Disheartened, shocked, appalled.
I don’t usually react to world events, but today I’m filled with a profound emptiness. At midnight on Tuesday night, I felt a surreal darkness settling in as Trump was elected president of the United States. My first instinct was to crawl into a hole and never come out.
I feel very vulnerable writing these words. I won’t say anything that hasn’t already been said elsewhere in a more eloquent, coherent, charismatic manner. Yet it was my vulnerability that led me to start a tiny blog, and by pushing through my vulnerability I’ve touched many lives, I’ve come to meet and support and love and be loved by a wonderfully diverse community that spans all genders, ages, races, religions, nations, backgrounds, identities, beliefs.
I often wonder whether I’m doing enough. Or whether I need to do anything at all. Where is the line between selfishness and self-preservation? I am part of a privileged minority with access to education, resources, and support, as well as a member of a disenfranchised population who is continually subject to violence, discrimination, and oppression. Is it my obligation to stand up for those who can’t? As much as I wrestle with this thought, deep down, I believe it is.
“This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.”
Something deep has stirred our core. Friends describe the vote as a hate crime; they liken it to a death, that of our rights, safety, hope. The people around me are scared.
I tell myself not to be paranoid: the progress we have now can’t simply vanish. Yet the unthinkable has happened. What seems impossible today might become reality tomorrow. The most vexing part about World War II is not that it happened, but that it happened a mere 80 years ago, in the age of automobiles and airplanes. Living survivors still walk among us today. Is the panic misplaced, or should I also fear the unpredictability of what’s to come?
Systemic or circumstantial, violence is all around us. It has always been there – and historically speaking, it has greatly declined – yet now it is more visible than ever. War remains a constant in the world, even if we do not always allow it to enter our world.
This was not sudden. Nor a surprise. The potential was there all along. It just boiled over, one degree more, one less, the tank was full and ready to explode. Trump has been leaving a trail of injustice for thirty years, and nothing had been done about it before. Why did we think we could stop him now, after he gained more power and popularity, and worse, legitimacy? Why didn’t we stop him sooner? Like Trump there are thousands of others who take advantage of ordinary citizens every day, and have been doing so for centuries, and will continue doing so in plain sight, with no retribution.
Our mistake is believing this is a one off, a fluke.
This was carefully orchestrated, built up from the pent up riled up feeling of injustice from a majority who feel equality is a zero sum game, who feel they’ve been robbed of power, displaced of opportunity, and enveloped by injustice.
Because they are a majority. We are all a majority who has permitted, by active complicity or silent acquiescence, this brainwashing, misinformation, and corruption to propagate. This is not to assign culpability but rather responsibility. The bigotry does not emanate from one person; he is only their megaphone, echoing their deepest darkest secret in broad daylight, validating their fears and desires, however taboo they may have seemed before they were uttered in public. And by staying “neutral” or choosing between “the lesser of two evils” well-meaning people have cast their vote for the voice of intolerance, volatility, spectacle.
Our quotidian lives will continue – that is how injustice works, slowly seeping into our lives until we notice it has completely taken over. National, local, individual – time marches on. We are in continuous motion; even the space between seconds has become measurable. Most of us will wake up and shower, get dressed, go to work, day in, day out, as the days become weeks and months become years. One by one, some of us will be struck by the injustices enacted by others, the unlucky few suddenly multiplying into an unlucky many.
This isn’t about hate, it’s about misunderstanding. And ignorance. And anger. Now, we are all angry. What we do with it will define generations to come. Destruction, or rebirth.
“What kind of a world are we bringing our son into?”
“He will be born into a world where he sees his parents and people around him fighting against injustice.”
Take some time to heal, grieve, process, feel.
After that, we must act. We must fight to reverse the damage that has been done, the hurt that has been laying dormant all these years, poised to explode at the ripest, most vulnerable moment.
We must not be driven to resignation. Long after that gut-punch feeling fades, we must re-energize and use this as our fuel, our motivation, our inspiration to continue our fight for equality, dignity, respect for all humankind.
“I will not hate. I will not make those who do not think and act like me ‘the others’. I can give love and hope and humor and I can try to understand what made people feel they needed to move in the direction they did. I do believe that people are good and they act from a place of how to make themselves feel happy and secure.”
If you are able, consider the actions you can take, directly or indirectly, to improve someone else’s life. Start with those closest to you. And if you feel completely powerless, take a moment to breathe, take a moment to live.
Those of us who can must keep fighting for those who can’t. And those who can’t must keep surviving to demonstrate how powerful inclusivity, compassion, and kindness can be.
“Okay” is relative. I know I’ll be okay, so I’m here for those who won’t be. My hope is this will galvanize the masses. Everybody can get in touch with their inner advocate. Find a way to create change – even in one person’s heart. One person is all you need.