Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Self as Human Portal

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I write this at a time I suspect no one will read it. US election results are coming in and Trump is dangerously close to winning. Even knowing the electoral votes system. It looks bad.

No one should care what I think, but here is it anyway. 

I had said that even if Hillary wins, America has a problem on its hands. Half of them supported Trump. 

I had also reflected that those of us who are educated, demonizing those who voted Trump? That’s a problem. Even if I am not American, not voting, and it’s entirely possible that no Trump supporter will ever speak to me…because: Muslim. But I refuse to believe that. Naively?

I have a virtual friend who voted Brexit. She offered to provide a room for anyone going to London for my keynote. It reminded me that even though she is possibly the only Facebook friend I have who is pro Brexit, that she is kind. And she cares about me and my friends even though I thought her Brexit vote indicated otherwise. 

(Hillary-supporting) Americans are probably asking themselves one of 3 questions 

  1. What did I do to prevent Trump from winning (wrong question imho)
  2. What did I do to prevent Trump from rising to power with such a great base of supporters
  3. What   will I do now moving forward. 

Question #2 is important to recognize that people who support someone like Trump didn’t just come into existence this year. There’s a reason he is winning and it is based on years of some failure of communication and understanding among Americans. 

But question #3 is most important because no matter how bad today is, it’s reversible. In at least another 4 years, whatever the damage done, you wanna make damn sure you have influenced a change in perspective (although Trump’s actions post election may already have done the deed on everyone’s behalf).

I am amomg the most politically naive and disconnected people I know. So take this all with a grain of salt. But here goes

When Egyptians were choosing between Morsi (Muslim brotherhood) and Shafik (previously connected to the Mubarak regime) I nullified my vote. Because empathy. Because I put myself in the shoes of a Christian Egyptian and I wouldn’t be able to look them in the eye after voting Brotherhood (also: if I were Muslim living in a Western country i wouldn’t want people to vote for another religious party to oppress me; also as a liberal Muslim I don’t believe anyone should rule others on that basis). I also could not vote Shafik because I could not look the families of 2011 revolution martyrs and tell them I voted for the corrupt establishment candidate again… That the revolution was for naught. 

It made no difference in the end. We got Brotherhood then we got establishment. What have I done since then to ensure future choices for my children look better? Nothing. Not a single thing. But don’t be like me, America.

Even in your darkest hour remember: this is reversible in 4 years. What are you going to do moving forward?
Take a deep breath. Recognize that you can’t reach those who are too different from you. But that there are people who are bridges and portals for you and for others. Find the people with common ground and find a way to talk to them. More importantly: listen to them. Because you may, in fact, be making incorrect assumptions about them. Because education in theory does not necessarily help you understand people in practice. And all our theory means nothing if they don’t work in practice. 

There are people in my family who voted Morsi and people who voted Shafik. None of them are bad people. Just because I sat on a high horse and nullified doesn’t mean I contributed to any kind of solution.

I know. 4 years is a long time. And Trump is just a person. But it’s not about Trump. It’s about half of America. The half I know isn’t reading this blog. And you’re the other half. What are you going to do?

In the meantime. Lots of love and hugs

6 electoral votes remaining for Trump to win. 🙁

P.S. Even closer now. And Republicans won the house and senate too. I know it looks like Armageddon but it cannot be

8 Comments

  1. It had me reflecting deeply on what I can do. I realize that I have little opportunities to make a difference, but I am a teacher, and I CAN make a difference. I will ensure that my course teaching critical instructional design. I think it is important that we remember all the students in the room. In the leadership course I’m teaching, I’m going to also teach cultural diversity. These were topics that were already in my courses, I just see them now as the MOST important topics in my courses – the ones that need to be emphasized because that is how I can make a real difference.

  2. I, like Rebecca, have spent some time coming out of my shock and sadness to think about where I am and what I’m going to do. This is what I came up with: I will no longer sit and wait for democracy to happen and expect watching news channels to validate my opinions will change anything. I can write and speak. And I will take an active role in an organization that values ideas, intellect, and humanity. As a teacher, I will listen and always be the other side of opinions, values, and connections. Nothing that is learned is given, but earned through work. I just starting to rise from the blow, cautiously and with something learned.

  3. A big advantage of a true democracy that this can be changed in 4 years.

    What does teaching cultural diversity mean in this context?
    Can we teach all cultures in a neutral way to our students ?
    Can we tell neutrally to our students that in some cultures habit X is normal if it is something we dislike?

    Each individual brings her/his cultural background into the equation every time.

  4. Hi Maha: you will be pleased to know that the first call President-elect Trump received from overseas after his victory announcement from from President al-Sisi.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/egypts-sisi-says-spoke-donald-trump-telephone-congratulated-094905815.html

  5. Glad that your are trying to figure this out. I am not sure how far the Brexit analogy extends. If Bernie Sanders had won the primary and beaten Trump, no one would be making that analogy even though the same underlying Brexit motivations would have still existed. The fact remains that the Democratic establishment fronted an impossibly flawed candidate. Many of those who didn’t vote might have actually been voting for none of the above, a category that I have always wanted on American ballots.
    I say beware the easy, path-of-least-resistance narrative. It short-circuits the longer, more elliptical and nuanced stories that we need to tell to really explain to ourselves how we are going to live with each other in an increasingly crowded planet. No story I heard during the election here rose to that level. Why? Because fear is so much easier and love requires hands on.
    I could have told anyone who wanted to know just how disaffected rural folk are. They still are. It is the next level of disaffectiion, the one that comes when Trump voters realize that he is not going to be the raging giant of American exceptionalism that he made himself out to be, that will be the real seismic event. The pent up violence in that well is full of guns and blood and jolly well more for us ‘in country’ and for damn sure others elsewhere as we play out our happy internecine family problems on a global map. Three years in. I hope to hell I am wrong.

  6. Right. It’s not just about Trump. It’s about the fact that he ran on an white supremacy agenda — and so many white people supported that. We have to recognize the racism and sexism that still exist in this country, and fight that.

    The tough part is that we can’t wait four years to fix some of the problems that a Trump presidency will bring. Right now, we need a strong leader who will take steps to battle climate change. Trump thinks it’s a hoax. There’s strong evidence that he is on the side of the fossil fuel industry. Climate change is a problem that needed to be addressed YESTERDAY. We simply don’t have time to wait this out.

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