In the mid 1990s I had the honor of coaching my first Little League baseball team. Many young and inexperienced players made up this team. The team’s record at the end of the season was 0-12, losing every game by a lot. After each loss, I told the kids to keep smiling, shake hands and learn from the defeat.

In essence, I was asking them to be dignified losers.

At the end of the season, the players did not receive a certificate of participation. They certainly did not earn a championship jacket. However, we set a goal to be better the next year and the next.

Fast forward four years. The team’s record was 13-1. After each game I told them to smile, shake hands and learn from their victory. That same previously 0-12 team won the league championship. The players learned how to play the game. The coach learned how to coach. The team goal to win that championship jacket was fulfilled.

I use that example to reflect upon the recent presidential election.

Somehow, many people have lost the ability to lose with dignity. The protests and the cries of “He is not my president” drown out the fact that Donald Trump is, in fact, the president-elect of the United States of America.

Republicans were guilty of the same lack of ability to lose with dignity by continuing to challenge President Obama’s citizenship. Unlike my baseball team, some do not know how to smile, shake hands and learn from defeat.

What can be learned from this election?

• There is a rural population that has been forgotten. These people are hard-working individuals who live in the “country.” They voted. In the rural town of New Sharon, here in Maine, 81 percent of the registered voters cast a ballot as compared to 61 percent in Farmington.

• Fear is a motivating factor for getting votes. Sadly, this was true in this year’s campaign. Unfortunately, instead of rejecting that “fear,” all candidates built on it.

• Words can be hurtful but mean little at the ballot box. Please understand, I am in no way supporting the words used by either candidate about individuals who are disabled, veterans or women. That rhetoric is totally unacceptable and inappropriate. However, as my mother always told me. “Stick and stones will break my bones but bad words will never hurt me.”

• Not everybody can be winner. Today, we seem to lose sight that not everyone can be in first place. Not everyone can wear the championship jacket.

What can be learned from the defeat?

• Smile and shake the winner’s hand. They won today. Tomorrow is another day. Even though there is a loss, act like a winner.

• Turn your negative energy into a positive. Protesting is a constitutional right, but what does it do for the good of society? Instead, volunteer for the United Way, help at a food cupboard, read to children at the local library or work at a homeless shelter.

• Again, learn from the defeat. Not everyone can be a winner.

• Take time to understand rural voters and what is important to them.

• Dig for the truth and do not listen to the 30-second sound bites and the TV “talking heads.” Do your homework.

The Sun Journal’s editorial on Nov. 16 quoted Trump’s pledge to “bind the wounds … for us to come together as one united people.” The editorial said Hillary Clinton made her disappointment clear while also rooting for Trump’s success. Listen and hear those words.

Today, many people are like my first little league team — defeated and down. But there will be a new game on another day, which can be won and you, too, can have your championship jacket.

In the meantime, learn to lose with dignity.

Thomas Saviello is the state senator for Maine District 17. He lives in Wilton.


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