November 16, 2016.
VOL. XVIII NO. 5
Thoughts for a Monday: Let’s Care for Each Other and the Planet
By Jonathan and Deanne Ater
The Aters sent the following to family and friends on Monday the 15th and gave us permission to share it. Scroll to the bottom of this missive to comment on this and your post-election mood. Click here to reflect on Yale President Salovey’s views on bulldog diversity and community.
We were and are still in shock and trying to sort out what happened and what this all means — not just Trump’s victory, but the cultural forces which are at work in our country and the world. Here are some thoughts for this Monday.
Sadly, Gwen Ifill died this morning. She was such a rock of civility, smarts and charm. We will miss her. The tone she set for public discourse is so often missing from our culture today.
We watched an interesting short piece on CBS yesterday where Ted Koppel sat down with several folks in what was once a bustling West Virginia coal county, now depopulated and dying from loss of work. The people seemed genuine — not racist or bigoted — and were both black and white. At least some recognized that coal is not coming back. The county voted 4-1 for Trump, although it had once been a Democratic stronghold. It is really easy to understand their frustration. The social compact is not working for these folks. It is hard to understand why they chose Trump. They obviously felt that the Democratic Party had failed them. But, in truth, what seems to be happening to these folks has little to do with the party in power and much to do with the state of the planet as a whole.
We also watched a very interesting Tavis Smiley interview of Thomas Friedman, recorded the day after the election. Friedman’s basic point — made in most of his recent books, including one just coming out — is that globalization is a fact of life. He now says there are three rapidly accelerating forces — climate change, technological change, and global commerce — which are disrupting life as humans have known it over the past several centuries. These disruptions are fundamental and not the result of any particular political leadership. Whatever you think of Friedman’s work, the interview with Tavis was particularly interesting, likely because Tavis is a very provocative thinker himself. Here is a link: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/thomas-friedman/?show=28661.
We think it was worth the 22 minutes! Another interesting Tavis interviewee was Stephen Cohen, a professor emeritus of Russian studies, who talked about our interaction with Russia, and his concerns that Russia is acting partially in response to what it sees as our provocations.
The demonstrations in Portland, our home town, and elsewhere are a fascinating response. (What would we all be thinking if Hillary had won and the Trump folks were in the streets?) Perhaps the effect will be to send a message to those Republicans who are still rational that they need to keep the trains on the tracks and not try to govern with a wrecking ball. What about the million-women march proposed for the day after the Inauguration? What is the message? What can be the hoped-for outcome? Actually, people may just be exhibiting profound frustration with the world we find ourselves in. Where is the hope?
We couldn’t bring ourselves to watch the 60 Minutes interview of Trump. He is such a distasteful multi-faced person. And then there was the picture of Priebus and Bannon in a gold-plated elevator. These guys are the saviors of the working class???
At noon, we watched the entirety of President Obama’s press conference. He was thoughtful, pensive, eloquent, insightful, and proud of the progress that has been made on his watch. How tragic that the Rs made it impossible for him to achieve what might have been. Now we must wonder, anticipate and perhaps fear what they will do now that they have power.
These are scary times. But, let’s try to care for each other and the planet.
— Jonathan and Deanne