The past speaks to us in a thousand voices, warning and comforting, animating and stirring to action. - Felix Adler
If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example. - George Bernard Shaw
I remember as a kid taking high school physics that I was fascinated by vector analysis, the notion of netting out multiple forces with different directions and vector quantities such as displacement, velocity, force and acceleration to find out what ultimate direction and other vector quantities an object being acted upon by these forces would exhibit. (Who knows – maybe they teach this in kindergarten now)
And now as I watch people continue to triumph or melt down down over the election result, my memories turn back to my old physics days, about how a result is the net effect of many of forces coming to bear at a single place and point in time.
But first a background story that caused my old physics days to come to mind.
A long-time friend of more than 25 years recently said goodbye to me because he couldn’t live with the notion that people couldn’t have differences of opinion.
He and I were both immigrants to America.
We both found significant success in America.
But here we diverged a little.
I embraced the nation, being grateful every day that it accepted me as one of its own and that I had equal opportunity to thrive and seize success if I wanted it. When the Star Spangled Banner would play at an event, my eyes would tear up in gratitude to be afforded such opportunity that few in the world dared to hope for.
The nation wasn’t perfect but there were many places in the world that were MUCH worse.
Our differences of opinion were significant although not immediately apparent to me until recently.
I believe a nation’s flag is sacred and while its protection and respectful treatment is not enshrined under law, I believe that to smear the flag is the ultimate insult to a nation.
He believes that burning the flag is a useful form of protest (although he can’t explain how or why).
I believe that our armed forces, law enforcement and first responders in general need to be honored every day for the incredible, unselfish sacrifices they make so that we can go about our business and reach for our dreams.
He believes that the armed forces are an embarrassing example of a primal, degenerate nature that don’t deserve our respect and therefore should not be honored in any way.
I believe in the notion that if we spread any kind of information, it should be authenticated, validated, shared respectfully and built around making the world a better place.
He believes that any information is useful, including false or misleading information, if it accomplishes the objective. He also believes that if this hurts people, then so be it – the ends justify the means.
We have many differences as is usually healthy amongst friends.
However, I drew the line recently when he began promoting pro-hatred rhetoric proven to be lies because he was so disappointed that Hillary Clinton had lost. All was fair in terms of overthrowing the hateful person (in his eyes) that had become the President-elect.
“This man”, he said through his actions, “is an embarrassment to morals and ethics in America. Look at how he treats others including ……” and he listed off a pile of stories that have already been established to not be true.
Feeling a little weary of this series of lectures, I asked him “If you believe so strongly about morals and ethics, why are you cheating on your wife?”
What followed was a blistering attack against me followed by the ever mature, ever useful (not) unfriending.
I am not judging him for cheating on his wife with someone much younger.
When my end-of-days arrives, I will have many things to atone for in my own Life as is true for most of us.
But what I do take umbrage over is when someone lectures others on morals, values and character while reserving the right to be none of the things they expect of others.
And that’s when I got to thinking about vectors in high school physics.
As I have noted in older blog posts:
Trump, for better or for worse, was elected fairly in the greatest democratic process on Earth (despite all its shortcomings). That is something to be championed and not complained about. As I noted in the past, Americans complaining about their President-elect fail to recognize that the winner is not an aberration of their society but is in fact a product of it. Given that, who else could win other than someone who represents a natural evolution of their society? If someone doesn’t like the result of the election, rather than examine the winner, we must examine the system that produced the winner.
Many, many complementary and opposing forces, created over generations, have come together to create the system we have now and the President we have elected.
If we don’t like the election process that was used, the process as it was executed (including by the media and in social media) and the result that it produced, it behooves us to look at the many forces that went into creating and using all three.
When an object (or a President) is propelled in a certain direction in a certain way, it is not merely the actions of the object but the forces (or vector quantities) in place at that moment that propel the object.
The forces aren’t created spontaneously or from thin air.
They come from our actions.
Too often the things we claim to not like are merely the symptoms of a more complex problem or are projections based on our own biases and fears. Knowing the difference between targeting the core issue versus the symptoms means the difference between finding a solution or immersing one’s self in insanity or an endless litany of complaining and/or feelings of victimhood.
The President-elect is not the problem.
The Bottom Line
The President-elect is the net effect of the thoughts, words and actions of all of us, both present and in our past. It’s not only what we do but what we promote or condone in others – the end result being the net effect of what we do and what we allow over time.
If don’t like how he was created or what he is, we need to look less at him and more into the forces that have created him and propelled him into the position that he is in.
Such an analysis, while complex, difficult, painful and potentially embarrassing, will produce far more results than chanting slogans of hurt feelings in the streets of America or constantly sharing in social media how “I can’t stop crying” or “I’m leaving America”.
When we become cognizant of our thoughts, words and deeds, it occurs to us that the enemy may not be the person or process we don’t like.
It may be ourselves.
And for this reason, perhaps when we seek a better world without, that we begin by creating a better world within and in doing so, we enable our actions, not our desires, dreams or hypocritical standards, to create the world we believe we are capable of producing and that we claim to be entitled to.
We will always create the world we deserve, in business, in politics and in Life.
But a better world starts with what we believe we or the people around us deserve and then we take actions to create that which others deserve.
What do you and the people around you deserve?
Are you / they experiencing what you believe you / they deserve?
Is there a gap and if so, what are you doing about it?
If there is no gap, how do you know?
Be the change you wish to see while there is still time to create it
In service and servanthood,