Ahhh the election. It came and passed and here we still are. Maybe. Depending on whom you ask. Not one for political leaders, I tend to turn to the Pope Francis, Malala Yousafzais, Martin Luther Kings, and St. Teresas of this world to give me guidance on how to live.
Therefore, I can understand and respect the rationale behind the different votes cast on November 8th. Many kind hearted people and hard-working Americans turned to Trump in hopes of a better future for their children in small and sometimes poverty stricken towns where they felt abandoned by previous leaders and corporate America. They yearned for days when God was present in every day life and saying "under God" was not considered to be politically incorrect. Finally, they thought about their values on human life from conception to natural death when they circled his name.
On the other hand, many beautifully considerate and compassionate people saw Hillary Clinton as their candidate of choice. Inspired by the thought of a powerful woman being the first female president, they campaigned and rallied around her and her issues on women's rights and someone controlling a woman's decision about her own body, equality for all people regardless of race, religion, gender, and orientation, and the promise of affordable education for all. Most importantly, they viewed her as a leader in continuing the progress we have made rather than someone who would set us back in time.
Then, there were many caring and loving individuals who decided to vote third party as they were not content to settle on two candidates whose views did not reconcile with their own. And lastly, there were many intelligent and good-natured people who had begun to feel disenfranchised with the two-party system and all of the divisiveness it has caused our country and decided to not vote at all.
I get it. I may not agree with you. But I get it all. And I mourn for what you feel you have lost and celebrate for what you feel you have gained. While I believe that the election has brought out hatred and racism in louder forms than already existed, I do not fear Donald Trump. He is just one man with not as much control as maybe he would like :-)
I fear something greater. Something we have been warned about. I fear that we view "doing our part" as writing a rant on Facebook that shows what we believe in. I fear we believe someone else should do the work while we support them from behind a computer screen. I fear complacency.
In the days, months, and years to follow this election, we must ask ourselves some hard hitting questions. I will be honest, when I asked them to myself, I felt uncomfortable. Would we house Syrian refugees who desire to live in a world void of war and violence in return for a disruption of our comfortable lifestyle and the threat of being placed in jail hanging over our heads? Would we throw ourselves over an individual being attacked for being black, Muslim, or gay while we too are pummeled with fists and slurs? Would we devote our time each week to visiting the disproportionate number of African American and Hispanic males placed in jail for petty crimes in order to provide them with a kindness that they probably have never been shown? Would we push back that man who tried to harass that girl even though we are much smaller? Would we sit down on the street and have a meal with one of the 1.56 million homeless people despite being looked at with contempt and disgust in order to restore the dignity in a human life that has been stripped away? Would we send our white children to the largely segregated and under funded schools of urban America in protest for equal education for all? Would we give up our money we saved for a vacation we feel we deserve in order to provide for 60 million children (most of them being girls) who do not have an education in hopes that more female leaders can rise up? Would we volunteer our time teaching Hispanic men and women English, so they can have the knowledge to stand up for themselves? Would we work undercover to illegally transport immigrants into this country to free them from oppression? Would we give up going out to eat and give that money to the 795 million people who are hungry in this world? Would we simply give a hug to the person yelling hate on the streets to show that we won't fight hate with more hate? And when it all gets to be a little too much, would we turn to a God or a higher being and cry out, "Lord, please help me. I cannot do all of this alone."
Or are we content with sitting back and saying, "I told you so. I didn't vote for him. What difference would I make anyway? I expected my candidate to solve all of this," as we return to our Netflix with a glass of wine in our hand and a social media post ready to go.
I sometimes fear that we will choose the latter, but I have faith in America. I always do. The time to start is now.
"It is very sad to pass through life without leaving a mark. But when we opt for ease and convenience, for confusing happiness with consumption, then we end up paying a high price indeed: we lose our freedom." -Pope Francis
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” -St. Teresa of Calcutta
Photo used under Creative Commons from does_not_travel_often