Anarchy, Hope, and Nicole Kidman

It goes without saying that the result of 2016’s election has brought about an almost unprecedented degree of opposition.

From organized marches to Washington politicians boycotting the inauguration, people have voiced a resounding dissatisfaction. Recently, I sat down with my cousin and we discussed this widespread division. Quite the student of history, he recalled how in America there have obviously been candidates who divided the nation. Even a child understands that when two people want the same thing someone will end up disappointed. Yet what stands out about this particular election isn’t the division itself, but the scale it has reached. My cousin arrived at the conclusion that the last time an election split America to this degree didn’t occur in recent memory. In fact, it happened over 150 years ago during an election held in the year 1860.

To avoid sounding like an Armageddon prophet, I’ll clarify that I am not saying we are on the brink of a civil war. However, my cousin’s notion gave me a bit of pause. I set off to do some research and confirmed his claim. While indeed politicians have skipped inauguration events before and scattered acts of dissent historically sprang up, no American election has mobilized the nation quite like this since the Civil War. Mulling over this idea, I started lining it up with what I have seen, heard and experienced over the last few months.

I’d also like to make this point of clarification: I did not have an affinity for any of the candidates as the election concluded, so I understand people’s dissatisfaction and the desire to express that. However, as of late I’ve been forced to ask myself at what point does our freedom border on anarchy? What happens when we allow anger, fear, and uncertainty to dictate our actions? I would say we have arrived at that point, as disagreements have spilled into a lack of respect for property, people, and law and order. I’ve seen this lack of respect unfold in the destruction of upstanding businesses. I’ve watched footage of it causing a man to be pulled from his car and beaten because of his political affiliation. Do we realize we might be heading towards chaos when autistic kids are kidnapped and beaten as a form of “protest”? Even if a demonstration is peaceful, those refusing to respect an elected official must recognize the ripples their actions create. Strangely enough, the ever enchanting Nicole Kidman recently addressed this phenomenon.

Now some may say I have something of a bias towards Nicole Kidman. It just so happens that I indeed decided girls weren’t as icky as I thought after seeing her in Batman Forever, but that’s beside the point. In a recent interview, the actress called for the country to unite behind “whoever is the president,” focusing not on what happened, but what is happening and what’s next. This sparked a backlash, but I think it’s worth noting that her statement didn’t stem from an endorsement of Trump or having voted for him. Instead, she spoke out of a place of respect for the position he held. While not everyone agrees with the President, when we lose sight of respect and stop  acknowledging such a position, society runs the danger of a collapse as structure is swept away.

Then we arrive at the idea of hope.

In all actuality, Nicole Kidman spoke with a wide degree of optimism, something missing in most responses to recent events. Almost everyone will agree that it’s very easy to feel anger or fear, but it’s much harder to hope. Acting based upon our emotions, no matter what that emotion is, serves no greater purpose than personal gratification. I’ve learned that hope isn’t an emotion though: it’s something you choose to do. In choosing to hope, in daring to believe that the world might not be ending, we access a much stronger alternative than our emotions ever could. Instead of lashing out, we discover mutual understanding. As an alternative to strife, we find peace. In opposition to fear, hope abounds.

Ironically, when trying to oppose conflict we often end up inciting more of it. I’ve seen this happen on all sides of the issues, partisanship aside. Uncertainty can rob a person of choice and drive conflicts, but throughout history people have triumphed over this fear. Viktor Frankl, a psychologist and survivor of Auschwitz, once explained how this is possible. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,” he wrote, “The last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” With this in mind, each person has a way to overcome fear, to transcend the instability of the times. They have a way out. A road less traveled.

Excuse the wordplay, but some might call it a trump card.

 

jfash@unews.com

 

1 Comment

  1. Gloria

    January 26, 2017 at 10:59 AM

    Wish everyone could have this reasoning. I agreed to what Nicole Kidman stated. These protesters, and I include the Women’s Marchers in this too, should step back and realize the election is over. Trump won and they need to accept it and show a little respect and not divide our country. United we stand, divided we fall! God Bless the USA!

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