“The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
Our country over its 240 year history has moved at glacier speeds toward justice, with an irreconcilably slow march toward greatness, mixed with more hate than great. Slowly, steadily, though, greatness has tried to prevail over the centuries, with the freeing of slaves after the civil war, women gaining the right to vote, marriage equality etc…greatness has marched on. But alas, hate reared its ugly head once again on November 8, 2016, with the months leading up to election day full of discriminatory, offensive language and ideals propagated by Republican nominee, now President-elect, Donald Trump.
I personally worried less about the individual Donald Trump and more about the groups of people who were supporting him. Trump allowed an outlet to all of the racist, homophobic, misogynist bigots who had been in hiding for so long. Who were just waiting not to make American Great Again, but to make America white again, and who actually believed vehemently the hate he spouted.
We had a choice between two candidates that day — an experienced, intelligent woman who’s slogan was Love trumps Hate, or an inexperienced, man who’s platform sprouted hate almost daily; the electoral college picked hate, the popular vote picked love. And thus the lives of so many of us who call this country home are full of uncertainty and fear. The day after the election, and the weeks that followed, have been difficult. We have been told to “get over it” and “move on”. For clarity though, yes we were upset that Secretary Clinton lost but that is not why we will not get over it. I and many others, will not get over it because of the hateful platform of our new President-elect, and his suggested appointments, now reflect in this country supposidly founded on greatness.
In the days and weeks that followed I have attended many Town Hall style meetings and rally’s — beautifully run, full of hope and calls to action for the future. But I am a realist, on election night a large part of this country declared its true colors. We must take a long, hard look at what that truly means — where we are going as a country, where we have been, and then ask the difficult question, are we heading back there?
And it is a larger question still for more than just the US. What is happening throughout the world is beyond critical , DEFCON 1 critical. Our world is more divided than ever, with views so polarized it is beginning to look like that of Nazi Germany. Just look at what is happening in Europe with Brexit, similar to what has been occuring after our own Presidential election, hate crimes have been on the rise. Additionally, hate is rearing its ugly head with the upcoming French election, with right leaning ideology becoming the platform of world leaders. Now more than ever we are at a turning point in history.
But there is hope! I am reassured by the fact that the vast majority of young folks who voted, voted for Hillary Clinton. If my kid is any indication — and the kids of all of my friends— our country will be in better hands sooner rather than later! Until then we need to do what we always do, fight for the rights of everyone in this country — and around the world — who are marginalized and discriminated against. We need to continue to embrace the diversity and struggles that make us all individually human, and stand together. Change does not come on its own. Change does not come weeks and months before an election. Change happens slowly with consistency, and thus greatness marches on...
So here are my calls to action:
- Step up, step out and be more than a social media activist; but also be one - vocal and visible. They both have their place.
- Know who your friend and allies are — don’t stereotype — not all white, straight, male, christians are your enemies.
- Call and write to your local officials, but also consider being an elected official — run for office. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
- Ask what you can do to make people not just feel safe, but be safe in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. It is going to be a scary, uncertain, and at times, unsafe world. Wear your safety pin, but don’t just wear a safety pin. Consider some of these other tips to disrupt racism.
- Try to understand what others are going through, it is real for a lot of us and we are truly terrified. You should probably be as well.
- Stand up and fight against all hate propaganda. This is not a joke, this is nothing to “get over”, this is real and this is happening!
- And finally, listen to Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise — it will inspire you and give you hope to fight on!
American has yet to reach its great potential and therefore can not be great again, but we can continue on our path to greatness, but only if we rise up against hate, together.