The Hardest Part About the Last Four Years

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I live in the United States. Four years ago, I lived in Cleveland, Ohio. Now I live in Dallas, Texas. These are both big cities in the overall scheme of things (and especially compared to where I grew up in the Maine woods), although Dallas-Fort Worth is quite a bit larger than Cleveland.

Moving to Texas was a trip. Some of the stereotypes are true; many are not.

And even though I’ve moved, there’s something fundamental that hasn’t changed over these past four years: There’s been a lot going on in my country that makes me really disappointed in people.

I’m So Disappointed in People

No matter what happens politically here in a few weeks, I don’t know that I’ll be able to get over my extreme disappointment with how many people are just downright cruel and thoughtless.

That’s what really gets me at the end of the day. That’s what makes me feel sick to my stomach when I’m trying to go to sleep… how many people just don’t care about others or the damage they do so long as they can feel braggadocious and powerful for a few, fleeting moments.

It’s not the policy stuff (although some of that isn’t the greatest to be honest, especially when some of the policy seems to be steeped in that same cruelty and braggadocio). It’s the lack of dignity. Of empathy.

More Vocal Isn’t the Same Thing as Being Outnumbered

I talked with some of my friends about this feeling (virtually of course). Some shared their desire to move away, possibly to a Scandinavian country that treats its citizens better. And I shared my fear that I don’t believe in American exceptionalism — in either direction. I don’t believe that America is uniquely wonderful OR uniquely terrible.

I worry about authoritarianism and corruption as international phenomena that could happen anywhere.

I worry that nowhere is immune to these problems.

Another friend shared a story about the Nazi party almost wresting majority control of Sweden a few years back when they were there. At the same time, they urged me to focus on how many more of us than there are of them — in spite of the fact that hatemongers are so vocal (and amplified by bots).

I am clinging to that as I move forward, as I try to remember that. Cruel voices may be more vocal, but that isn’t the same thing as being outnumbered.

I try to hold on to that thought as a relative chimes in and tells me that they don’t keep up with what’s going on in the news. That they don’t stay informed, fact check, or question their biases. I hold on to that thought as they offer up their own lack of engagement expecting it will comfort me — and in the process instead only disappoint me further.

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