trump.
Maybe the ones we might feel compassion for are mainly you and me. A little charity at home couldn’t hurt.
©Carole Bell 2016 Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.
You can write to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org