I’m not going to lie, I’m hurting right now. It’s not that I’m a sore loser. Republicans and Conservative governments have been a way of life in my lifetime. I have been the liberal “hippy” in my family since I was in the third grade and asked my family why “gay” was a bad word. I was never satisfied with their answer, which they pushed off as a little girl who just didn’t understand. I did. And it bothered me that anyone else could care.
I fought with my Grandpy about animal rights. I would huff and puff and pull plastic out of the garbage and put it into the recycling. I hadn’t cleaned my room in 16 years, but I was damn sure to recycle. I have always been the sensitive kid. My mother started preaching to me that “life isn’t fair” from a young age, but still, as an adult, I struggle with that. Why can’t it be? Why can’t we help our fellow humans instead of tearing each other down? Of course it will never be totally fair, which is what my mom meant. It’s not an Oprah giveaway. “You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!” No, someone’s going to get typhoid fever. It’s the Oregon trail. But if we don’t have basic decency to our fellow humans, what do we have?
Life isn’t fair, but we should fight to make it just.
In two months, the United States will have a new president. He’s a reality TV star, a failed businessman. He has mocked the disabled. Told us to fear our muslim friends. He has bragged about sexually assaulting women. He is against LGBTQ rights. He has risen up as a voice of the “disenfranchised”. And I am terrified.
I am a middle class, white woman living in Canada. And I am afraid. I may have no right to be so frightened, when others are facing much worse than I could imagine, but I am. I seriously asked my family if they thought I should delete my Twitter, wondering if I’m entering into a modern day middle ages where we persecute those who hold opinions who are different from ours. I am frightened by how many people are still full of hatred and anger. And even more frightened by people who said they voted on “policy.” Because Trump couldn’t remember where he stood on anything. Climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China? “I never said that!” Yes, you did, Donald. But it seems only some of us were listening. And if you were listening, and you still voted for him, you said that things like dismantling Obamacare are more important than shutting down hate speech. And I do have a problem with that.
Clinton won the popular vote. We’re supposed to pride ourselves on this. She’s who we chose. But why was it this close? Why wasn’t she the one who won by a landslide? People distrusted her. Because of her husband? Because of some emails (which were cleared by the FBI multiple times)? Because of Benghazi? I’d like to say we’ll see how much blood is on Donald Trump’s hands when this is over, but that makes me weep. I hope none. I want to hope he can be a good president. But the fact that so many people gave into sexism and hatred tells me that we should be ashamed of ourselves. Because it is sexism. When a great many wanted Bernie (who, is awesome), and she won, and she adapted some of his policies into her platform they called her wishy-washy. No. She did what any good political power should do and listened to the people. Isn’t this what we’re fighting for? To be heard? She was our chance! And now that chance has been thrown away. And now we’ll be told what to think and who to fear. And we’ve brought this upon ourselves.
PBS was predicting polls based on uneducated whites. Presumably, those with college educations were with Hillary. What this tells me is that we need education to be more accessible. We need to be making sure that everyone, from every race, gender and socioeconomic background has access to higher education. Why? Because elementary school teaches us to conform. High school teaches us time management. And higher education, finally, teaches us to think. It teaches us to question our sources, question if our options are the best options, or if there’s something we can change to make tomorrow better. It asks us to look for options x, y and z instead of just answering yes or no. And we cannot be a functioning society without that skill.
Today I read to my son. It was all I could do to console myself. Because I am just one person. I can’t change the world by just willing it to happen. All day I asked myself if there was something I could have done? Should I have made my opinions heard more often? Did I miss an opportunity to speak up for someone, or help someone? I feel guilty that I, like so many others, fell into a place of complacency where we felt our work had already been done and trusted that we just had to ride this out. We were wrong. And I felt like I failed. But then I remembered I have this beautiful kid. He’s smart. He has the potential to change the world for everyone. And I remembered that once I held that potential too. So I’m going to use my gifts as I can. And I’m going to encourage him to use his.
So we read. Because through books comes knowledge, empathy, compassion and solidarity. And then we talked.
I told him to try to be friendly to everyone, especially the kids who are different. That we all have things that make us different, and we should never be afraid of those differences. That we should try to see things from other people’s point of view, even when it’s difficult to do so. I told him that it’s his responsibility to be himself, because no one else can be him. I told him that we are always kind. That we stand up to others when they forget how to be kind. I told him that he was safe. His father and I will makes certain that he is safe. Most importantly, I told him that he was loved.
I’m starting this blog on a day on which I am heartbroken. A day when I realized that I hadn’t use my voice to it’s highest potential. But I’m going to utilize it to make my voice heard for the sake of my family. I don’t have the level-headed nature of a policy maker. I don’t have the stomach to be a doctor. But I have the passion and imagination of a story teller, and empathy that follows me around and weighs heavy on my heart on days like this. I’m here to fight. Tomorrow will be a new day.
And as we enter this next chapter, let’s be kind. Let’s bring one another up. And most importantly, let’s fight for what we know in our hearts is right.