When terror and disbelief tug at me daily, my logical brain tells me neither online arguments with those who disagree with me or pity party echo-chambers with those who do will do serve any purpose other than momentary moral vindication of some sort.
When the groups I have joined to mobilize and unite in action to fight some of the scarier prospects our country faces – divisiveness, racism, hatred – serve as a band-aid to my open, wounded soul, I can still feel the pain seeping through and the band-aid isn’t sticking the way I want it to.
When friends and family and people I love and respect tell me it is time to band together and unite and move on, I just cannot.
My heart won’t let me.
In the year 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but not the election because of Florida, I was 16 and pissed off about it. A staunchly Democratic upbringing and life experiences up to that point helped me see how much I wanted Gore to win. But I moved on. I accepted George W. Bush and life went on — until 2003, when I was 19 and even MORE pissed off and being vocal in my opposition to the war in Iraq. But I felt it was beyond my control and 2004 was only one year away….
And when Bush won again in 2004, I was a world away in Scotland, a newlywed living in Europe, and I grew complicit in that stupid war because I didn’t do anything to stop it.
So when 2008 rolled around and I was a college student in Boulder, I went to work for my party. I went to work for my cause. And saw my candidate get elected.
When President Obama was first announced as the projected winner, I went out Pearl Street and danced and screamed and partied in the streets with my fellow supporters. We were beyond ecstatic. ‘Yes we can!’ we shouted and ‘Yes we did!’ and we hugged strangers and we talked about change and hope and the first black president and how the world was going to change.
In 2012, I had a newborn and an admitted feeling of letdown from many of Obama’s promises. But still, I voted for him and was relieved when he won.
In 2016, a student teacher in Colorado, facing over 100 social studies students each day, I taught about the election with fairness and facts and it seemed most of the students laughed away Donald Trump and we kept reporting on the things he said and did and I approached it with a casual tone to keep myself neutral. The entire time, I never actually believed Trump would win.
But he did. He won. And unlike 2000 and 2004, where I was sad and grieving but accepting…in 2016 I just can’t bring myself to be complicit in bringing this president-elect any legitimacy. I will not legitimize him, not even in the name of unity.
So then, what do I do?
Well, I keep loving. Loving everyone except Trump, that is. And I keep trying to make the world a better place to help counter-act some of the damage Trump is already doing to make the world a worse place.
A place where sexual harassment is okay, objectification of women is okay, mocking differently-abled people is okay, lying nonstop is okay, going back on your word is okay, nepotism is okay, ignoring common sense is okay, racism is okay, bigotry is okay, not being transparent with finances and taxes is okay, not even paying taxes is okay, constantly yelling at people at berating them is okay….
This is the world Donald Trump is creating by becoming the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world.
And I don’t want ANY OF THAT to be okay.
But I also yearn for the divisiveness to stop. I yearn for it to stop but I cannot make myself stay quiet, lay low and just let it all happen.
I am grieving, like all who did not envision a world where Trump would lead us.
And my grief is seeing many stages. I go from anger to sadness to shock and bargaining (maybe something will happen to stop him before the inauguration) all in a day. But I can’t see myself moving to acceptance. And I do not want to. Because to me, that sends the message that it’s okay.
I come from a background where many people are conservative. And that is just fine and wonderful with me. It has never come between me and a person I care about.
I have learned, despite my background in political science and penchant for debate, to USUALLY keep my mouth shut and my hands off the keyboard. Usually.
But it’s getting harder and harder and I just want LOVE to be the thing that wins out.
I want love to prevail, but I do not want to legitimize Trump.
And this sadness, this fear, this desire to take action but fear of further divisiveness keeps me up at night.It really, truly does.
I haven’t found the perfect balance. But I know that I am going to speak up for what I know to be true…..even if it means discord. I just hope that in the end, love really does trump hate, and we don’t become a nation of ‘us’ and ‘them’ anymore than we already are.