I’ve been letting information wash over me this last week. So much noise. So much anger and hope and sadness and fear. I’ve been quiet. And small. I’ve been trying to see patterns. Here’s what I’m learning:
- Half of the population didn’t even vote, the lowest turnout in nearly 2 decades. Apathy, dislike of the major party candidates, voter suppression and intimidation … all of these things contributed to nearly half of our population not voting. I’m astounded by this. I really had no idea that so many people didn’t vote in these elections. We need a national holiday for voting day, we need mail in ballots, we need to inspire people to get civically involved long before election season so they feel invested in the process. Maybe most importantly, we need to ensure the Voting Rights Act is protected. Our president elect was voted in by barely a quarter of Americans eligible to vote. This fact alone makes me so sad.
- I was fully immersed in an echo chamber. I have become elitist in my understanding of what people need. And I live in more of a bubble than I realized. This has taken me a week to be able to say out loud because I pride myself on being self-aware. My liberal standing has given me a moral superiority over others. This is partly due to a lack of physical, diverse community to discuss complex ideas. Rather than patting ourselves on the back for how smart and/or compassionate we are, liking the same thoughts over and over on Facebook, we need to get out into the world. I feel called to activism in a way that I never have before and I want to take some time to figure out how I can be of best use in this new world. I’m also taking a break from social media in order to spend more time writing and talking with real people. I believe there is an important role for social media platforms and I’ll be back, but for right now, I need a breather.
- I thought Hillary Clinton was the answer, to break the glass ceiling and bring a unique, outside perspective to our country. She’s worked as hard as anyone to get where she is, but backwards in heels. As Louis CK said on Conan, she’s a mom who’s worked tirelessly for women and children. I wanted this win. I could not fathom that an unqualified, abusive bully would be elected over such a highly experienced, intelligent and thoughtful candidate. I could not even imagine it was possible. I’m still angry about it. And the energy from the liberals in my world is intense, the women are on fire. I think if Hillary won we would have become complacent. Motivated and inspired, yes. But also complacent to the political goings on. We are now confronted with a very large mountain to climb, a dark mountain full of darkness. This challenge presents us with an opportunity to tear systems down in order to build a new reality together, one that includes a wider base of diverse support. I will figure a way to channel this anger into something much bigger than I would have if Hillary had won. That’s not to say that I believe it can happen … I’m terrified. See next bullet.
- I’ve long believed that our country, and probably our world, is engaged in the death throes of an antiquated hierarchical system of power. It had more fight in it than I thought, which makes it a dangerous time. As more people move away from being controlled by others, the system pulls harder to maintain status quo. Gloria Steinem noted: “We know from family violence — the paradigm of all violence that isn’t in self-defense – that the most dangerous time is the moment just before or just after escape. This is when a person is most likely to be beaten or killed because she or he is escaping control.” This time, then, is make or break, when we are closest to escape with a real chance at freedom. We need to begin envisioning what this new world might like look. We need storytellers and artists to start crafting this vision so we’re fighting for something, not against something. Truly, this will be the only thing to save us.
- Finally, I will be vigilant for normalization of what is happening. This is not normal. This election, this candidate, this impending administration is not normal. This man is taking the highest office, without being a servant leader, without knowledge of how government works, without consideration for how systems work. I recognize this man – I’ve known him as guys that have spoken over me in meetings, sold me cars, intimidated me at bars, told me to smile when I’m walking down the street in my own thoughts. I will give him the same respect I would expect him to give me, and nothing more. I will become an active advocate for those without power, those being intimated and mistreated. I will be paying attention. Just as I have done when I’ve walked into the meeting, the car dealership, the bar, down the street every day of my life, I will be on guard.
I’m starting to read Wael Ghonim’s book, Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power. I am beginning a reeducation of what this all means and how I can be of best use in the coming years. I knew there was revolution upon us, I was just thinking too small.
A sampling of the pieces which have impacted and influenced my thinking over the last week.
Systems (because only big picture gives me peace): http://charleseisenstein.net/hategriefandanewstory/
A few action items to support right now, from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.
If you don’t believe manmade global warming is a silly issue, give to the Natural Resources Defense Council (nrdc.org).
If you don’t think refugees are a terrorist army in disguise, donate to the International Refugee Assistance Project (refugeerights.org).
You may also want to donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (naacpldf.org), the Trevor Project for LGBT youth (thetrevorproject.org), or the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (maldef.org).
And to support journalism, subscribe to a newspaper and donate to ProPublica (propublica.org).