Immediately after Trump had won the electoral college, I posted the following message on Facebook in a fit of bravery and clarity.
Soon after, I descended into a deep depression before starting the Americans of Conscience checklist. Looking back, I’m amazed how well this message holds up. I’d love to know your thoughts.
If we were going to dwell on it, we could find a lot of blame to go around regarding how this election favored the least “Republican” candidate in history. If we wanted to, we could focus all of our energy blaming the outcome… on the deliberate mind games playing to the fears of a certain population of Americans, on the rise of “reality” TV, on the 30+ years of erosion of democratic goodwill and collaboration, on our neighbors’ unconscious misogyny, on the late-breaking oh-nevermind email scandal, on the social media echo chamber, and the list goes on and on. But. Finger pointing never solved anything. To be blunt, blame is weak and lazy.
The work starts now. Today. If you care about the well-being of women, gays and lesbians, immigrants (recent and past), people of color, worshipers of a different god or prophet… If you care that some people were *literally* scared to stand in line to vote on Tuesday… If you care about the youngest generation who does not understand why the scary man got elected, we have GOT to be vocal.
Instead of blame, we’re going to be a part of the solution. This means reaching out to the marginalized in the street, in line for coffee, at local events. It means making eye contact with strangers in greeting, rather than suspicion. It means calling out injustice in schools, at work, and in our homes–even when it feels horribly awkward–and speaking truth to power. It means consciously choosing to appeal the better natures of our fearful but otherwise gregarious, generous, and kindhearted countrymen and women–and encourage them to rise up above those unfounded fears. When their candidate fails to deliver in the coming year, we can focus on being helpful rather than right.
Bottom line? We’re Americans. This country is founded on the belief that there’s enough freedom for every single one of us to have a fair share of it. We aren’t blamers, we’re do-ers. In the words of one unnamed Irishman, “You can depend on Americans to do the right thing—once they have exhausted every other possibility.” Right now, we’re going to keep going high until we’ve exhausted this most onerous, four-year “possibility.” That’s because I believe with all my heart that we can—and will—do the right thing eventually.
Today, in the wake of this year’s election firsts—of Black Americans, transgender Americans, Sikh Americans, single mom Americans, out lesbian Americans, Latina Americans, and numerous female Americans—I sincerely think we’re getting there.
I knew we would.