If you've been on my list for awhile, you know that I normally send pretty short emails. I write them every week, just for you. Except this week, where I am going to share something I wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
The election is dominating much of my emotion and mental energy right now, and I've tried to sum up my thoughts. It's a bit long, but hopefully you will enjoy.
What to say on a day like today… I have spent hours today crying, comforting others and being comforted myself. I have received so many text messages, phone calls and emails from people checking in on me because they know how invested I was in Hillary Clinton being elected our next president.
Last night, while I was at the Javits Center at what was supposed to be Hillary’s victory party, I kept hope alive as much as I could, as long as I could, until the bitter end. Watching the excitement of the night devolve into an eerily silent convention center filled with thousands of people was a stunning and surreal experience.
When I woke up this morning, exhausted – like everyone else in this country today, I had a few thoughts that I wanted to share with you.
First of all, I do not cede my country – the country of my birth and the country built by generations of my ancestors and many others, both enslaved and free – to hate, bigotry or fear. So I won’t be moving to Canada or anywhere else. I’m staying right here.
Second, this pervasive sense of unease that many of us feel - that we are surrounded by hostile, silent (and not so silent) enemies needs to be channeled into something productive. The divisions of this country that truly threaten to tear us apart from the inside out are what got us to this crisis point. Those same divisions are not going to get us to the promised land. I don’t know what the solutions are, but I do know that rather than throwing our hands up in the air and proclaiming “it’s over, we’re fucked”, we have to channel all of our anger, confusion and pain into action.
I am a black woman who is aware every single day of my life that I am surrounded by people who view me as less than. But I am also privileged in many ways, and it’s easy to get comfortable inside the bubble of privilege. That bubble has burst, like all bubbles eventually do. I feel different today. As my friend Chris texted me today: “We’re activists now. That’s what our lives are about.”
And lastly – I am aware of some of the people I know who voted for Donald Trump. Others of course have kept (and still are keeping) their mouths shut for fear of being ostracized. It’s very easy and very natural to see Trump voters as evil people “out there” somewhere. But they aren’t “out there”, they’re next door. And are they evil?
I personally view Donald Trump as a morally bankrupt, misogynistic, fear-mongering sexual predator and bigot. But I also know that there are people in this world who I respect and maybe even love who voted for him. This is really hard for me to reconcile, and it’s been the source of a lot of tears and cognitive dissonance for me today.
I’m rambling a bit, but the point I want to make is – by hating the people who voted for Trump (or for Hillary, if you’re reading this as a Trump supporter), we are doing the most harm to ourselves. Both as individuals and as a country. We are not anonymous masses – we are neighbors and colleagues and friends and even family. We can’t give up on half of our country, on these people with whom we think we fundamentally disagree.
I FEEL like I have a fundamental disagreement of values with anyone who voted for Trump. But I KNOW that feelings are not facts.
And I know in my heart that on a 1-on-1 human level of connection and communication and empathy and LOVE that mountains of difference can be overcome. I know that mothers have forgiven the murderers of their children. I know that warring soldiers have found friendship after attempting to take each other’s lives. I know that abusers have come to recognize their brutality and fight for victims.
And so I know that there is a way that we can bridge this divide between us. It can’t happen on CNN or Twitter or someone’s Facebook wall. It can’t happen if we view our neighbors as the enemy. It can only happen between individuals who want to find this healing.
We can and will fight for equality while also fighting to retain our humanity and our sanity. We can and will mobilize and organize while also sitting down and employing massive amounts of empathy for those with whom we disagree. I truly do believe that love is a superpower. And it’s time for us to activate it.
Who’s with me?