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My first reaction on hearing of Donald Trump's probably victory was an emotional jolt, accompanied by the physical sensation of nausea. This is despite the fact that I was partly prepared. I was at a meeting in a tiny town in rural New South Wales, with a number of other people from various walks of life.
Internet reception was patchy (very poor Optus coverage) and I had to take the laptop outside to learn what was happening. When I came back to the meeting and told everyone that Trump was the likely next US President, people were shocked and dismayed. There were comments about Nazi Germany, melting away of life savings, and concerns about how the Putin-Trump relationship would adversely affect global stability, particularly in regard to China. (Australia's security and place in the world is now under threat, and we will need to adapt and find new allies.)
Looking over Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet, I see people looking to blame the Democrats for nominating Hillary Clinton. That's not fair in my view. She would have been the most qualified, capable President in decades - and maybe forever.
What's happened in America is no different to what's been happening around the world. The population is getting dumbed down - or more accurately, people are dumbing themselves down, voluntarily. In Australia, people elected the right wing populist Tony Abbott, wanting - hoping - to believe his lies and succumbing to to the unreasoned fear he incited. In Britain the people voted to shut the doors and kick out everyone who wasn't umpteenth generation English. And now the US people want to build a wall between the US and Mexico, close the borders, stop trading internationally, let people die in the streets without health care, and expel everyone who isn't an umpteenth generation American.
With more than seven billion people now on our planet - trying to shut out the world is not only unrealistic, it's a recipe for disaster on a massive scale. (It's as if we cannot cope with the massive rise in population, and the global freedoms we've achieved with fast travel and rapid transport and open borders, and don't "believe" any of that has happened.)
Why? Is it envy? Is it misplaced greed? Is it fear and hatred of all that is different? Is it an inability to adapt to the world we've created? There've not been any major wars or threats in recent decades, so is it that people are bored and looking for change in their otherwise small and dreary lives?
There is a large segment of the population who have unmet (and unrealistic) expectations. People who've never felt real fear and miss it, so they grab hold of imaginary fears and take them on as their own. Despite the general standard of living rising all over the world, a lot of people may have had the expectation that they would get rich or wealthier than they have. Many people are no better off than they were some decades ago - or don't recognise that they are. A plasma or LCD television isn't enough. Fox tells them they have been deprived and the plebs lap it up.
Victoria tweeted a quote from Carl Sagan's 1995 book: "The Demon-Haunted World" in which he foresaw the catastrophe we are now on the brink of.
"I have a foreboding of an America..— Victoria (@victoriavarone) November 9, 2016
..we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition & darkness."
- Carl Sagan#ElectionNight pic.twitter.com/VakVilGK91
When much of the media doesn't do it's job, and uncritically put forth disinformation, and sufficient people don't rebel against this affront to their intelligence - this is what happens. Instead of leaders we elect populist conmen like Donald Trump and Tony Abbott (most are men, but there are some women as well).
All I can say is that it's important to get past the despair that is natural when you see the future crumbling. It's important to rise above it and keep fighting for justice and to protect the future - for coming generations and for all life species. We are facing dark days ahead and probably dark years. There may be widespread civil unrest and possibly major wars. Women and minority groups will have their rights removed. Asylum seekers from war torn countries will have nowhere to go. There will almost certainly be economic upheaval. There will most certainly be more weather and ecological disasters. At the very least we need to document what we, as humans, are doing. And by that I mean what all of us are doing, including the people who voted for chaos and upheaval and regression.
It's obvious that as a species we are not capable of learning from mistakes of the past. That doesn't mean that none of us can learn from our species' mistakes. And it doesn't mean that future generations won't learn from the mistakes made in the twentieth and twenty first century.
So keep your chin up. Don't just ride it out, but keep working for what's right and good. Despite what Americans have just done, there is a lot of good in the world.
Sorry for what reads like a sermon. I feel a tiny bit better for having got that off my chest. I'd love to see your thoughts on what has just happened, and what you plan to do about it.