From November 13th, my political response:
I want to understand. I want to believe, to rationalize that this horrible presidential win isn’t out of hatred, though that is exactly what it symbolizes to over half of this country. I want to have empathy in my heart, to think those who voted for this man did so because they believed it was the right thing to do, because they are sick of corrupt politicians and our terrible financial state, and they want change. They want better. I can see where they’re coming from; the middle class, even more so rural America, has been ignored for a long while now.
I have seen that firsthand, but I still can’t say that I believe this choice was for the best. I can’t say that it still wasn’t made out of ignorance or privilege, at least in large part. I’m sorry if that offends some, but I have to acknowledge that it was a privilege to be able to vote without concern for your fundamental rights as a human being, given the platform that our soon to be president has created for himself. Because there are those who can’t say the same.
That is why people are angry, walking the streets in protest. That is why people are heartbroken, crying tears of genuine loss. That is why people are worried about the future, about the next four years. No one is whining or being dramatic. It would do a lot of people good to realize that just because someone feels something more deeply than you does not make their feelings invalid; it simply means you are different, that you come from different experiences. Again, if you can shrug your shoulders, and know that your future wasn’t going to change either way, good for you. Not everyone has that in this country, because this country isn’t as shiny and wonderful for some as it is for others.
Now, I’m not pointing this out to assign blame or spread anymore hate. I’m so done with the verbal attacks on social media. There are people I love, and will continue to love, on both sides. But I can’t ignore the profound sadness around me. It is why I feel it is genuinely important to acknowledge that America is not the same place for all of its inhabitants. And this fact needs to be seen for the universal truth that it is. It needs to be the starting point for growth.
I’ve come to learn personally that your relationship with the place you call home is deeply personal and often complicated. But it is that: a relationship. And as any other relationship, it is specific to those (people or places) it is between. And after this election, there are those willing to give up that relationship, and that is their prerogative. They are entitled to do what is best for them without criticism. But there are also those ready to work through this upsetting and confusing event. I think that just as those in the winning party are ready to move forward, so are those on the losing side. It just looks different because people are in vastly different states of mind. Some are protesting, some are celebrating, but all are looking to the future.
What we all need to realize is that in order to actually get past this, we have to effectively communicate. There has to be more understanding. Just as I said that I get where a lot of Trump voters were coming from, those very same people on the winning side have to be willing to understand why others are upset, and it does stem from the idea of privilege that I’m not sure everyone is aware of. Our future president spoke against many minority groups on his trail to the White House, and they have every right to be concerned about the continuation of words or actions against them. They need support rather than opposition. However, like I said, there is humanity on both sides; making the generalization that everyone who voted for Trump is racist or misogynist is fighting hate with hate, which is useless. We can’t continue these echo chambers of divisive political rhetoric that went on throughout the whole campaign period. I think that all we can do now is hope, and act, for the best. Together.
We have to stand up for what we believe in, but we also have to spread empathy instead of believing that we’re all against each other. As President Obama said, we are all on the same team; “We all want what’s best for this country.. We all go forward, with the presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens. Because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functional democracy.”
I want to continue this presumption of good faith because without it, things look bleak. And not just from things our future president may or may not do, but more from what we will do to each other.
I stand behind my original thoughts; I still want to see people coming together, regardless of party affiliations or views on controversial topics, to have actual conversations instead of comment wars. I still want to hope for the future and celebrate any and all good that occurs in the world right now despite negativity.
However, the idea of privilege that I emphasized in my original post is still very relevant. And yes, I do know that there are rights I’m privileged to have. I know that personally, I haven’t ever truly felt victimized for the color of my skin, or even my gender (aside from cat-calling), and that I have many opportunities in this country (and hopefully will continue to have them). But it is not the same for everyone. I don’t know how to get people to understand this, and I feel like this a frustration shared by many right now. Obama spoke very eloquently to this point, quoting To Kill A Mockingbird, in his farewell speech, about how we need to look at things from other people’s perspectives.
The trouble lies in the fact that things are still so divided that many either didn’t watch or listen, because they “can’t stand him” or if they did, they wrote off some of his good, humanitarian messages because they dislike him or his party. As I stated in my response, this idea of writing off things or people on the basis of generalities is useless. I’m really beginning to hate sentences that have the words “liberals” or “conservatives” in them because they’re all used as dirty words. They’re just that, words – labels for political ideologies. These labels alone don’t make someone stupid or wrong – they mean you have different opinions. That’s the intent, anyway. And some people are doing it right; I’ve seen, and cling to, some really beautiful examples of people from different sides and backgrounds extending understanding to others, of compromising for the good of people instead of the power to be right.
Still, I have to admit that thinking about our political state makes me feel sick to my stomach. It’s not just actions that have been taken in the last week – and that’s a long discussion in itself – it’s still the way many people are treating each other. Logging into social media makes me anxious now, not only because I don’t know what news I’ll see, but more because of who may or not be arguing over their views.
Frankly, I’m on the side that is disgusted with certain actions and sincerely scared for the future. And I applaud those standing up for what they believe in, be it peaceful protests or reaching out to their local representatives. If ever there was a time for everyone to at least look into how to do that, I would say it’s now. I’m not really much of an activist, if I’m being honest, but I’m also at the point where I want to learn as much as I can about how to use the rights I’m privileged to have, and how to defend those that I, or others, may not have.
I guess my hope is basically the same as before; I want to live in a world where people are good to other people. I still strongly hope for people of any background or political party to demonstrate humanity to others, especially those who are different. Sadly, I also have to acknowledge that it doesn’t feel like we’re in any better place than we were a couple months ago, no thanks to our new leader. If anything, it feels worse.
Much like before, I’m still trying to understand. Except this time, I’m not focused on how we got here, only how I can best use my own positive energy going forward. I want to urge anyone who read this far to do the same. Remember to think beyond yourself for the betterment of people in this country as a whole (and a lot of those people some may still think are “whining” are doing just that, not whining).
Sorry for the length, I’m still experimenting with how I want to connect old and new thoughts, but thanks so much for the read!
Image source: Psychology Today