This morning I awoke early, as I always do, but in a strange bed in a strange city (I’m up in New York for a business trip) and in a seemingly strange world.
My smartphone gave me some shocking news: Donald Trump is going to be the next U.S. president.
The bombastic New York mogul businessman who during the campaign refused to release his taxes, who made fun of handicapped people, who insulted women and Mexicans and anyone who challenged him, who praised Putin as a good leader – in a couple months Donald Trump will be our next president.
This man who represents everything I loathe – arrogance, narcissism, intolerance, narrow-mindedness, privilege – this man will be representing the greatest country on the earth.
So maybe we’re not the greatest country on the earth, I thought as I laced on my sneakers and put on my running gear. Maybe the United States of America isn’t the advanced, enlightened place I like to think of it.
In the elevator I spoke to a man who was heading down with his luggage. When I expressed to him my shock at the news, he smiled and gave a shrug:
“Maybe some good will come out of it,” he said.
How could any good possibly come out of this? I thought as I left my hotel. Donald Trump as our president?
Outside, the city was quiet. There weren’t many cars on the road and I could cross streets without waiting for the blinking hand to turn white.
I ran east toward the river, past Park Avenue, past Lexington, past Third Avenue, all the way down to the United Nations building.
Other than a few extra NYPD officers on street corners, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
No one was shouting. There were no fiery balls of fire coming down the sky heralding the end of time.
I ran past people looking at their phones. I ran past people buying coffee and bagels at food stands. I nearly tripped on a homeless man sprawled out asleep on the sidewalk.
Just another day in New York City.
I thought of the people in Alabama and Ohio and Indiana who voted for Trump. The people in my own home state of Pennsylvania.
These are good people, I thought. Good, decent people with jobs and families who are just trying to create a better life for themselves.
Mostly good, decent people who don’t hold hatred or bigotry in their hearts. Many of my own friends who voted for Trump told me they didn’t like him, they didn’t like the things he was saying, but they were tired of the status quo in Washington and didn’t want another establishment person in the White House.
So today will be a tough day. The markets will crash, my retirement funds will take a huge hit, but life will go on.
In four short years, we will have a chance to elect someone else. And I trust our choices will be better then.
In the meantime, I have faith in this country. I have faith in our democratic system and our three branches of government that will keep things balanced, so that we don’t end up a dictator like Putin in office.
I doubt my feelings toward Mr. Trump will change. In the next four years, I will turn off the TV whenever I hear him talking, because I can’t stand hearing his voice or hearing the nonsense coming from his mouth.
But yes – something good will come of all of this. I don’t know what it is yet, but I have faith.
We will, through this process, understand each other better. People on the West Coast will understand better what people in the South care about. People in the Midwest will understand better what people on the East Coast care about.
In the end, we’re all people who want basically the same things. Happiness. Opportunity. Peace.
We just need to listen to each other. Find the good in each other. Because good can only come from good, not from evil.
This I know.