Hopes and high horses.

Someone that I love and respect, but who happens to have very different opinions from me on just about everything, said something recently that struck me. In all of the build up to this election, she reminded me that no matter how we feel about any particular candidate, it isn't right or fair to call anyone supporting that candidate "stupid" or to speak to those individuals with rudeness or contempt. 

Looking back at the many politically charged things that I have posted this election season, I feel pretty confident that my opinions were shared with respect - although I am sure that frustration did color my words at times - I am only human after all. 

Still, I feel that a reminder for kindness is never fruitless and it has made me think a bit about what might motivate people's votes.

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These are the words that I wrote on Wednesday November 9th, as I sat on an airplane heading for Washington D.C. 

It was coincidence that I was flying there on that day; I was on my way to a wedding. Yet, I was grateful that it had worked out that way because after the shock of waking up to the world gone topsy turvy I really needed it. Six quiet hours, thousands of feet in the air, miles above all the bullshit, followed by five days of family-fueled wedding chaos. 

It was a brief, but blissful escape.

I always knew I would have to come back down to reality, though, and address the present situation, but a week-and-a-half later I am still not sure that I have come to terms with what has happened.

For much of this last week, I have been plagued by a real sense of despair. The result of this election is such a great contrast to the atmosphere of the last eight years, which have been all about optimism and progress. For all of my desire to see the hope in any situation, I can't help but imagine the bleakness of the time to come.

At first, I suppose. I was in shock, but that has slowly given way to a gut wrenching disappointment. Yes, I am disappointed in my fellow American citizens - in their ability to put forth such an unqualified candidate in the first place and then to choose him to represent our country and the entirety of its people. 

I am also anxious. I worry about the future. I worry about our society moving backwards. I worry about the millions that are likely to be affected by the whims of a man who has openly and unashamedly expressed himself in a sexist, xenophobic and bigoted manner throughout the presidential race. 

No matter how unappealing the opposing candidate, I simply cannot reconcile myself with the fact that we have asked this person to be the face of America. We know that our actions define us, so maybe the face of America is actually the heart of America. Maybe the majority of Americans do still have racist, sexist, and bigoted inclinations. I don't want to believe this and, furthermore, the fact that Clinton won the popular vote suggests otherwise, but the numbers are still high. Far too high.

What I think is more likely is that too many don't fully understand or value the impact that this will have on those who are not white, not Christian, not male. They don't understand what it is, as it is, to live in fear of being denigrated, humiliated and persecuted, so discrimination is allowed to continue.

This fear is not irrational; it is being reinforced every day by the actions of police officers and strangers on the street, by words scrawled on students' lockers or on driveways or on walls, by flags flown high, proudly proclaiming "I do not value you.

This is wrong. I think most of us would agree and those who live in this fear desperately want to feel supported. So how horrifying, then, to have a man, who is campaigning to act as the ultimate representative, stand up in front of the entire world and openly proclaim in his words and in his actions that he will not be protecting them or seeking to prevent any further inequality. 

Or worse still, then, to have your friends and neighbors stand up next to him and with their vote say, "That's fine. There are more important things to think about than your sense of dignity, safety or fair representation.

Too many of us do not or are not willing to recognize all that our actions communicate, and so injustice is allowed to prevail.

I also wonder how to overcome the fact that so many individuals feel, in this era of renewed civil rights campaigning, that their needs are being overlooked. 

Honestly, part of me wants to tell them to "grow up" because the reality is that their needs aren't being overlooked, they are just no longer the predominant focus over the needs of others, which have been ignored for millennia. The other part of me though, wants these fellow human beings to feel that they are still cared about and to understand that just because people are asking for fair treatment, doesn't mean that they are asking for others to be treated unfairly. I want them on side. 

Furthermore, there are the marginalized groups of people who live, also ignored and unrepresented, in desperate poverty in the depths of our country, who hear words like "gun control" and fear for their own lives and the lives of their families because hunting is not just recreation, but a part of their daily survival. What about them? How do we reach them? How do we show them that blame and hatred is not the way forward?

I don't know how we find one voice for everyone. I don't know if it's even possible, but I do know that this man, to whom we have given the ultimate power is not that voice. Realistically he is unlikely to be a voice even for those who voted for him. Even for the most racist, most misogynistic, most intolerant. He does not care about you. Not really. He cares about himself and his power and his money, and I fear that he will disappoint us all.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 

Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.”

    -Mahatma Gandhi

Is this really our destiny?



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