The Handshake that Wasn’t

In less than 60 hours we will know who we, the people, have chosen as the next President of the United States.  There is of course a good possibility that one person will not accept the choice and may even fight the democratic process.  However, this blog is not about that kind of nonsense.   

What’s in a Handshake?

During the last presidential debate, millions of people watched as Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump deliberately did not shake one another’s hand.  That’s right, they purposely did not do the thing we in the civilized world have deemed appropriate upon greeting one another and that we use at the start of sporting events, debates, and other major competitions.  The handshake is thought to have originated as a gesture of peace by demonstrating that the hand holds no weapon.  That seems a nice thing to do before two people start a major debate, especially when one of the two will soon be the most powerful person on Earth.  This one omission speaks volumes of the current political atmosphere and how we treat one another.  When I spoke about how sad I found the missing handshake, someone said “Well, you wouldn’t consider shaking Stalin or Hitler’s hand, would you?”  OMG, did I hear that right?  Have we reached a point in which we actually feel that one of the presidential candidates conjures up Stalin or Hitler: two of the most nefarious men in modern history?  Are we really there?

Not Just a Missing Handshake

It wasn’t just the lack of a handshake that has rocked me this political season.  Also missing in these debates have been any discourse on topics of real world significance. During the debates, we heard virtually nothing on climate change, the dwindling finite resources that support life such as fresh water and food and clean air; conservation of wildlife and wild lands; or the current rate of species’ extinctions which has now reached the speed not witnessed on the planet since the time when the dinosaurs checked out.     

We Did Talk about Women

For the first time in history a woman was in the presidential debates as a candidate.  Rather ironic since it was also the first time that most of the energy was spent discussing women, not as leaders but as objects. Discussions on women missed the mark and frankly divided us at a time the world could use all people, regardless of gender, to help with environmental, economic, public health, and global stability issues.  Instead of using women as victims of sexual assault, or discussing whether women deserve the right to make decisions about how to manage their own bodies, or even discussions on whether women really should make the same amount of money as a man who does the same work (quite the concept!), shouldn’t we in 2016 be beyond all this?    

Politics re-defined

Recently I heard a definition of politics as a means for conflict resolution.  How great!  If only politics today lived to this ideal.  We need to cut through the divisiveness and work toward conflict resolutions.  Unfortunately, this is an uphill battle since conflict resolution and compromise have little room on the political landscape today.   As the country becomes more divided on virtually everything, we become less able to reach across aisles in ways that will help our planet and the 7.6 billion people that call it home. 

Soon we will each have our chance to vote.  Voting gives us a power, small though it may seem, to show our beliefs.  Regardless of who becomes the next President, we all will have an even greater responsibility, and dare I say power, starting on November 9th to work together on the real world issues of today.  #IMWITHHER