What Oprah Knows For Sure About Life After the Election
Many people don’t know that the part of the show I most looked forward to happened after we finished taping, when I’d spend 30 or 40 minutes chatting with the audience. All kinds of people were in those audiences—mostly women who came with their friends or sisters or mothers or daughters, but also husbands and boyfriends.
They talked. I listened. I talked. They listened. We shared a goal: to hear one another.
Had I still been listening, I would not have been surprised by what happened on November 8.
I would have heard from the supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton—their concerns, fears, challenges, and hopes for the future.
Most important, we would have heard one another.
That’s what happened in a small diner in New York one Sunday several weeks ago, when ten women—all strangers, from diverse backgrounds, with different experiences and beliefs—joined me to talk for a few hours. We all walked in a bit anxious about our conversation. And we all walked out feeling better, whether or not our opinions had changed. Why? Because everyone felt heard.
I’ve been saying this forever (it’s the greatest lesson I learned from more than 37,000 one-on-one interviews), but here it is again: There is a common denominator in the human experience. We all want to be heard. We all want to know that what we’re saying and feeling matters.
Yes, there is now a serious divide in our country. A lot of folks don’t want to value whoever is “other.”
It truly doesn’t have to be that way. Our differences enrich the human mix. And we all should be open to embracing the chance for more interaction, for conversations that both challenge and affirm the way we see each other.
What I know and feel so deeply for sure: We are at an important crossroads in our shared journey in democracy.
Turning on people who are in some way unlike us—who don’t look like us, don’t act like us, didn’t vote like us—is not the path we should be taking.
The reason I sought out the conversation in New York was to ask some fundamental questions of myself. What am I not seeing when I look around? And how can I stay open to seeing differently?
I didn’t come away with life-changing answers. But I know without a doubt that our being together—our being willing to listen—was a darn good start.
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