In the wake of the election of Donald Trump as our nation's next president, I have been inundated with questions from my reader and fan base, which is probably about 85% Hispanic women.
They have asked me, some point blank, to be our voice now. To lead, as best I can, through words, as we all try to grope our way through this dismal new terrain of their hatred and scapegoating of us - Latinos, immigrants, African Americans, women, muslims, Jews, homosexuals, transgendered, progressives. All of us. Everyone I love, they hate. Everyone who loves me, they hate.
I am what we call a "reluctant hero" in narrative writing. I don't want this job. I want to be a free human being, going about the business of my life, writing stories that are uplifting and fun. But these times call for all of us to do what we can to defeat hate, to protect ourselves and those we love. And so, here I am. Called to action. Terrifying. Bravery is not the absence of fear. Of fear, I have, now, plenty. Bravery is, rather, typing this piece, for this blog, anyway, knowing they might come after me in every way they have - and knowing that if they do, I am not alone. I am millions. Millions. They can silence one of us, two of us, a hundred of us, thousands...but they will never silence us all.
What do we do? How do we survive the rising tide of hatred against all of us? How do we navigate the ignorance, the violence, the cruelty and insanity? We resist. And how do we do that? Here's how.
We will need endurance. We will need long attention spans. We will need to remain engaged without giving way to exhausting anger and despair. The temptation will come, with this treading of their cold and hateful water, to stop. To sink.
My advice? Start, today, to spend 20 minutes a day, at least, in meditation.
And take walks, without your phone if you can.
Observe the world around you, commune with nature and the grand beauty of all that is not made by human beings. Remind yourself that you are small upon the earth and beneath the sky, and let the enormity of universal vastness comfort you. This too, shall pass. But only if we insist that it pass. That insistence looks, incongruously, like love. Trust me on this.
Rescue a dog or a cat, befriend them and be powered by their innocence and love, be kind to those within your daily life, even those who are cruel - no, especially those who are cruel.
Do not feel guilty for laughing. For loving. For being free. This is what they want - to keep you afraid, to paralyze you. Now, more than ever, I need you to dance, to sing, to love, and to laugh. Now, more than ever, you must find inner strength and balance.
Cultivate love as you'd grow a garden from seed, with patience, with strength of spirit, and most of all, DO NOT STOP.
Do not stop seeing the injustice. Do not stop looking at it. Do not grow tired of it. It feeds upon your apathy.
Do not believe your friends who tell you you are overreacting and everything is going to be okay. They are wrong. History is clear on that.
Do not stop being sick in your heart from their blind and misguided hate. But also, do not let the sick in your heart, a sickness born from their ignorance and lack of decency, derail your soul into their fetid and magnetic territory. Hating them solves nothing. Hating them makes you one of them. Hating them justifies their hatred of you. Do not do them this favor. Love them. I know. It might make you throw up in your mouth just a little. Love them anyway.
Keep moving forward, in spite of them, around them, next to them but never - NEVER - under them.
Fortify yourself. Love yourself and others. This is not a movie. This is not a YouTube video. This is not a reality show. There will not be a fast or easy solution.
This will take work.
You will feel tired. You will be tempted to stop caring.
Love and justice require constant vigilance to keep the forces of hate at bay.
We have grown complacent and spoiled here in the United States, riding the road paved by the blood of our ancestors. Potholes, now. And up to us to repave. Tempting to just drive through them.
Millions around the world and across time and throughout history know, and have learned, how to do this. You are not reinventing the wheel. You are not alone. Read their words. Accept their wisdom. Follow their example.
Come together with others. And work.
The work must be done.
And to do the work, I need you rested, peaceful within the bounds of this imposed madness, sane, strong, loving but resistant, loved, by me and the rest of us who resist, and resolute.
The oxygen mask has fallen from the ceiling. Breathe. Close your eyes. Breathe again. Brace yourself. Remember how to fly.