These next few years will be an opportunity for some of us to rise up and become leaders, revolutionaries, and heroes.
I’m an optimist and a dreamer, the kind who puts presents under the tree in Santa’s name for my kids, but still somewhere deep down believes that this magical symbol of goodwill and charity actually exists out there. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that up until the very last minute, I truly believed something would happen to prevent the inauguration last Friday.
It didn’t. And now the hard work of learning to live in this new and inconceivable reality begins.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps it’s better to say that now the hard work of changing this new and inconceivable reality begins.
Politics and Woe
Donald Trump. I am disgusted by him and his words about minorities, his attitude and action towards women, his blatant narcissism. I’m disgusted by him, but I can’t direct my anger toward him. The Donald was pretty straightforward from the beginning, he always acted exactly in line with the the selfish, childish, bullying prima-donna that he is.
And I can’t really direct my anger at the people who voted for him either. First of all, it’s too large and nebulous an object of anger, but more importantly, I truly believe that most of them were misinformed, uneducated, manipulated, or just plain desperate. I bet they never saw the news coverage of Donald that I did. As has become painfully clear in the last year, we have so many “news” outlets now that it is perfectly possible to get whatever news supports your worldview. I’m sure the one or two friends I have who voted for Trump never saw him ridicule a disabled person or berate the family of a vet who died for our country. Or if they did see those clips, it was heavily edited, and wrapped in commentary justifying Trump’s actions and somehow blaming the Evil Liberal Media. I’m sure my news sources at the time were equally biased, and I’m working to fix that. No, I can’t be angry at the people who voted for Trump because I know that when it comes down to it, we have more uniting us than we have dividing us.
The true targets of my anger are the politicians and puppeteers who are allowing this travesty to happen, the people who have the power to course-correct but don’t, the people who are actively driving our country into the muck because they want to win some nebulous competition, or even worse, profit from the fall of others and the decline of our democracy. These people–whether they be politicians, lobbyists, CEOs or media moguls–are not patriots. The true patriots–some of whom also happen to be politicians, lobbyists, CEOs or media moguls–are weeping right now, at this canker on our country’s ideals. The true patriots of either political affiliation are the ones doing whatever they can not only to block what looks to be an increasingly authoritarian and nationalist agenda (there’s a word for that, you know,) but more importantly, shining a light to expose and impotize those traitors who are working against the ideals of our nation’s founding documents.
Ardor and Action
We are living through a dark time. But being the optimist that I am, I also look at it as an opportunity. This is our chance to come together. It is in dark times that heroes are born.
This isn’t to say it will be easy or fun. We all learn about points in history when terrible people came to power and brought tyranny and oppression with them. We learn about these times and think, “I would have fought against this!” But the truth is that when times get tough, it’s hard enough just to get through each day, to keep our families safe, fed, warm, and educated. It seems obvious in hindsight what the “right side” is, but when you’re living it, with dozens of other voices demanding your attention, it’s not so easy. We will have to remind ourselves not to get complacent, not to normalize behaviour we abhor just because we see a “leader” displaying it daily, not to accept an erosion of our civil rights and liberties as the sad new status quo.
These next few years will be an opportunity for some of us to rise up and become leaders, revolutionaries, and heroes. How we will do this, what tactics will be needed, what will be the most effective actions, we have yet to discover or invent. But one thing is for sure, the time for apathy and complacency is past. It is time now to take part in our own governance, to invest ourselves in our communities. I don’t just mean our online communities, where everyone already most likely agrees with us. It’s time to invest ourselves in our geographic communities as well. Learn what unifies us and what divides us, and take those differences not as weaknesses, but as strengths. By understanding and combining our differing views and strengths we become stronger. In the next four years compassion and community are going to become more important than ever.
Participating in the March for Justice on Saturday was a first step on this path. Showing up in person to march with strangers near and far was, for many, truly an act of bravery. I have rarely been so humbled and inspired. The leaders, the organizers, the marchers are modern-day heroes. But this has to be the beginning, not the end. Now we must somehow keep up this level of determination and unity for four hard years. It will be an exhausting task. We will face constant opposition from our own President, his lackeys and puppet masters.
So this is the vow I take today: I will not spend the next four years in mourning or anger, or uselessly shaking my fist at the sky or posting on social media. I will look on this time as an opportunity to discover my own strengths as well as the strengths of others, and an opportunity to discover where we are lacking as well. I will be cognizant of what’s going on in our government and the world. I will be critical of the news I consume. I will be active. I vow to focus on honesty, altruism, and unity.
As I write this vow, revolution is not necessarily my primary goal, but if the values mentioned above are not already present in ourselves, our government, and our society, then simply by focusing and working to bring them about, revolution will happen.
BE the change you wish to see in the world. We’ve done it before. The time has come to do it again.