I’m sitting on the blue line heading into work partly in a daze and partly on the verge of tears. After coming off the high of a Cubs victory in the World Series, I am, like so many others, are reeling from last night’s election results.
I’ll be honest with you. This is only the second election I’ve voted in. The first was when Obama ran for a second term which I wish he could run again but such is the law, I suppose. I was an avid Bernie fan from the moment he came into the picture. As a Senator, I respected his rolled-up sleeves, his Vermont accent and disheveled wispy white hair while his glasses slid down his nose as hands waved and shook and the young voters became excited again. Here was a man who represented both inclusivity and the anti-establishment. When Bernie lost the Democratic nomination, you could see the defeat on the faces of voters, especially the millennial generation.
At the time of the Republican’s party endorsement of Donald Trump as their presidential candidate, I think a majority of us laughed it off. Then, we started texting one another with the question, “Wait, could he actually win this?” We started to wonder if a win was plausible and fear set in.
When last night’s results were announced just around 2AM, I was already in bed but awoke to mass texts from friends saying Trump had clinched the presidency. I laid in bed until 7:08AM. I read NPR, CNN, EVEN FOX just to confirm that what my friends were texting was, in fact, accurate. As I got ready for work, I felt sick. Knots twisted in my stomach. I felt progress pushed back decades. And I was terrified.
At work, I was physically in my office but my head worked out every scenario in my head where strides made on climate action and mental health could potentially be overturned. I needed what some mock as a safe space which, for me, is the yoga studio and my mat. I needed to feel that my fears were, in fact, validated. After class, we hugged one another transferring energy and love to fellow yogis, promoting hope through our teaching which is always difficult when you are not even sure if hope is worth believing in.
But I’m not the only one who’s walking with their head down or afraid of the future. Usually, I am optimistic about change–a little cautious at first but I ultimately adapt. Now, I’m not sure if adaptability is the right response.
What will happen to my mother’s social security and benefits as she gets older? What will happen to this beautiful earth when the people in power see climate change as a myth? What does this new administration for the disenfranchised, the minority, women’s rights? How will relationships with our European counterparts be sustained?
Bottom line is we still have a billionaire in power who ultimately is for himself (but so are most politicians if we’re being totally honest). And I’m not confident he is the one to unite our country at a time when we are so undeniably split.
I am, by no means, an expert on politics, but I am a believer in equality and change for the better, that people are inherently good. I don’t believe in building walls or retreating to my “safe space” for the next four years (though I’ll certainly be frequenting my mat more often). I am a bleeding heart and proud of it. What I’m not proud of is how divided this nation has become which inevitably spills over into other countries across the globe. In case you aren’t aware, America is no longer the singular powerhouse with emerging nations coming up behind us, investing in better technologies, grasping the concept of rising sea levels a little firmer than the rest of us.
When I listened to Trump make quips about how cold it was at one of his rallies and how we are supposed to be in the midst of global warming, I sighed heavily. When Mike Pence was put on his running mate, my uterus wept. And when he was officially announced as the President of the Free World, I was outraged.
It’s November 10th now. This post has been a full day in the making. I keep coming back to it, deleting and rephrasing sentences, assessing new breaking stories and my eyes feel heavy like I’ve been awake for days. Because I have. I think most of have been awake pinching ourselves because this cannot be the reality. “Progress Undone” should now be the slogan for the new President of the United States. But I’ve allowed myself to grieve so I can get back up and fight like hell. Now, we must do work whether we’re ready for it or not.
For those who support Trump, I actually understand why you voted him into office–he is what you would say “the anti-establishment”, everything that Big Government isn’t. But now you must also ask yourselves, At what price does this come at? All politicians make promises. Most of them don’t make good on their word. Hillary probably wouldn’t have been an exception. And while you might be thinking I am against the man himself, I’m more repulsed by the movement he’s sparked within the white working-class, a population I currently fall into.
If you’ve engaged in social media arguments or face-to-face battles with whoever your opposition is, you’ve more than likely read comments so hurtful, so despicable I refuse to re-post. From the slandering of Muslims and yelling for the African American communities to “GO BACK TO AFRICA” all the way to promoting homophobia, sexism while feeling OK about it–it doesn’t bode well for the country when certain folks feel they now have a leader who’ll back them up in their antics. What I am trying to explain is the disappointment isn’t directed necessarily at the man but at the monster he’s unleashed across the country. Granted, we have been dealing with racism before this election. Women’s rights are always under siege. Marriage equality is still a taboo topic for many. We probably still have people that believe the Earth is flat (it isn’t, FYI).
As the outrage subsides, I now ask myself, “What must be done, and how?” There’s a bigger picture, more important reason as to why some of us are fearing the worst and it’s already unfolding. Bigotry and hatred have found their host in nearly half of America’s voters and for that reason alone I am anxious. I am anxious for the outcomes that will occur within a 4-year period. I mourn the loss of empathy our country needed instead of borders and the inability to listen with an open mind, and while I certainly have an advantage over many others just because of the color of my skin, I will still fight for the America I believe in.
The “how” is probably our greatest task as we try and unite during one of the most divided periods, but our strength will come in numbers as we fight hate with love, open our arms instead of closing ourselves off. Volunteer with organizations supporting a greater cause. Wake up with purpose because YOU decide how this country runs. Empower yourself by empowering others. Smile at strangers as they walk by with their heads hung low. And don’t for one minute think your voice doesn’t count or should be silenced. Let yourself feel heavy for a couple of days, like you’re wading through cement, because processing these emotions allows for a proactive rather than reactive mentality.
As we get through the next couple of months with President Obama still at the helm, I hope you take the opportunity to arm yourself with knowledge on what the next administration’s agenda contains and also how we got to this point of voting Big Government out. I hope you will teach your children the mighty power of their voice and that kindness is to be practiced, not simply preached. I hope for a more civilized place where we feel free to express our differences without fearing for our lives. And I hope–for my sake and yours–we can endure as one nation by putting aside the fear-instilled anger resonating with both parties in order to make Mother Earth BREATHE again.