On Life

Dear citizens of the United States of America

When you grow up where I did, in New Zealand, and you know that there is only the Pacific Ocean between you and Chile, nine thousand miles away, eventually you are forced to understand yourself in relation to the other.

It is why so many New Zealanders travel. We have to get out there, to see for ourselves what the rest of the world is doing.

dscf0131

The Napier Foreshore: from here only the Pacific until you reach Chile

In June of this year, on the second day of a three-week road trip through the heart of what is now known as the rust belt(!) in the Midwest of the USA , John and I  went for a walk around Powderhorn Lake, in Minneapolis. It was early summer, everything was green including the lake—it looked a poisonous green to me. I asked a gentleman who was fishing at the lake why. He explained it was an algae bloom caused by fertiliser run off—a common problem, apparently.

And then he asked where we were from.

I told him.

His very next words were : Don’t worry, he’ll never be president.

We all know to whom he was referring. What he couldn’t have known because I didn’t tell him, was that I was already worried about this election.

And that worry stayed with me. I wasn’t reassured by my conversations with friends or with travel acquaintances. You see, what I noticed was how much the USA has changed. Back in 2006, when I visited for the first time since living in Minnesota for the 75/76 school year, I was struck by how frightened people were. 9/11 had taken a terrible toll; it continues to take a terrible toll.

dscf5056

Powderhorn Lake, Minneapolis

dscf5054

Can’t decide whether I feel sorry for this mother duck or admire her resilience

During my most recent visit in June this year, I was struck by how angry people were. My friends, the people I love in America, no matter where they are on the political spectrum, were as kind and generous as they have always been, ever since 1975. However, there was a degree of impatience and intolerance on a daily level I found disquieting, that I don’t remember experiencing at all back in ’75, and although present in 06 it was much less marked.

Alarmingly, almost everyone had a utopian view of New Zealand. Let me assure you, we are no utopia. (Neither are we quaint —a word I’ve heard too often about my country and our people; a word that betrays a certain arrogance on the part of a user.)  There is an underbelly to life here. We, too, have unacceptable poverty, racism, violence—especially against women, and intolerance. Does this sound familiar?

Although we are a long way from the rest of the world, in this modern age distance is no protector. Indeed, our share market began to fall as soon as the trend towards Trump began to emerge yesterday. As I write it is down 6%. There are reports in the media that the Canadian immigration site crashed. Here in New Zealand searches on our own immigration site are up 24 fold. Yep, they’ve gone  from an average of 2,300 a day to 56,300 in the last 24 hours.

To those Americans who imagine you can escape the consequences of this election and come hide-out down here in the South Pacific, the world has changed. There will be no escaping the consequences of this election. We all will feel/are feeling the effects.

The difference is, some of us got to vote yesterday and some of us didn’t. And that’s the thing I find the most galling about all of this, the most difficult to stomach. The USA has decided on this next leader of the so-called “free world”, the man who will have his finger on the nuke button come January 2017—something that affects every person on the planet. The rest of us weren’t able to participate in the decision. We don’t have the comfort of knowing we exercised a right to vote, scant though that may be for some; that if we don’t like the way it goes we can vote again in two years for Congress and then in four years for the president.

dscf5650

The Canadian/USA border on State Highway 61. I hope it’s as quiet there today as it was back in June.

It remains to be seen what will happen. But I am alarmed. Experience tells me that the most reliable predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. I doubt Trump will be the exception to the rule. And given that, then we are staring a new world order in the face and it’s not looking pretty.

I wonder how many other non-Americans who live elsewhere in the world are frustrated with this outcome? And I wonder, apart from the ugly new world order that is likely to emerge, is there, could there be a different way of doing things?

Globalisation is not going to go away because a President thinks building walls is a good idea.  The internet is here and we talk to each other. The internet can get around  walls, unless Trump means to control this, too. Oh, wait somebody is already worried about surveillance of the internet and he’s been given asylum in Russia …

Nevertheless, maybe, eventually, a new world order might emerge from all this, one different from that which we fear. Could it be one where cooperation and acceptance of the other is the norm, where we all get to vote for a Global President—or is that too much to hope for, too big a dream, too utopian?  Perhaps it is for now, maybe not forever.

