Roll up your Sleeves

In Your Everyday Vote by Sheila EllisonLeave a Comment

Do not despair. Do not be overwhelmed. Do not throw up our hands when it is time to roll up our sleeves and fight for who we are.            Kamala Harris

It’s the day after the election. The talk is about revolution. “He’s not my president” is written on foreheads, groups march. It appears to be peaceful, American’s doing what we do—expressing ourselves, our beliefs and our despair. Until I see the manikin of trump hanging from a noose. That’s when I’m gripped by fear.  By 6am I’d written an email to my daughters, my mom and my circle of women. I said to them:

I’m pretty sure you didn’t sleep last night either with the feeling in the pit of your stomach that the world as we know it was ending. I was so filled with despair and grief. Finally when a woman had a chance to lead us, a reality star riding a wave of division, took our country by storm.

What I’ve been thinking about this morning.  My heartbreak over not getting what I want, is equal to the glee of those who believe they just elected a man who can drain the swamp of politicians who aren’t doing their jobs.

That was one point I agreed with Trump on, I want that swamp to be drained too–I want policies to pass, I want people to have jobs and health care and affordable education. 

We all know that he is in no way able to be our president, we know that Hilary was completely prepared. As women we can see this as yet another example of how a mediocre man with less ability is chosen over an extraordinary woman with all the skills. So we haven’t come as far as we thought. But to me it also means that as a nation we ignored the deep deep hopelessness felt by millions, because I don’t believe we would have elected Trump without a shitload of people who have been living without jobs, education, homes, health care . . . those who are not as lucky as we have all been to have so much.

 Which means we, and that means all of us, must work harder to be the change we want to see in the world. I’m trying to start being that change this morning by choosing love and peace over the fear that keeps trying to sneak into my heart. By choosing not to judge and blame those who elected Trump, or to go down the path that again separates. It’s tempting to see this debacle as us versus them.

Instead I am trying to believe that every person who cast a vote for Trump is just like me, not better, not worse, not less important or less valued. They voted for change. I choose to believe that Trump and his supporters on some level actually want what all of us want, peace and prosperity. I choose to believe that one man cannot make policy decisions for this country alone. I look at all the trouble Obama had getting anything passed, I’m guessing it will remain the same. Checks and balances.

I’m also choosing to remember and celebrate our democratic process, even though it didn’t go my way, because it is what has made America what she is and WE, all of us by what we value and pursue and support have lead us down this path to where we stand this morning with Trump as president-elect.

The challenge for me is to take the separation we just witnessed and find ways in my own life to bridge the huge divide. Hate, prejudice, power and greed are caused by fear of the other, and wherever I feel fear, I am making an effort to replace it with love. When I want to judge I am choosing forgiveness. That is the one thing that I can do as an individual every day of my life that allows me to be the change I want to see in this world.  I will not choose fear no matter the panic that swirls around me right now.

The only way I am able to breathe this morning is to hope that Trump will surprise us. I know for certain that he’s our wake up call, not just for Washington with its political games, but for all of us.

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