Wading Through Bias I Didnt Know I Had
Every time I sit down to think lately my brain is overwhelmed with politics. I feel like I need to really sift through and release these issues before I can clearly tackle anything else. No, I am not gonna tell you to vote for, so don't get squeamish. I am simply going to unravel my own thought process here, and hopefully that will help some other people to do the same.
I don't usually get this bothered by presidential campaigns. I always kind of thought that congressional elections were more important anyway. I've always kind of viewed the presidential campaigns as just being full of empty promises that cannot be fulfilled without a congress that supports them. For some reason, this year, I am upset. I watched all of the DNC and RNC videos in an attempt to get clear on what I was really thinking and what really upset me, and it didn't seem to help. So I thought it was time that I really ask myself why and remain open for the answer.
I have to admit that like a lot of people in this country I am a little afraid. And being as I have spent a great deal of time and effort releasing fears, I am not all that comfortable with acknowledging that. Initially, I thought I was afraid of the options. I thought I was afraid of Trump and I thought I was afraid of Clinton. But if there is anything my experience with fear has taught me, its that fear is never that simple, and never that external. There is always a deeper layer to get to the root. And it always comes from within.
I am not afraid of Trump. I am afraid of the number of people who seem to be incited by the hostile view he represents. Regardless of who wins this election, the hatred and resistance that has come to light will still be there. It seems to go against everything I was raised to take pride in our flag representing. I am afraid of the possibility that perhaps we have not come as far as I had thought. Perhaps humanity as a whole is not as open to diversity as I had hoped. Perhaps we are focused on division. We are all capable of hate and separation. I had removed myself too far from that Idea. Perhaps I need this reminder. Perhaps I need to acknowledge the parts of myself that are steeped in judgment and separation. Perhaps I need to do more for diversity. Maybe I am afraid of my own ignorance to what is and my own passive acceptance of whatever comes to be. In this introspection it has dawned on me that if there is this much anger, hatred, and resistance to diversity in the world, how am I doing my part to to change that? I have been sitting here telling myself that the world has changed and that we are all okay. I have assumed that because I accept differences, the world must do the same. I now see that it is up to me to stand up against division and to empower others to embrace diversity. I now see that no action, is inaction. That there has to be something I can do in this world to make a difference and that I must actively use my voice to stand against injustice when I see it in my daily life... not just via social media after some tragedy has occurred. I have decided to incorporate diversity training into my corporate coaching program. I have also added a fun informal diversity session to my cubscout calendar for the fall. I am reaffirming my commitment. It's a step, and it's a start.
Then, I thought about Hillary. Why do I dislike her? What does she represent that I am unable to accept, when I am so willing to accept so many others? I thought about this for a few days before it really dawned on me. It has nothing to do with her lies or any confidential emails. I honestly dont care about that. People are people, they make mistakes. Oddly enough I can accept mistakes that were seemingly made from a place of self doubt and a bit of a survival instinct to get to the top and to protect oneself after getting there. I am not saying I agree with these actions, but I understand where they come from and that we all operate from dark places from time to time, and while I would not prefer that the president of this nation engage in such activities, I am going to assume that most people running in that position will have done something questionable at some point if we dig deep enough. Haven't we all? So what bothers me about her? Is it the way she stands? The way she talks? It took me days to unravel this opposition, but I think it is all based on schemas. Schemas that I have for women and schemas that i have for the president. So maybe I am a bit sexist. I dont know. I am fairly certain that I have an inner expectation for the president to be a male. When I think of "president" I think of JFK or Abraham Lincoln. I think of what I associate as strong males with broad shoulders and strong moral characters who are not afraid to stand up for them. The schemas that I have in my brain for women are not as strong or secure. They are soft and malleable and unsure. I dont know where these schemas come from, but I know they are there. Some of the strongest people I know are women, but these schemas are still there. Because I have not previously associated the role of president with a woman and my brain seems to rely a bit on social stereotypes of what a woman is, it's not clicking for me. What makes it even harder is that Hillary herself does not fit my schema for woman. She doesnt seem to be gentle or nurturing or malleable... and that is kind of hard for me to accept as well. I feel like if I want to vote for a "woman" I should vote for a "woman" as the social construct defines her to be. So yes, I say that I am all about diversity, but here I am forming prejudicial assumptions based on schemas. It is time to break open those folders and add to them. It is time to look at the women in my life, at their strength and their leadership, and to broaden that schema that has been so narrowed by social gender stereotypes. It is time to write new schemas for what I think a president should represent and figure out which one of these characters, including third party options, most align with that. It is time to really examine my own tendency to attribute certain qualities to a particular sex, and become aware of my own assumptions so that I can stop them before they are formed.
I still don't know what I am going to do when its time to vote in this election, because honestly I am also a little afraid of throwing my vote away if I vote outside of the main parties. But I am a little clearer on where my emotions are coming from and why they should not play a role in my decision process. When it comes time to vote, I will make an informed platform-based decision without these emotional hurdles getting in my way. And I am a little more sure of what I can do to release schemas and more fully embrace diversity in my life. I hope that sharing this process will inspire you to ask yourself what is really bothering you, where those emotions are coming from, and what you can do to begin to create change in your own life. You can do this with any situation! In spite of having recognized my own shortcomings in this process, I am now more committed to diversity. And having recognized some of the barriers that prevent me from full embracing diversity today, I can move toward a more encompassing approach tomorrow. from fully living that commitment today, I can move toward a more encompassing approach tomorrow.