In the meantime, citizens of the United States of America, regardless of how you voted, this election result does not have to be a poisoned chalice. I ask you not to run, but to turn and face the challenge. Please, be the great the rest of us need you to be.

39 replies »

  1. Well, what an interesting discussion you have going on here. And I recognize a blogger’ or two as well. I am happy to find your blog, and you have handled the discussion well. I have been careful not to voice my opinion because I know that people are very emotional and angry about this election and its outcome, and still I have been vilified for merely sharing a link! Some people seem to have flipped into some kind of screaming banchee mode, yet I made no comment at all on the link! Incredible. So I find it refreshing that most folk here has been having a civil intelligent discussion. I have grave fears along the same lines as you, so I cross my fingers it is a historic phase that we all survive. All empires come to an end at some point don’t they? As for the green lake, poisonous green for sure. I was pretty shocked at the algal bloom and that someone was fishing in it!! I do hope he doesn’t eat the fish!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that we’ll see a political mobilization effort like never before – everyone who cares about the environment, social justice, diversity and inclusion feels like their values are being threatened. My vision for 2020: Bernie and Jill Stein as running mate. Or perhaps a millennial rising star?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Many of my friends from home say that I’m lucky to be sailing and should stay away for another four years. On the one hand, I agree with them. On the other, I feel I should be home sharing the challenges head on. But I am hopeful that these challenges can be faced anywhere by listening, engaging, understanding, discussing, and persuading.

    And speaking of challenges, I’m also hopeful that you are safe after tonight’s quake and tsunami. Thinking of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My greatest fear when I saw the election result was a world wide depression on a scale far beyond the last one. We are so interdependent now, we all go together if we go down here in the USA.

    Like

  5. I’m nervous, Jill, but I think a lot of his rhetoric was just that, just talk so that he could tap into the energy of all those angry people. Whether that was just a tactic or if he really meant it, it worked. But the jobs those angry people want are never coming back to America. That would raise prices for stuff so high that we’d have more angry people than ever. Hopefully, someone can point that out to our president-elect before they give him the nuclear codes.

    Like

  6. Given that the majority didn’t vote for him, and the same applies with our UK government, surely it is time that the voting systems around the world are changed so that the people who do vote get the leader the majority WANT! My hope is that the people around this poisonous person will prevent him from doing any serious harm to the country and the world. But I admit to being very nervous…

    Like

    • Hello Jude, It does seem so unjust when the candidate with the majority of the votes still loses. Nevertheless, from the results I saw for the popular vote, the numbers seemed very close, pointing to some deep divisons —It looks to me as if there’s a big divide separating metropolitan and rural US.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A remarkable post. I have seen my country survive the Cold War, Vietnam War, assassinations and terrorist bombings and I have complete faith we will survive a Trump presidency. It’s going to be a fascinating period of time! I wonder how long it will be before I need to get ready to march on Washington to protest our government’s policies.
    Posted from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Like

  8. Very well written – really love people who do think self and don’t let other do the thinking on behalf of different sized groups which they have frightened by propaganda and manipulation – seen many places world around – respect is bi-directional, we have to respect before we will be respected.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As a citizen of the world, I’m heartbroken. I thought we as humans were better than that. But Clinton did win the popular vote so I’m trying to take heart in that. We need to change the voting system. I’m sorry my vote didn’t count for more than it did.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I hope so. I’ve signed a few petitions to try to make that happen. There’s another one going around on Change.org asking the electoral college to vote for Hillary when it officially votes in Dec, since she won the popular vote. So there’s a tiny sliver of hope. In the meantime, I’ll keep fighting for environmental issues because those groups are going to need all the love they can get, now more than ever.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Here is something to think about – Lake Wobegon voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. The only reason Hillary, narrowly, carried the state is because of the turnout in the Twin Cities.

    So why did that happen? I do not have all the answers, but here are a few:

    – Health insurance cost rose 50% last year and another 50% this year – and can reasonably be expected to rise another 50% increase next year. A rural Minnesotan who earns $15/hr, (a good rural wage) pays roughly 30% of their take home pay on health insurance.

