There are a range of tones ringing loudly on my social media feeds today — from anger and rage to empowerment and frenzy. Like many others, my head is still spinning and it seems like each successive moment brings with it a new thought (whether revelatory, disappointing, shocking or comforting). Look, I generally don’t engage in political talk. And I will not pretend to fully understand even some of the complexities behind our Presidential election results. But I’m disillusioned. And devastatingly sad. I feel like there’s been a death — one that I was so very unprepared for.
When I began this post 2 days ago, my rambles came from a different part of my heart and mind. I was consumed by the fact that no, not everyone is inherently good. I was remembering my bartending days of my 20s, when I first glimpsed the evil that sleeps inside of some people — when I learned that alcohol + mobs can provoke anger and hate in ways I hadn’t before witnessed.
Yesterday, the energy required to get up and parent did not come easily. I was riddled with disgust and disbelief. Today though, my energy is (at least in part) fueled by an intense resolve to understand and to listen. I keep hearing the words of real leaders who have fought but also loved, even during times of grave oppression and injustice.
Make no mistake, I won’t acquiesce or surrender to this situation. While I might grow to accept the outcome — and even hold hope for what it could bring — I will never accept the hateful individuals who think that bigotry has won. And I must believe that those who were emboldened by the chauvinism of Trump’s rhetoric, who now feel even more entitled to spread their hate, are outliers and not representative of half of our nation. I’m a mother of two young girls. So it’s quite literally my job to continue to trust in human decency and ensure that their world (and our world at large) is a safe, loving and hopeful one. To borrow the sentiment of Martin Luther King, Jr., “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
And if you did vote for DJT and are sick of being thrown under the same blanket as the racists, misogynists, etc. who are parading (literally) about, spraying their hate and feeling victorious, well, then it’s your turn to be loud. Like really loud. Make it clearer than ever that you find the rhetoric of the Trump campaign (if not its policy) abhorrent. Show us that you’re as good and ethical as you tell yourself you are. Tell Trump to make a statement against these unspeakable actions. Protest in the streets alongside us.
Several of my friends feel defeated, and are so absorbed with anger and a fear of what’s to come that they’ve threatened to move away. I want to ask them “why?”! Why take your ideals away from your nation when it needs them most? And to all those who are filling up my Facebook newsfeed with threats that you will renounce any friend or family member who voted for our (gulp) President-Elect, well, that just doesn’t sit right with me. While the majority of my state voted for HRC, 40-something-% did not. What that means from a personal perspective is that a good chunk of my students over the past 5+ years have viewed the world from a very different lens than I do. But should I kick these students out of my classroom? Tell them they can’t speak? Exclude them from our discourse? Of course not. I tell every student to respect the opinions of their peers (until those opinions become heavily dogmatic or reveal themselves to be founded on hate). I foster an environment of critical thinking and acceptance. So, friends, please don’t disown these “others,” this half of our nation. Please remember that there are subcultures that are near impossible to exit, and mindsets (especially those that stem from fear) that can be near impossible to leave behind. Now, more than ever, practice what you preach. Make sure that your own love really does trump hate by allowing your tolerance and desire to educate be boundless.
Don’t for one minute think that I’m supporting this result (which remains almost inconceivable to me). I believe that half of our country made a mistake — a big one that hopefully won’t cost us our freedom to love however we choose, feel safe in our homes and schools, educate our children and make decisions regarding our own bodies. But just maybe we’ll discover that we (on this “side”) share even one core value with many of those who supported our soon-to-be President. If each one of us requested and listened to an explanation (so long as it is devoid of any form of xenophobism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny) from someone who voted for our President-Elect, then maybe we really could be Stronger Together. Don’t only vent to and rally with the like-minded screen personas on your Twitter and FaceBook feeds. Make room for learning about why so many in our country evidently felt so unheard, unprotected and left behind that they ignored the deplorable behaviors of their candidate on the good faith that he would dismantle a political structure that wasn’t working for them.
Yes, I say all this as a straight, white, educated, married woman who does not really understand what it feels like to be a minority. I’ve been able to spend my life in a bubble in which the most prominent voices were educated ones that preached tolerance, a protection of basic human rights and environmental respect. Indeed, I had no idea how opaque my bubble was. But that’s why I need to make sure that my eyes and ears remain more alert than ever. As for those who want to hoard your compassion, knowledge and ideals, rationing them out to only (your) half of the country, well, that is a disservice perhaps greater than the one we’re currently enduring.
Some of my friends are coping by looking forward 4 years, wanting this term to come and go as quickly and painlessly as possible. Just remember the famous parenting mantra that I hear and share weekly: the days are long but the years go fast. These years will pass. So I’m going to use these long days to do good things, no matter how small. Plant trees with my kids. Talk to them about acceptance. Teach them to love without caveats. Show them why education is so important. Encourage them to listen as much as they talk. I’m going to try my best each day to raise my daughters to be open-hearted, open-minded, critically-thinking and star-reaching humans who know how to practice and spread love and tolerance.
I’ll end with two things I observed today in my quest to see what I’ve been missing. 1. Every day on our way to school we (begrudgingly) pass a home that proudly displays two Trump-Pence lawn placards. Only today did I notice that the yard also boasts two signs promoting solar energy. Perhaps the solar energy advertisements are the result of a contractual obligation, but I’ll at least consider that the homeowner may be a Trump supporter who also cares about our environment (it would be ironic, I know). 2. Right before this home is an apartment complex that regularly presents inspirational quotes on its facade. Today’s read: “When the future is uncertain, the possibilities are endless.”