Writing has always been my catharsis in times of trouble and, since the results of the 2016 presidential election were made official early Wednesday morning, this is one of those times for a lot of people across the country.
This blog is supposed to be about living mindfully, but it is also somewhere for me to share my thoughts on what is going on in the world. Although it may irk some that I am bringing politics into this space, mindfulness is still a key part of what I have been thinking about in regard to the election. The next president-elect is a man who has never been mindful with his words, actions, or the promises he made on the campaign trail. And as a result, far too many wonderful people in the United States are increasingly fearful of what might happen to them over the next four years, of what human rights and protections they could lose. They are afraid for their own futures and those of their loved ones. They are grieving.
TL;DR — I was waiting for words to come to me through the pain and they finally did. So yeah, I’m talking about it.
Wednesday was difficult and devastating. I went through the day in a haze, weighed down by defeat and grief, but I couldn’t help noticing how eerily quiet my college campus was. I had never seen it like that before. I took a necessary social media break (okay, mainly Twitter and Facebook) for the rest of the week to escape what I’m sure has been nonstop arguing about every aspect of Donald Trump’s win and its aftermath. Events like this open your eyes to the toxic nature of being online 24/7. I cried myself dry, burned incense, read books, listened to meditative music, and practiced self-care more than I ever have in my life. I am extremely fortunate that I had the time to do these things without immediately having to fear for my safety.
I thought about electoral systems and the institutions of our country. I thought about the white working class voters who voted for Donald Trump because they finally felt seen and understood. I thought about every discussion we’ve had in my class on the role of communication in the 2016 election. I am still questioning journalism and the media’s part in this. I am constantly thinking about women, people of color, immigrants, people of Muslim and Jewish faiths, the disabled, the LGBTQIA+ community, Native peoples, children, every marginalized group out there. I wondered, over and over again, how this could have happened…I know it shouldn’t have been a shock but it still came crashing down on us. I was upset with myself for not getting out there and protesting in the streets with my progressive sisters and brothers over the last few days, but I was (and still am) going through my own coping process. I was overwhelmed with sadness and heavy emotion then. Now I am angry, especially after hearing of the horrific hate crimes that are taking place. I am determined to fight.
I think it must be the epitome of disillusionment to wake up on November 9 and feel like everything you thought you knew about “democratic” American values is wrong. We grow accustomed to our bubbles and being surrounded by friends who share our political views. Even the polls and projections said that we would elect the first female president. It is so easy to forget about the silent majority until something like this smacks you right in the face and knocks the wind out of you.
I know the results of this election were a loud rejection of the establishment and formal politics, and I get that. I know priorities must radically shift within the Democratic Party. I know the problems that are being repeated in every news story. don’t want to pick apart the “what ifs” or every possible reason Hillary Clinton lost or hurl insults at third-party voters; I’m sure you have seen enough of that in think pieces and Facebook statuses. The main point I want to get across is that I hope no one is telling anyone how to feel about this. If you are in a place of privilege where you are mostly unaffected by a Trump presidency, please do not tell people that it will all be okay (because right now it is not), that they need to accept the results and move on, or even that they should keep an open mind. Please do not say cruel things about protestors who are bravely asserting their vision of an America who opens her arms to all. While you may see the uncertainty of the future as a possibility that things might not actually be that bad, that same uncertainty is exactly why people are afraid. Our next president is a man who is celebrated by the KKK. There have been numerous instances of some of his supporters committing public acts of hate against Muslims, Latinx, immigrants, and other minorities. Parents and teachers have to assure kids that their families will not be forced to leave the country or worse. The dust is not yet settled and people have every right to what they are feeling.
I know people who supported Donald Trump. Although I may not understand them (and I feel that this lack of understanding is a problem that will continue to plague politics and divide both sides until we start paying attention), they have their reasons for voting for him. I am trying really hard not to judge them for that. What really makes my blood race is that his rise to the presidency has resulted in the normalization of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and sexual assault. His campaign and election have normalized white supremacy, hatred, and discrimination, and I do not respect him or what he stands for. Trump is #NotMyPresident and I know I am not alone in saying so. We’re entering uncharted territory and that’s fucking terrifying, but the popular vote affirms that is NOT the America most of us want to live in. So let’s make that known!
Now is the time for compassion, support, and strength in numbers. Now is the time to be an ally.
I am a strong advocate for healing at one’s own pace and I encourage people who still need to process this election to do so, then join the cause when they are ready. It is time to firmly stand in solidarity with those who have been oppressed for so long and elevate them. Demonstrate along with thousands of other people. Participate in constructive conversations and events in your community. Make sure your flame of passion stays burning. Share your voice with the world and do not let it be shut down or silenced by fear. Do not stand for bigotry but radiate positivity, openness, and love to those who need it most. Find the power in your tears of sorrow and pain. Try hard to include everyone in your efforts to uplift the marginalized. Give money or volunteer for organizations and causes that do ground work and need your help. This has all been said before but the future of America depends on it. Instead of apologizing, it is time to listen and take action. Progress must continue.
I do not know when that joyous, accepting tomorrow of our dreams will arrive, but let us always strive for it.
“You will not be called a weakling nor a fraud for feeling the pain of the whole wide world.” – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
Some helpful links:
If You’re Overwhelmed by the Election, Here’s What You Can Do Now (Huffington Post)
18 Compassionate Poems To Help You Weather Uncertain Times (Huffington Post)
Today I Rise, a short film for women (Films For Action)