The emotional roller coaster is a never-ending ride. It takes you up to the top, slowly but surely, and then pulls you all the way down, fast as can be. I really wonder if a safety inspector would ever sign off on the roller coaster of my life over the past week…
Three weeks ago, I mailed in my ballot for the November 8th election. I made my choices for President, for Arizona’s representatives to the Senate and House of Representatives, for a few local elections, for a couple ballot propositions. I’m not a big fan of fighting lines on election day–so mailing the ballot in early has frequently been my choice over the past 10-12 years.
I won’t lie. This was a tough election. I have always prided myself as a staunch independent voter. I could care less what political party someone is from as long as I believe in what he or she stands for and plans to fight (for). True, this has generally landed me on the Democrat side of the ballot, but I try to keep an open mind. I’m very liberal when it comes to social issues and civil rights. I’m a tad bit more conservative when it comes to financial issues. In this election, we had the choice of Hillary Clinton, a 30-year veteran of the political sphere, a true politician in every sense of the word (both positive and negative connotations included), and Donald Trump, a relatively successful businessman with no political experience, and an unfortunate knack for sometimes engaging his mouth (or his Twitter account) before filtering those thoughts with his brain.
When the war within rages, social justice and civil rights issues will always carry the day. Faced with one candidate that has a track record in support of those issues and another that lets his temper get the better of him, that seemed to be okay accepting support from some of the most hateful people on the planet without much rebuke, I had to go with the one that I felt was less threatening to my sense of social justice.
The election came. The results shocked the world. For years now, people will try and figure out how all the pollsters, the pundits, the media–how they all got it so wrong. Was it blind faith in past trends? Was there some kind of massive mainstream media conspiracy? Did they miss something? Was there a huge “silent” vote that no one accounted for? Maybe we’ll find out–maybe we won’t. Either way, when America woke up on Wednesday morning, Donald Trump had become our President-Elect.
Some Americans rejoiced with dignity. Some Americans hung their heads in sorrow. This happens every election, usually with little more than a day or two of sour grapes. But this election was different. While some rejoiced with dignity and respect for the other side, some–emboldened by their belief that President-Elect Trump represented their twisted agenda–took the victory as a sign that it was okay to come out of the hate closet with a vengeance.
Over the past three days, there has been a spike in hate crimes across the country. Assaults against Latino/Latina, black, Asian, Muslim and female Americans just for who they are. Adults and children alike have been both instigators and victims.
At the same time, many on both sides have called for peace–have called for a chance to heal the divide in our country, in ourselves. Earlier today, the Trump campaign and various representatives of the Republican party called out the KKK and other hate groups, reminding them that President-Elect Trump and the Republican party do not represent their twisted world view.
Yes, there are many across the nation that are still scared, that are still angry that this hatred was, in their view, fanned and emboldened by the way Trump and his staff handled endorsements by hate groups throughout the campaign, how Trump failed to discourage his followers from hateful, xenophobic and racist speech at his rallies, making groups like the Klan and white nationalists feel like he represented their interests. Some of those people have taken to the streets in protest. Most peacefully, some not.
What we need, in this author’s humble opinion, is to listen to each other. Open our ears so that we can open our hearts and minds and find common ground that will allow us to heal the divisions in our country. I truly believe most Trump supporters are not rabid xenophobes, homophobes and racists. They’re loving, caring human beings–just like most Clinton supporters.
We need to be willing to listen and accept people for who they are–not who we think they should be. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Atheist or any other religious (or non-religious) group – we all cherish our children, we all cherish life and joy and happiness. Let us end the divisive rhetoric that objectifies women, that treats our LGBTQ+ friends like they must be “cured” of the essence of who they are, that continues unfair, untrue stereotypes. Let us celebrate religious freedom not as an excuse to exclude others that are different, but to allow all of us to be ourselves, free from fear of persecution. Let us appreciate our differences as a way to make our commonalities an even greater strength.
Will we all get along and find world peace? Not today. Probably not anytime in our lifetimes, but we can at least start the process–by simply listening to each other.