To be honest I’ve been hesitant until now to write about the election in the U.S. It seems to be a never ending saga full of unexpected twists and turns. There is a mountain being written about it from many perspectives and varying motivations. My motivation and perspective is to connect the experience we are in with emotions from an ontological perspective because this election cycle has been a veritable emotional symphony.
Emotions are co-creative with stories/beliefs and predispose us to specific actions. With that as background, what emotions can we discern underneath all the stories we are hearing and all the ones we personally are making up? I’m not going to analyze specific stories or candidates but rather share the landscape we have been in these past months.
First the groups of emotions I have noticed repeatedly through the electoral season….
- Incredulity, disbelief, astonishment, wonder and amazement. We have seen all of these as we’ve listened to the claims and counterclaims.
- Denial – “no I didn’t” has been an ever present phrase.
- Anger – “belief we have encountered injustice”
- Fear – “awareness that something specific may hurt us”
- Rage – “nothing is worth saving or preserving leaving destruction as the only solution
- Disrespect no doubt – “uncourteous or inconsiderate treatment of another”
- Narcissism – “the state of having fallen in love with one’s own reflection”
- References to and accusations of lust multiple times – “eager, wanton, or unruly”
- There have at least been attempts at being apologetic – “regretfully acknowledging failure”
….and some of the emotions that strikingly have been missing or showing up very little:
- Inspiration – “to fill with grace, excite, inflame, to animate as if breathing life into a cause”
- Admiration – “to wonder at or to consider another wonderful, awe-inspiring, marvelous”
- Enthusiasm – “with the gods, divinely inspired, rapt, in ecstasy”
- Awe – “profoundly reverential”
- Respect – “feeling of esteem excited by actions or attributes of someone or something; courteous or considerate treatment due to personal worth or power”
- Dignity – “worthiness, privilege, honor”
The difference between these lists explains for me why we have had the election we have. Whatever we say is driven by an emotion and a simple way of gauging emotional intelligence is to listen to the words and track back to the emotion that is driving it.
As interesting as this comparison is what is most important will be the emotion each voter is in the moment he/she marks their ballot. It will say a lot about us as a nation if our votes are propelled by rage, anger and disrespect or a driven by inspiration, admiration and dignity on November 8th. It will also determine our future.