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Here is How We Heal a Nation

November 10, 2016

I am almost overwhelmed by the impact of the presidential election on my friends and colleagues. Many are disheartened if not despondent. Some are angry and others are hostile. There are those who feel retaliatory and those who would like to fight.

I would like to offer some views in terms of how to respond constructively, which in turn can create a sense of agency – the capacity to act meaningfully. I will offer these views using some of the language and phrases I heard repeatedly over the election:

When they go low, we go high: Some are worried about the rhetoric, harsh, abusive and demeaning statements that were divisive. We must continue to use dialogue that is elevated, uplifting, responsible, compassionate and inclusive.

Double down: When faced with a barrage, both sides would redouble their efforts and messages. We must continue to double down and use whatever resources we have available to put out kind, conciliatory and inclusive messages that reflect the kind of society we value. Reasonable views and goals should be propagated through our social media wherever possible. Take responsibility for spreading messages of hope, love, caring and inclusiveness. If we bash our opponent, then we too are acting divisively and we lose the message of our intent with our delivery. Let our delivery be consistent with our message.

Pivot: We too can change the conversation when faced with questioning or ideas to which we take exception. We can change the dialogue to reflect our concerns and interest and speak to a more caring society. Be in charge of the channel and the message you seek to deliver. A question asked isn’t necessarily a question that need be answered. Pivot to the ongoing message of hope, compassion and inclusiveness.

Don’t boo; vote: Every four years presents a new opportunity. There will be another election and a new slate of candidates. The time to prepare is now. Energies put into complaining or fighting may distract from the task of rebuilding. Attention must be paid on giving the we the people a better alternative. An alternative that speaks to the interest of the individual while caring for the group and disenfranchised is required. For better or worse, we do live in a society where individual wants supersede group needs. Knowing this, we can work with this. Rather than treating the situation as either or, we can address it as that and. Individuals need to be heard and groups need to be supported and validated. Our collective creativity must emerge to provide a potent and attractive alternative.

As we put our energies to the future we seek, we heal from the present and feel constructive again. We heal in our actions toward the kind of society we seek. We heal with the shared values that make us great as people, as humans.

The answer is in our productive goal oriented march to the next election.

United and purposeful. Inclusive and compassionate.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

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