In Search of a Silver Lining…


When I first started the Inspired Observer blog, my intention was to find the light even amid the darkest moments. Needless to say, after the US election on 8 November, things have felt particularly dark.

For many, the election of Donald Trump seemed as dreadful as it was unlikely, but as was the case with Brexit, those who weren’t in favour of this decision have to find a way to move forward.

It was with this in mind that I set out in search of a silver lining.

The interesting thing about searching for a silver lining is that it can begin with something very small. The first thing that came to mind in my search was a deep sense of relief that this election, irrespective of the outcome, was finally over. As I mentioned in my previous post, ‘Attempting to Shift the Tone of the US Presidential Election,’ I found aspects of this election particularly hard to stomach.

Beyond that, I am grateful for the fact that the result has been respected. Although it was not the outcome that I and many others had hoped for, it would have been far worse if either of the candidates decided to contest it. Even as people went to the polls, it was not entirely clear whether one of the candidates would concede in the event of a defeat. This led to genuine concerns that there may be violent protests following the election, so there are certainly reasons to be grateful that the democratic process has been respected.

But the ultimate silver lining here is the wider impact this election will have. The result did not merely disappoint people across America and the world, it brought many to tears, and the reason it did so is because it went against what a large part of humanity holds dear – things like racial and religious tolerance, international institutions and agreements, free trade and open borders, acceptance of migrants, gender equality and women’s rights, LGBT rights, same-sex marriage, pro-choice legislation, gun control, and measures to control climate change, to name a few.

If Secretary Clinton had won this election, people who support these causes would undoubtedly have remained committed to them, but now that these values are in jeopardy, the underlying commitment to them has been transformed in the most fundamental way. In the past few days I’ve seen how this election has invigorated people and provided them with an even stronger sense of purpose, as well as an urgency – to promote and protect these values in a way that was perhaps not as essential as it was 10 days ago. If this isn’t a silver lining, I don’t know what is.

Searching for a silver lining is not that hard to do. It begins with a conscious choice to shift our attitudes and make space for a different perspective.

While it is natural and understandable to feel disappointment, anger, powerlessness and frustration with the result of this election, dwelling in these feelings for too long is ultimately not going to help move us forward.

If we can begin to acknowledge the silver lining, this election could actually be the thing that propels humanity forward.

Attempting to Shift the Tone of the US Presidential Election


Although I’m not an American and will not be voting on November 8th, the outcome of the upcoming election is very important to me. That being said, I have not been able to bring myself to follow this election very closely.

While it’s not uncommon for presidential candidates to disagree, the level of mud-slinging between this year’s candidates is simply unprecedented. Never in my lifetime have I observed a presidential election with such hateful overtones. After my initial attempt to follow the campaign, I began to feel as though I was observing a trashy reality-TV show in the midst of an attempted ratings boost. This is no presidential campaign; this is a circus – and so it’s a conscious decision on my part to minimise my exposure to it.

The three presidential debates have largely followed suit with the general tone of the campaign. The name-calling reached its peak, personal accusations were thrown around and on a number of occasions the candidates even refused to shake hands. In the midst of this spectacle, there was little substantive debate or meaningful dialogue. The debates were nothing short of uninspiring.

There was, however, one moment that did stand out to me during the second debate. It was the question posed to the candidates by one voter, Karl Becker. Following what had been a particularly nasty exchange, Mr Becker asked the candidates the following question: My question to both of you is, regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”

For the first time since this electoral race began, I felt a heaviness lift off of me. In that very brief moment, Mr Becker was not only attempting to shift the tone of the debate, he was also conveying a sentiment that many observers of this election have been feeling. The level of hate between the candidates and the general tone of this election have gone beyond what is acceptable – people are sick and tired of it. One could sense the frustration in Mr Becker’s voice as he asked the question. And yes, it’s the same question one might pose to two children fighting in a school playground because what we are witnessing is no different.

While it’s unlikely that the candidates and their PR teams will reflect upon or take away anything meaningful from this question, I’m still grateful to Mr Becker for asking it. It so poignantly captures the frustration that so many observers of this election continue to feel.