by Terry Sterrenberg
Every election we choose a dream. Many times if not most of the time the dream we choose never has a chance to be realized before the next election replaces the dream we have chosen. Between elections the “opposing” political party does everything it can to undermine the dream that has been promised.
So did we choose the right dream this year? Hell, I don’t know. But “it is what it is” (To quote a famous person). For me the dream we chose at least let me breathe again – to fill my lungs with a bit of “cool fresh air”. No telling how long that opportunity for freshness will last, but it did clear my mind a bit. And and it opened the space for young people to dance in the streets. Indeed I think it is a time for dancing. At the same time there is distrust in my dance step. I think it is the fear of falling or in clearer terms the fear of being taken in. I don’t think Joe Biden is in any way the answer to my dreams, but he may be a step in the direction to clearing the way.
The problem is of course that elections have BOTH Winners and Losers. We now have a situation where half the country (the Losers) is out to sabotage the other half (the winners) and vice versa. How is this different than anything we have had in the past? Half the country distrusts the other half no matter which half you are part of. That is a huge barrier to any kind of cooperation, change or transformation. Trust is a big deal. Ultimately lack of trust is a heart problem.
So where do we start. I believe we start at home in our own house, in our own neighborhood. Trust comes from the belief that other people take into account my interests, concerns, and well-being in their actions. This does not mean that what they do automatically meets my self interest, but rather that they have included my concerns in deciding their actions and desire to do what is not only beneficial for themselves but also is best for me. The dream I choose has this kind of trust at its center. Trust seems to have two components: consideration and action.
I’m trying to imagine what it would mean for the people in my Staten Island neighborhood to trust me or for me to trust them. Developing trust makes me vulnerable. It may mean that I have to give up some belief valuable to me. I don’t think it is compromise per se., but rather it is acceptance of who other people are and not requiring them to change. I do not give trust freely. Perhaps trust is a process, a process of discovering insight, knowledge , empathy and commonality. And finally it often requires a traumatic discovery of my own actions, beliefs, and prejudices. Developing trust is hard work.
So did we make the right choice? Part of me feels the question is irrelevant when I understand what trust requires. Perhaps we made the best choice considering the options. But I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. We really do not yet know the consequences of our actions.