In September 2016, I ate dinner with a colleague, Michael, who is from the US. I distinctly remember a part of the conversation when we strayed into talking about the 2016 Presidential election. Michael told me how he believed Trump would become the next President. Michael went on to say he believed Trump would indeed Make America Great Again, but not in the way Trump thought he would. (You can imagine my skepticism at this point)
Michael explained how he believed the culture Trump would create will bring all the ugly parts of US culture to the surface. Racism, sexism, privilege, guns, economics, and more would all be front and centre. Once those realities are on the surface, it’s then up to the people to decide if and what they would do about it.
Well, Michael, in my opinion, you called it perfectly. All of those ugly things, and more, are clearly at the forefront of people’s minds. Some people continue to deny these truths, but it seems that far more people are talking about them than ever before.
Now, the question becomes, what are the people of the US willing to do about it. It’s going to take confronting some uncomfortable truths if there is any hope of creating a better future.
What the conversation with Michael highlights for me is that there’s no going back. The parameters have changed, including the visibility into some of the ugly parts of humanity. We can deny their existence or blame others for the ugly parts, but that doesn’t mean they’re going away. We can try to ignore the problems and hope our politicians will fix them (how’s that working out so far?)
The fact is, the ugly parts will continue to exist if we try to deny their existence or hope someone else will fix them. In other words, if we ignore our problems, they will come back to bite us.
By now, you might be wondering why a Canadian is voicing an opinion about the US. Simply put, this isn’t just a US problem. We’re all in this together, and it would be naive to think one country’s problems don’t have an impact elsewhere in the world.
All of the human-made constructs such as borders, economies, and trade make it easy to deny the impact. These constructs allow people in other countries, like Canada, to think problems don’t impact them. However, four years since having dinner with Michael and humanity face global problems…