As a person who has worked hard all through this campaign, as a person who has a voice in spiritual communities, I want to say something. I want to find the right words to express the depths of sadness in my heart right now, and to add some words of solace or hope to this darkest of days. I don’t know if it will be the right thing, or expressed exactly as I would want, but here it goes.
First, please consider giving each other time. When people tell me to look at the bright side, to just love each other, to hang in through four years, my experience and my emotions are being diminished and belittled. I’m not ready to move on. I feel traumatized and sickened. I don’t know what to do with the people I know, especially the one person I actually love, who voted for Trump. I know even less what to do with the other Americans I know peripherally here in my Mexican community who can actually feel elated, knowing that this man who they voted for is the same man who calls their Mexican friends “rapists and criminals.” I need time to figure out how to be. I don’t think I want to be their friend. I don’t want to “find the good in them.” Where is there good when they express joy at the systematic oppression of basic human rights? How can I just look past the fact that they can look at me and say, “I don’t think you should have control over your own reproductive rights?”
This is an unbelievable shock (to many) and blow to any sense of human decency. While Trump supporters will say that they would have been just as devastated by an HRC win, the truth is that they have very little to lose in an any appreciable immediate way.
While Trump supporters would have seen their “values” being called into question, people on the other side see their actual “value” being called into question – their actual worth as a human being. That’s a pretty difficult thing to accept.
Give people time, let them have their emotions and move through this wake-up call as to just how racist, sexist, homophobic … you know all the words … just how oppressive their country actually is and the awareness that so many of the people around them don’t give a damn about their basic human rights. Let’s see what plays out when people catch their breath and decide just how to channel their anger into action.
For now, please let me, and others around you, have the experience we are having. Grief is not an emotion to just get over. We need time to process and time to figure out how to move in this new reality. I think this is especially important in the spiritual community where there is all too often a pollyanna response to take the high road, as if we all agree on what that is.
Second, as a white, cisgendered, straight, educated, upper middle class woman who has passed her reproductive years, I have less actually personally, immediately at stake than do my queer friends, my black friends, my Mexican friends, my Jewish friends, my poor friends, my young – especially women – friends, my friends with disabilities. Please remember this when you tell me everything is going to be alright.
Remember that this is far less of a surprise to these systemically oppressed and marginalized groups than it is to my white friends. There is nothing new to them in the realization of exactly how deep our country’s hatred for them runs.
If there is one thing that could be a glimmer of light in this, it might be the massive wake-up call for us in the privileged majority (while likely not even a real majority) that we MUST stand up for our fellow human beings. We must speak up and stand up for our POC brothers and sisters and siblings, we must stand up for our friends and family in the LQBTQ community, we must get in there and look at our language, our own deep racism, sexism, ableism and homophobia, and commit to making a radical change within ourselves and then taking that as action, real action, in our communities and in our policies.
We must stop being afraid to stand up for fear of being “uncomfortable” or impolite. We must work, actually work, for radical inclusion. We must stand up for ourselves as women, and stand up for all the women around us. This campaign, and the election’s outcome has brought to light just how sexist and misogynistic our country is. As women, we have (at least) two basic archetypes – the bitch or the wall flower. We have been so completely conditioned to not be the bitch that we allow the objectification and degradation to continue rather than to rock the boat.
Women, be “the bitch,” be “nasty” – if what that really means is: we WILL speak truth to power.
Men, stand up for us. Understand now what it truly is to be a woman in America. We are objectified, assaulted, made to feel less than and unsafe at every turn. These are the women you love. This is our experience. Listen to us. This is the truth. See it now, and be vigilant not just for us, but for you, and for the young men you influence. Again, this is true for all of us vis a vis all of the oppressed and marginalized people in our country. Wake up.
And third. DO something. Vote in every election. Campaign, or phone bank or donate in every major election. We have to WORK to make change. This is true on a very practical level. I think it would be instructive for every person who is mourning to ask themselves what they actually DID – and no, just posting your opinions on Facebook doesn’t count – to help get the infinitely more humane candidate into office. Did you phone bank? Did you organize? Did you donate? Did you pound the pavement to get out the vote? Maybe next time you will. The work is what matters, not the big lofty ideas.
This is also all too true on a spiritual level. For every one of us who talks about love, and ally-ship and advocacy and personal practice and self-study, ask yourself what is that translating to? What action is happening? What change can you see and point to based on those practices? When did you actually call something out? When did you stand up for someone or something, even if it meant making you uncomfortable, or losing “friends?” Or examining, and then actually changing, your language, your thoughts, your actions? Your inner work is meaningless if does not ultimately reflect action,
It’s not enough, in fact it’s quite privileged, to simply be focused on your own “personal growth and transformation” if that doesn’t translate to action.
Finally, and maybe this circles back around, love your friends more. Love your neighbors, your own community and beyond, more. Stick together, lift each other up, encourage each other, have each other’s back. Find more opportunities to be agents of love and decency. Start with the people closest to you, move further and further out to the margins till the margins themselves are blurred, until they are erased.
And then, maybe then, when you have recovered from this horror, “find the good in everyone.” We have to find ways to communicate and to understand why others feel, and vote, the way they do, to ever hope to influence them.
This morning I started by crying. Then I went and taught my Spanish for beginners class and found a loving sympathetic community who is motivated to be closer to their Mexican friends. I got a lot of heart felt hugs. My mood lightened a bit. Now as I finish this post, I have two of my little friends visiting, asking me what will happen to their families in the states. I can tell them I don’t know, but that they can be assured that I am with them, I am with their families and I will always fight for basic human rights for all. And that I did not vote for Trump, and in fact, worked actively to defeat him. They seem satisfied with that answer. For now.