My emotions when I woke up Wednesday morning to the news of Mr. Trump’s election, can be accurately described as a maelstrom. Disbelief. Anger. Fear. Worry. Sadness.
And it has not gotten better over the course of the last week. Riots, horrifically cruel facebook posts, school yard bullies, college misogynists, and a host of other incidents and actions have fueled my concern for our country’s social and political well being.
But I can’t live constantly in that kind of negative, scary space. I have to find a way to move forward. A way that doesn’t violate my conscience, and allows me to find peace, however fragile, even in the midst of the storm. I do not delude myself. I cannot control the world I live in, let alone my fellow humans. I can only control me. So what am I going to do?
I’m going to monitor my own heart. It is not profitable to castigate others because they voted for someone else. I have a right to be unhappy that my choice didn’t win, and to mourn the loss. But I will not allow it to make me bitter. I make this choice, not for the sake of those who are currently, joyously and often viciously touting their victory, but for my own sanity. Because negativity is an addictive poison and I will not allow it to take root in my life. I will face my sorrow, deal with it and move on, in my own way, in my own time. This is the right of every person, not just mine.
I’m going to stand for what I know is right. Edmund Burke said that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing. Hiding in the dark is not an option. When I see a fellow human castigated for their race, orientation, gender, identification, economic level or whatever else, I will speak truth to bigotry. I will use my vote, and my voice, to promote equality and destroy the “isms” that plague our nation and the world. But I will do it without violence and I will, as much as I can, refrain from hate, for the simple reason that such things are not effective.
I will accept the results, and pray for the president-elect, without wholesale vilification of those who voted for him. It seems to me that a lot of people on both sides of this election voted in the same way that a cancer patient accepts chemotherapy. They know that they are treating their condition with poison, but they feel they don’t have a better option, and at least the chemo has a chance of killing what is destroying them. So, they swallow the bitter pill, hoping to survive the fight, and come out better on the other end. I have my own ideas on whether such thinking is viable, but each person can only do what they believe to be right. They may be wrong. But that doesn’t make them my enemy.
It seems to me that America is entering a hard season. I love my country, so I hope I am wrong. But current indicators are causing me grave concerns over where our society is heading. However, a couple of things give me a weird kind of hope.
For every person who voted for Mr. Trump as the lesser of two evils, there was another who cast their vote elsewhere. For each voter who swallowed the bitter pill, someone else didn’t cast their vote at all. In the end, seventy five percent of us made a different choice. Perhaps the next four years will move the citizenry to demand better candidates. Perhaps this embers of this campaign season can be used to reignite the fires of social justice. Perhaps the acrimony on social media is a sign that apathy is losing it’s grip on our culture.
It is a slim hope, and frail, but it is the only one I have. The best I can do is work to fulfill it.