    – The roads and bridges in out-state Minnesota need work. Instead of repairing them, the Democrats spent $1 Billion on a football stadium and are holding all construction projects hostage to spending another $1 Billion on a third light rail line for the Twin Cities.

    – The state spends $11,600 per child for K-12 education, $19,800 in the inner-cities, yet every year the schools ask for higher taxes and more fund raisers to provide simple school supplies.

    – Minnesotans are a tolerant people, most of the small towns around here are home to immigrants from exotic places like Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Myranmar and the non-Spanish speaking hills of Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. Many of these people are settled here by Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services without any input or regard to the resources of the local communities. I will give you an example of the consequences: imagine you are a volunteer first responder answering a call to an address, the mother is having convulsions… What language does she speak? What dialect of what language does she speak? How do you get critical medical information out of her children when you have no idea how to communicate with them? Now imagine the impact (financial and social) when the local schools have to provide English as a second language programs to children who two dozen languages and numerous dialects… It is probably not a problem in the Twin Cities where you can bus people around – but that is 100 miles away…. Think about the impact to places like Austin, Owatonna, Faribault or Dodge Center MN.

    – In view of all of the above, the second largest employer in our area is moving to Mexico.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Almost Iowa, Thank-you for taking the time to tell me about this.

      Those health insurance costs are crippling — and something my friends talked to me about when I was with them in June. I can see what a huge burden the cost is. Believe it or not health insurance is still considered an optional extra here in New Zealand.

      Social services, health, education, roading, support to immigrants, place huge pressures on the community, breed frustration especially when jobs start to disappear. From your comments it reads like a perfect storm that has been brewing for a while.

      I know first hand that Minnesotans are indeed a tolerant people —they once put up with me for a whole year 🙂 back when I was young and way more outspoken than I am now. More seriously, this June I noticed a big change in the numbers of new immigrants, especially in the Twin Cities. The election of the first Somali-America Muslim representative to the state legislature in this current environement is a truly impressive thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. In other words, don’t come here – we don’t want you. Nice to know when we’re planning our next vacay. Many years ago my nephew fell in love and tried to immigrate to NZ – was told he had to have 100k in the bank and the promise of a good job offer – now he’s a top chef in SF. The idiots and Haters voted in Trump and we’d be more than happy if they attempt to migrate from LA to NZ in plastic rafts. No-one with half a brain would attempt it. So I wouldn’t be worried. (by the way my SIL is a doctor with DWB working with the Maori – you apparently want/need her) People with money and education will be okay here in the US – it’s those poor suckers who voted against their own best interests and will suffer. By the way, don’t think what happened here can’t happen where you are if you throw out the big old unwelcome sign. Paranoia is a prolific breeder and leads to hate – especially in cut off societies. So I wouldn’t feed it – come to Northern California – different world from the mid-west.

    Like

    • Hello Jan and welcome to my blog,

      Firstly, There are no “other words” in this post, only the words I chose thoughtfully and respectfully. Perhaps you only scanned my post and didn’t read it as carefully as you might have? Nowhere have I said or implied : We don’t want you. I have only alerted you to two facts: first that New Zealand is no utopia, and second, we are in no way protected from the effects of this election. And then I have asked the citizens of America not to run, but to to stand and face the challenge they are confronted with. Because, quite frankly, if as a nation the USA is unable to do that, then the outcome will be horrific for all of us.

      On the matter of immigration, you are correct. New Zealand does have an immigration policy which has set criteria. There is quite a process to go through, and as is the case with securing a Green Card for the USA, it is not easy; not everyone can meet those criteria.

      Some of my friends, people I’ve known for decades, people who have been incredibly kind and generous to me, who have opened their homes and their hearts to me, are Republican supporters. Some of them no doubt voted for Trump. They are not idiots. Neither are they haters. And they most certainly are not suckers.

      They are people who, like me and I assume you, are trying to find their way in the world. They want a better life for themselves, for their children, their children’s children. They see the solutions as lying in a different direction than I do.

