Not to be hyperbolic, but I daresay that Tuesday, November 8, 2016, will go down in history. And not in a good way.
The election of (holy smokes—I can hardly even type his name so sickened does it make me) Donald J. Trump to the office of President of the United States has me reeling. And not in a good way.
I spent Wednesday, November 9, curled up in a ball on the sofa watching the news and reading the news and checking social media. I was stunned at what I was seeing. And not in a good way.
Like many supporters of Hillary Clinton, like many Democrats, like many voters who refused to vote for Trump, I have found myself feeling confused, angry, hopeless, and helpless. Definitely not in a good way.
I’m not a political organizer. I don’t work for a worthy NGO or nonprofit dedicated to helping others. I’m not out there giving TED talks designed to lift the spirits of listeners. I’m just a woman.
A woman with a pen.
Or keyboard, as it were.
I’m a writer/editor by trade. I work with words. That’s what I do. It’s what I know. And so, because I’m not out there organizing petition drives or fundraisers or protests or whatever, I will use my words, the mighty pen, in the hopes of feeling a little less helpless.
Part of the reason I feel so helpless is that I see so many people hurting. So many people who feel ignored, forgotten, belittled, maligned, freakified. So many people who feel marginalized. So many people who feel their voices aren’t being heard, their feelings aren’t being respected. So many people who, now more than ever, feel afraid of what the country might do to them—what the government might do to them, what their neighbors might say to them, what their employers might do to them.
I think of LGBTQ couples who might find their marriages suddenly illegitimized.
I think of immigrants who might seen their families torn apart and deported.
I think of African-Americans who might well feel like their lives matter even less today than they did yesterday.
I think of Muslims who might be heckled, taunted, beaten, or threatened.
I think of Hispanics who might feel bullied simply because the people around them assume they came here illegally.
I think of women who might find it more difficult to fight off the nonstop barrage of sexist insults and boorish behavior and who likely will find it more difficult to fight for equal pay.
I think of women and couples who might soon find it difficult if not impossible to get safe, legal abortions without punishment.
Did I miss anyone? Trump has insulted so many people that it’s nearly impossible to keep track. But the fear they feel, the revulsion they feel, the hopelessness and helplessness they feel—it hurts me.
But these people are not the only ones in America who feel hopeless and helpless. For those of us on the left, it can be all too easy to dismiss those to the right of us politically who feel left out and left behind, who feel they haven’t gotten a fair shake, who feel dismissed, who feel looked down upon, who feel overlooked. These people are hurting, too. Their concerns are different, but that doesn’t mean they are felt less deeply or with less conviction. Nor does it mean their concerns are not worthwhile.
On both sides of the political spectrum, people are hurting. People feel helpless and hopeless and scared and angry and frustrated. Some of those people looked to Hillary Clinton as a salve for those feelings. Some looked to Donald Trump. The latter have gotten what they wished for (thanks to the Electoral College, but that’s another post for another day).
I am, to say the least, unhappy with the result of this election. I think Donald Trump is the least qualified individual ever elected to the office of the President. But that doesn’t matter anymore.
What matters now is that we move to be the salve we sought in others. We must work to heal the hurt that so many of our family, friends, and neighbors are feeling, regardless of what side of the political aisle they sit on.
We must stop yelling at each other. Instead we need to listen to one another.
We must stop calling each other names. Instead we need to ask each other what our names are.
We must stop spending so much time coming up with pithy, snarky tweets and posts. Instead, we must engage in thoughtful, considerate dialogue.
We must stop forcing our views on each other. Instead, we need to hear each other when we share our views.
We must stop assuming everyone else is stupider than we are. Instead, we must be willing to see the world as others see it.
We must stop trying to be right all the time. Instead, we must be willing to admit that we could, in fact, be wrong and to accept other points of view.
We must stop trying to bring the other side down. Instead, we must strive to lift everyone up.
Lift everyone up.
In the wake of what at least half the country sees as a devastating outcome to the 2016 presidential election, we must lift each other up. Not just those with whom we agree. Not just those who look like us, who talk like us, who think like us, who pray (or don’t) like us, who love like us. Everyone.
I am not a political organizer.
I do not work for a worthy NGO or nonprofit dedicated to helping others.
I am not out there giving TED talks designed to lift the spirits of listeners.
I’m just a woman.
A woman with a pen.
So, now more than ever, I choose to do what I can to lift people up. I choose to think ahead, to move upward and onward, to embrace everyone in this big, great nation of ours, to open my heart and my mind and my arms to those among us who feel like they have the farthest, highest, toughest climb to get ahead in this world, regardless of where they find themselves on the political spectrum.
I choose to more fully, more actively, and more loudly embrace the words emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty, that beautiful symbol of welcome that to so many people has represented the hope that is America
“… Keep your ancient lands, your storied pomp!
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Now more than ever, I am resolved to lift the lamp.
Will you join me?