On election night, I wasn’t the only one in my household watching the results with dismay. My eleven-year-old son kept coming into the room, sitting with me, looking for reassurance. “It’s going to get better, Mom, isn’t it?” he kept asking.
Early on, I assured him it would, but, as it became apparent that the nightmare I’d dreaded for months was coming true, I had to be honest with him. “No, hon,” I told him finally as he lay in bed, the covers pulled up to his chin. “It’s not.”
“But how can he win?” he asked as he cried. “He’s a bad man. He hates everyone we love.”
I had the same questions. I shared my son’s despair. I continue to despair.
In the past few days, I’ve soothed him as best I can, with reassurances that our government contains checks and balances to keep our democracy safe from the whims of a single person. That country is at its heart one that cares for its citizens and was built on the bedrock of inclusiveness.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe my own reassurances. Not with Trump in power. Not with the cabinet members he’s surrounding himself with. Not with a Congress controlled by Republicans who are willing to distance Trump when he’s down but embrace him now that he’s won.
So I soothe myself the only way I know how: I write. I wrote a blog post about my experience this past election night, and I contributed to the article “12 Women on the Heartbreak of Watching Trump Win,” published by New York Magazine’s The Cut.
I will keep writing. It’s the way I process disappointment and fear and anger; it’s the way I make sense of the world. I’m also reading anything that gives me hope, like a letter Aaron Sorkin wrote to his daughters right after the election. In it, he recognized the gravity of Trump’s election. “I won’t sugarcoat it—this is truly horrible…Hate was given hope.” But he looked past his anger to the future. We will fight, he told his daughters. We will get involved. We will stand up. Because, as he said:
America didn’t stop being America last night and we didn’t stop being Americans and here’s the thing about Americans: Our darkest days have always—always—been followed by our finest hours.
I also want to fight and help initiate positive change to drag our country out of the mires of bigotry and hatred where its leadership now resides. But first I need to find a way to let the anger seep out of my heart, to make room for action, and hope. Hope that our country is better than this. Hope that we can get wrest our government out of the hands of those who seek to suppress anything other than like-minded views.
Hate isn’t the answer. Hope is. And action. Always action. [bctt tweet=”Hate isn’t the answer. Hope is. And action. Always action.” username=”colettesartor”]
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Q. “What are you planning to do to fight? To get involved? To stand up? Because I need guidance about specific goals to set, activities to pursue.”
Thank you for this post, Colette. Step one for me is to educate myself. I’m reading all that I can so that soon I can act with focus.
This is an unbelievably hard time for all of us. I especially feel for you parents. Stresses and fears are colliding. Within 40 hours of casting my vote and hearing the subsequent bad news, I had upset two people–both of whom I largely agree with–all because of my impassioned words weren’t fully thought out. According to many of the activists I follow on Twitter, I (a white woman) am the cause of DT’s victory. I read essays and tweets from people of color without commenting (of course, it’s time to listen), only to go on to mistakenly lash out at allies.
This morning I saw that Rob Spillman stated he’d register as a Muslim in solidarity when/if DT goes that far. I imagined doing that and added it to my list of research topics. I considered wearing a safety pin. Then I returned to Twitter I saw that a writer whom I greatly admire was shredding the safety pin trend. She tweeted, “You are not a ‘safe’ person just because you wear a #safetypin. This is nothing but a project to alleviate white guilt. Get up and do work.” So I scratched that idea.
I never anticipated that a T-presidency would mean we would be the ones building the walls between each other.