Downtown View:Acts of Kindness and Humor

By Karen Cord Taylor

Last week’s election produced fear and despair among most Massachusetts voters, who went for Hillary two to one.

But amidst the misery, some lightheartedness, humanity and kindness showed through.

Alecia told me making marijuana legal in Massachusetts was the best thing that happened on election day. “Anything to alter one’s state of mind for the next four years is an act of kindness in my book,” she said.

A friend whose son is living abroad told the story of his going to lunch in France on the day after the election. He had a grilled cheese and a beer. The waiter asked if he was American. When he acknowledged that he was, the waiter said, “I’m so sorry. Lunch is on me.”

Londoners are also sympathetic. Katharine wore a “I’m with Her” button as she bought an Oyster card. The dark-skinned London Transport man helping her said, “I’m so sorry. I love America. I’m sad for you.”

Rumor has it that the Boston Barber & Tattoo shop on Salem Street in the North End offered free Trump face profiles and “Make America Great” tattoos on the day after the election. This caused a ruckus, and they apparently had to close. It is unclear if they meant this to be funny, but it is. A Trump tattoo?

A Beacon Hill resident named Sharon wrote a piece entitled, “The United States Elects its First Clown as President.” The article begins: “As a continuation of the creepy clown phenomenon that swept the country this past Halloween, American voters last night elected the nation’s first clown to the oval office.  When asked to decide between a woman and a clown, there was no denying the huge turn out of white voters from America’s hinterlands of their choice.”

In the second paragraph, she reported that the British were relieved at the news of Trump’s victory. “Now the U.S. can take over the mantle of being the number one laughing stock in the world. We really took it on the bloody chin these past few months with BREXIT. It’s time England got its mojo back.”

I went to lunch in Harvard Square the day after the election. We ate 50-cent oysters in front of a fire. In the small restaurant were three white people, two black women, two Asian grad students, one Indian grad student and a female professor with a thick accent but uncertain lineage. Everyone was having a fine time. Mercifully, in this state we live harmoniously most of the time with everyone.

Two acts of kindness occurred on election day itself. The first was when Bostonians and those in 10 other communities voted overwhelmingly to impose a tax,—small, but nevertheless—on themselves to help fund affordable housing, open space and historic preservation. The second was when Massachusetts voters approved banning some regrettable farm animal practices. Voters decided that animals raised for food should be treated well even if it costs more.

The hardest thing, said parents, is explaining to children why a man who makes fun of people with a disability and uses bad words the children aren’t allowed to use has become the leader of our land.

One father, however, Kevin Maroni of Boston, wrote a thoughtful, encouraging message to his three children: “We have to have faith in America. This country was founded to be more than any individual person, and to have checks and balances which promote our founding concept —out of many, one.

“This is, for all of us, a shocking outcome. It is a good lesson in making assumptions and taking things for granted, since so much of our information was wrong (and possibly based on wishful thinking). It is a good lesson that you have to see the world as it is, and not as you hope it is.

“Ultimately, each of us now has to take on the only title more important than president: citizen. We have to be kind to those less fortunate, we have to be tolerant of difference, and we have to build the country we love.

“In life, it is normally never as bad as you think it is…..or as good as you think it is. Life ultimately rewards how resilient we are and how well we react, more than planning.

“You children are getting older, and America will be what you make it. Remember that. That each of us can make a difference and everyone should try. So with an election we didn’t support, let’s go forward making sure we try.

“Love you.  God Bless America.”

            Amen.

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