These words by Dr. Maya Angelou have been rattling around in my head all week.
This was the conundrum we faced in this election between two woefully imperfect candidates. One has too many detriments to list but include misogyny, racism, and blatant narcissistic attributes. The other whose emails and complicated history and lackluster campaign failed to incite enough excitement within her own party to bring people out to vote against a vile and bigoted man.
She lost, and I am wondering what the rest of us will lose as well.
I have tried to wade carefully through the muck of people’s complicated hearts through conversation and social media.
I have learned, among other things, that I am an elite liberal, a whiny baby, a sore loser, and a libtard
(liberal retard). I have learned this has been God’s will. Trump is some sort of prophet for whom we are to “Praise Jesus!”.
It has been enlightening on many levels.
I have learned that some people did not understand that they cannot cherry pick qualities in their candidates. That people are reacting to the whole package we will be getting rather than the issues they voted for seems genuinely surprising to them.
I have learned that my son sees this future president as scary, but he's got a plan to deal with him. “I guess we will need to babysit this guy, huh?”
I have learned hatred and it’s evil cousins are alive and well. The day after the election a woman was waiting in a gas station for her oil to be changed. A man she knew blasted through the entrance to the counter to exclaim, “We got rid of that bitch!” A few states further south, a white friend’s black daughter returned to her dorm room to find “Make America White Again” signs plastered to her door.
Because my kids are watching and listening intently, I have not been wailing out loud. Instead, I let my tears fall silently in the middle of the night as I let my mind wander a little too far down a dark path. Should we build a bunker? Will there be a nuclear war? Where can I hide the little savings we do have from the stock market? Will Mr. Trump clue me in on all those loopholes he managed? Not likely since I am not in that tax bracket but, wait! If you don’t pay taxes are you in a bracket? As I contemplate my need for a drink of water, I begin to ponder our water. And the air and clean energy. Will Minnesota ever have snow again? I try to recall his environmental policies and my heart sinks. There are none.
But when I wake up I go to my computer because no matter what, my curiosity drives
me. It is the one constant written into the DNA of who I am. On I go to social media and the news. I don’t limit myself. I don’t hide or block or unfriend. I want to know what all the people are thinking. I want to see who people are showing themselves to be..
Nothing surprises me.
We are as big and as messy and as complicated as we have ever been.There is so much gray area in each of us, but many do not see their gray. I keep this in mind as name calling ensues. I stand firm in my desire to ask questions. I redirect, ferret, and open my heart. I tell my story. I reach out. I engage because I want to understand. I say, “ I don’t believe Republicans are racist. I don’t believe you condone hate speech.” I get blasted. I retreat, and begin again. If I am a libtard so be it, but who and what are you? What do you believe in? Why? Tell me.
It is clear the fear we feel for our lives and country is real on each side. A paycheck and health insurance make a single woman desperate and willing to cast her vote for a person she believes she sees fully. Single issue voters will never turn away from their party. The constitution, pro-life, and guns are their passion, their hard line. Curiosity is my fuel. I learn this is not the norm. No one asks me a single question.
One other irrefutable fact is that hate and racism are alive. I see it and I feel it from the swastika graffiti and loosening tongues and hate crimes and marches and the protests born out of fear that some believe is a total overreaction. I don’t agree at all with any act of violence though I can try to understand the emotions that drive it. My guess is people who are confused and disappointed in what they are seeing have never been in an “Other” category. Maybe their way of life or who they are has never been maligned. Sexual assault victims have been living with PTSD for the entirety of the campaign. Other than a select group of white women and men, millions of people fear being rejected and/or bullied by the man who will lead us because of what he has already shown himself to be. I k we have learned from experience that if you have been bullied or assaulted you either retreat and shut down or lash out. Some are lashing out.
Were the outcome to have been what so many had expected, I do not believe I was in for a picnic. There would be calls for impeachment, road blocks to progress at every turn, and the background noise of "kill that bitch" would ring constantly in my ears.But those whose fear has been growing been throughout this campaign would feel, at least marginally, that perhaps our country had chosen to stand up against The Bully.
This was not to be.
On January 21st the first African American president will turn over the reigns to a former reality tv show star and man proudly endorsed by the KKK.
Despite all of this, I want President-Elect Trump to succeed. I have nothing to gain if he doesn’t.
I know one man alone cannot bring our country to ruin. I will never be stupid enough to believe such power is absolute in this great land. And yet I have also been taught to never underestimate the power of one voice. If this is the side I land on, the one most powerful one must be mine.
I will call out bigotry and hate, a hard line none of us can cross. It is the root of all we see unfolding before us. If we can’t agree on that, the problems we face are much bigger than name calling.
Whether Mr. Trump will lead us to unity with grace and compassion remains to be seen. Perhaps the better question is why wait?
Let us lead ourselves..
I will do my part.
I cannot wait to see it.