Moving Past Division

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Like many of you, I have been glued to social media since last night. My feeds are filled with angst, uncertainty, fear, anger, defiance and even a few enthusiastic cheers about America’s new President. It’s a melting pot of reactions and it leaves me feeling fundamentally blah. My perspective is also coloured by the fact that I am a Canadian who runs a business with customers and partners primarily outside of Canada.

Each of our kids (7, 9, 12) woke up this morning and eagerly, albeit nervously, asked who won the election. “Poo!” said our 7 year old. The two others reacted with similar levels of enthusiasm. I give them credit for being so interested in what’s happening on the global stage and that they had an opinion in the first place. Sure, they see Donald Trump through a particular lens (liberal Canadian media), but I’m amazed by some of their broader insights.

After some reflection, my 9 year old said “You know, if Hillary had won, a lot of people would have been upset too.” It was a remarkable display of empathy. It highlighted for me that there are 2 distinct sides to this story and, regardless of who you believe in, we will only really win as a society if we truly empathize with the perspective of the other person. This other perspective may be held by your neighbour, your colleague, your family member, your best friend or even the “stereotypical person who voted for Donald or Hillary.” I love that this is the way a 9 year old thinks. It gives me hope for our future and I suppose that’s what this post is really about.

I don’t care if you voted for Trump.

I don’t care if you voted for Hillary.

I don’t care if you voted for the independent candidate.

You know what? I think highly of each of you.

In my mind, each of you exercised your democratic right and you should be proud you did so. What I really care about is how each of us can come together to make the world a better place. Each of us have the ability – more so than any government leader – to make a true difference in our communities, cities and countries, whether this is in Liberal NYC or in the Conservative Bible belt. And this applies as much to Americans as it does to the rest of us in the world. We have the power, each and every one of us, to make the world a better place.

As we sent the kids off to school this morning, it felt like the world had been knocked off its axis. This concerns me for their sake. However, I also believe in human good and our collective ability to move forward, so I am also filled with optimism and hope. Today more than ever, I plan to celebrate everyone in my life – friends, family, colleagues and particularly those who hold different opinions than me. Each of you play an important role in my life and I am better because of you.

Signing off with hope,

Mark

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