Like many Americans, I woke up this morning in a state of confusion, disappointment, and anxiety. This election touched a nerve in all of us—not merely a transition of power, but a fight for the soul, vision, and values of our country. A fight that many believe has been lost. As I struggled to comprehend the news, I went completely dark from the social media/news world for the day to attempt to create some space. Even thus unplugged, the nagging question kept returning to my mind. What now?
Even though I wrote a few weeks ago about the importance that we as Americans have beyond Election Day, in light of what’s happened, I want to try and attempt to answer that question from my own frazzled state of being.
I believe that out of this horrible, horrible situation, we have been presented with an opportunity.
If Donald Trump hadn’t been elected, we would have perhaps believed that under another leader, those who have been marginalized, oppressed, and forgotten would have lived in relative safety. While this may hold some measure of truth, the reality is it will take much more than an election to bring the equality and justice that our brothers and sisters in suffering deserve. But under different circumstances, we may have rested, and gone on with our lives. We may have forgotten.
But now that the rights of immigrants, minorities, the disabled, the LGBTQ community, and others have been threatened, we have a choice. We can choose to retreat out of fear, or we can double down on our commitment to justice. We are not just talking votes here—we are talking a transformation of how we look at community and citizenship. An intentionality to ally ourselves with those who no longer feel safe in our country—and a willingness to put our reputations, livelihoods, and lives on the line.
What does this look like? It looks like reaching out to friends and family who are struggling to comprehend the news. It’s reassuring them that no matter what has happened, you are and will always be with them and for them. It is making the choice to open our lives, homes, and ideologies to those who are different than us.
It is also an understanding that intolerance goes both ways. While hatred, bigotry, misogyny, and racism are universal wrongs, the people who hold these beliefs are flawed, like we all are. They are human and they are probably scared, too. Making an extra effort to connect with the “Silent Majority” and asking them to speak and be understood may be more difficult than anything else, but it’s important. With time and patience, it is my hope that we may be able to transform that misplaced fear and frustration into understanding and acceptance. It’s the only way we can. All of our country cannot make progress if only some of our country does.
While I accept the results of the election and the office of the Presidency, we need to be remembered of our rights. As citizens, we have the right to protest. We have the right to ask questions, to organize, to advocate. We have the right to step from behind our computer screens and onto the streets and into the organizations that are doing the long and hard work of advocacy and support. It is a right that I hope each of us will utilize, even if it feels uncomfortable or taps into our own fears of being persecuted. It is also a right that I hope is exercised with respect and commitment to nonviolence, as leaders like Dr. King and Gandhi have done.
As much as our voices are heard, they need to be matched with action. We cannot move the earth, but we can ask those around us what they need. It’s amazing what a kind word or squeeze of a hand can do in times like this.
In short, to my nation and every person in it—I promise over the next four years and far beyond to be your fiercest ally. I promise to stand for justice and equality with my voice, my actions, my resources, and my life. I promise to believe the best in everyone and to offer the same understanding that I want extended to me. I promise to continue to press on towards the kind of America we all deserve. It may take a while to get there, but it is worthy work.
I hope you’ll join me.