Make no mistake, I harbor the same fear and anger as others among the popular vote majority. But, it's done, and the unavoidable civil war is upon us; it would be in our midst regardless of the result. The issues presented are not new; they've percolated since our origin, fanned over eight years of short sighted gains. The horrors always present, but have a face and a voice, even if not quite fully matured in this newest upset.
The rise of toxic, hate fueled ideology isn't about an individual or two, even a party. We are confronted with a belief system wrapping itself around true followers and those grasping for a solid hold in uncertain circumstances. While anger against the electoral outcome might provide motivation, and it should on some level, we must confront and overcome the hate that is the backbone of the emboldened heinous ideology following the election outcome.
The emotional impulse I know quite well: to hate and rage with equal feverous words and actions, but a hate so strong it is almost a physical entity will ultimately be counterproductive. Now is the time to override exclusive and angry rhetoric and action with the hope of extinguishing the growing flame of hate and divide. Now is the time for protest, but the specific expressions we choose as the majority mass is crucial to achieve genuine and enduring positive outcomes of unity and freedom. Large gestures might be part of the big picture of progress, but thinking of those efforts overwhelm and discourage me at times. And, focusing on or waiting for the proverbial white knight that fixes our intolerant mess usurps the power that we all have on the smallest of scales. Even if it isn't the entire picture of how we proceed from here, the profound action we all are obligated to take is simple: be kind.
To my very core I understand the urge to retreat from the substantial section of this country that, at the very least, passively accepts profusely toxic and disgusting rhetoric. A strong internal voice has moments of shouting that I should encase myself within the walls of like minded peers. I lack a natural gumption to embrace those with a fundamental belief system diametrically opposed to values I hold dear. But, this election taught me to be bold...or at least bolder than I had been. At the risk of intense backlash, I speak out against prejudicial lies and the perpetuation of misinformation. No, there isn't rioting and looting during the protests erupting daily on the street. I speak out when Ms. Trump is called a whore, even if the comment is buried deep within the recesses of an obscure article. I speak my piece respectfully and with integrity, then I walk away. Likely, I will not change an impassioned mind, but there are throngs of faceless bystanders absorbing my commentary, and they are my audience. To my peers I provide encouraging and supportive feedback, but confront the ugliness they are equally capable of within the intense situation we find ourselves. These small acts are part of my commitment and contribution to kindness.
And, to continue in the spirit of kindness, I pledge to engage with the world around me. I plan on battling in our latest civil war with my ballpoint sword, donning my safety pin armor. Strangely some acts, like the small token of a safety pin, are controversial, but as a minority who suddenly fears my neighbors, this visible expression provides comfort. So, I wear it to offer comfort to others. But, I am not naïve in this fight. These trying times will require financial support for those most at risk. My contributions will be a small drip in the tide, but I am part of the current. Furthermore, I urge our community to use their voices and key strikes in a way that offers fulfillment. Sign "useless" online petitions with pride. Even if such petitions do not yield direct fruit, they are documentation of mass will. Vote. Beyond politics and social protest, offer support and assistance to peers, friends and strangers alike. Volunteer. Engage in meaningless small talk with your neighbor in a glacial check-out line: we are in the business of building bridges. Be involved in your community, whatever that may be. Be involved in someone else's community, whatever that may be. Together we will weather the storm thrust upon us, and the light of our progress will shine brighter, be more genuine, and enduring.