Building Community: Now more than ever

Like many people around the world, the election of an American President who has actively engaged in and encouraged racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, frightens me. It reminds me of why I never bank on electoral politics to provide the solutions to our nation’s and our world’s problems. Of course, I vote, but in the end of the day, I only have one vote, and in this particular instance, even when the candidate I favored won a majority of the popular vote, our political system nevertheless gave the Presidency to her opponent.

I have spent my entire professional career working for progressive systems change. This election does not alter that. In fact, it will only cause me to work harder on behalf of the disenfranchised people I represent. A former colleague once called me a “good loser.” At first I did not understand that she was giving me a compliment. Then, she explained, that I never give up even after losing a hard fought battle. I simply examine the new situation for the best way forward and get back to working on making our world a better place. That is what we all must do right now.

Starting last night, many people have asked me what they can do in response to America electing perhaps the scariest President in its history. My sister-in-law just called me in tears. The vast majority of our nation was targeted by our President-elect, including women, people of color, Muslims, Jews, Mexicans, and people with disabilities, as somehow less worthy. But we know better. We also know that, now more than ever, we need each other, and together we can still accomplish great things.

So, here are a few suggestions (with underlined links to prior posts for more detail):

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So, today, give hugs to friends and family. Tomorrow, start looking for local projects that you can dive into to make your local community a better place. Together we can build community and create a better world for everyone.

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For more information on how I can help you accomplish progressive, effective systems change, contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his web site: Systems Change Consulting.

The Morning After…the Sun Still Rises

Last night, shortly after the polls closed and the results of both state and federal elections became clear, a friend sent me a message stating that she felt “cheated.”  This morning, many other friends describe their electoral losses in emotional terms of sadness and dismay.

Many years ago, after being particularly surprised by an election loss, I learned not to get too emotionally involved in electoral politics, and this is the advice that I gave my friend last night and continue to give to friends today.  The truth is that after every election, the sun still rises the next morning.

P1030631This doesn’t mean that elections shouldn’t be taken seriously.  After all, in last week’s post, I urged everyone to follow the wise words of Justin Dart and,

Vote as if your Life Depended on it…Because it Does.

However, too many of us give up more power to politicians than they deserve.  After all, despite a wave of conservative Republican victories at the polls yesterday, we are living in an era of unprecedented progressive political and cultural change.  Consider the following dramatic progress that could not have been imagined even one generation ago:

  • The election and re-election of an African-American president;
  • 32 states have legal same sex marriage;
  • 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized either medical marijuana or marijuana generally.

These are not mere electoral or political  shifts.  They signify monumental progressive cultural change which will not be undone by a particular party winning a particular election.

It is also important to remember that in our democracy, no political victory is permanent.  While those who bask in the glow of electoral victory are quick to claim a mandate, they do so at great risk, as they may be in the minority after the next election cycle.  Similarly, those who lose elections need to take time to reassess the reasons why they lost and take responsibility for factors they can change.  Good leaders who continue to fail to accomplish goals understand that it is time for someone else to take leadership.  It will be interesting to see whether Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid recognize this in Congress, or whether leaders of the Democratic Party in states such as Wisconsin recognize that it is time for new people with fresh ideas to take control after repeated electoral defeats.

For me, I got up this morning, meditated, ate breakfast,  walked my dog, and continued to do my job.  After all systems change does not happen in a moment or a day, but involves a complex series of steps, occasionally sideways or backwards, but always knowing that forward momentum is the nature of the world.

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For more information on how I can help you accomplish progressive, effective systems change, contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his web site: Systems Change Consulting.