      No matter how frustrating the situation may be, how disappointed, and I am disappointed that this man won this election, using these names does nothing for dialogue. It serves only to harden hearts and attitudes. And it fails to meet the challenge, which simpletravelourway, in their comment below, identified so clearly: We all need to Speak Truth to Power.

      Moreover, this is a time to be kind to one another.

      Please check out my comments policy should you wish to reply. You’ll find the link in the sidebar.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. We have been traveling in South America the last 7 months and voted absentee while in Argentina. We never ever thought the election would go this way and are in utter shock. But now, we know we must face the consequence, speaking truth to power.

    Like

    • Hello Joe and Beth, First, and this is way off topic, I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoy following your travels. I have a post coming soon about our visit to Macchu Picchu. We learned from your experience and went in the afternoon—it was fantastic.

      Back to the matter at hand : thank-you for your comment. “Speaking truth to power”, that can be scary and risky, sometimes initimidating and yet I think it is what we all must do, where ever we are in the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Indeed, globalization may be the (perceived) problem. Too many here in the states feel “their” country is slipping away because of “outsiders”…strange for a nation that used to be referred to as the ‘melting pot.’ Yes, more of us voted for her than him, but not enough. And here we are. You’ve no doubt also seen that protests are breaking out around the country, even as he says he will unite the country as never before. But he has said many things, most of which are complete crap. I don’t know what it is about con men, that we fall for them so easily.

    You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,
    Perhaps someday you’ll join us and the world can live as one.

    Like

    • You snapped me Curt, I’m a Beatles fan from waaaay back and no doubt listening to their music so many years ago has influenced how I see the world; as much as living down here does. I did see the news about the protests, and I hadn’t expected that although I reckon it’s understandable. The right to peaceful protest is fundamental to any democracy. So is accepting the results of an election. We don’t have to like it, I frequently don’t, and that includes the elections I can vote in.

      Liked by 1 person

      • He’s such a polarizing figure, I’m afraid things may only get worse. Honestly, I’m embarrassed by it…how ANYONE could think DJT is REMOTELY qualified to be President is beyond me, and yet 50 million cast their lot with him. Unfathomable.

        Like

        • And today we’ve lost the remarkable Leonard Cohen, someone who knew the true depths of despair and yet held to hope. We have this from him: Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there’s a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.

          Liked by 1 person

  14. We all wondered about 1980 too, Jill – we survived. Many were alarmed in 1976, and even even 2000 – again we survived. Fill the glass and hope 😉 BTW, if I didn’t live in Oz, I’d choose NZ too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fill the glass and hope: I promised myself a stiff whiskey by 5pm last night, if I wasn’t feeling better about the Trump victory. I wrote this and kept the whiskey for another day. I hold to hope, it is the only way.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Let’s hope this leads to better ways of doing things. But I am not optimistic. I am not sure how much we have matured as human beings in the last 70 years or so. Trump’s tactics/policies have been tried before (thinking 1933 Germany); they didn’t work before, and I don’t know they will work now. Fingers crossed I am horribly wrong. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Gallivanta, I hope that if people of good intent, no matter what their political perspective, put their minds to the matter, we’ll be able to find a way forward for the world as a whole. We all talk more through the internet, some of us travel more—there’s a chance that difference will be tolerated more readily. But sadly, there’s a risk highlighted yesterday by David Remmick from the New Yorker that people of like minds do/will huddle in silos and not expose themselves to difference or to information that challenges their thinking. That way lies the greatest risk, that’s how dehumanising the other who is different begins.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. A good response Jill. I really didn’t think about HOW the vote was counted until it was explained to me this afternoon, now I feel a little more reassured that the number of folks that voted for him wasn’t actually the majority (although that just seems a totally weird democratic system to me). However, it doesn’t change that fact that he has been chosen, and yes, that is a worrisome.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Claudette, It’s a complcated system for sure, designed with checks and balances in mind and to ensure people have their say. It didn’t work well for Hillary Clinton this time around, that’s for sure. Nevertheless, the election has shown up just how deep the divisions are in the United States currently.

      Liked by 2 people

Nau mai, Haere mai. Come on in and join the korero (conversation)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s