So where do we go from here? The unthinkable has happened and we are all now trying to wrap our heads around the implications. The news today was just chock full of worst case scenarios of how a Trump presidency could undo all of the gains we have made in the last four years. Friends and loved ones, immigrants to this country who worked hard to become citizens and be apart of the American dream, are all wondering if they should leave. Will reproductive rights be stripped, will Don't Ask/Don't Tell be reinstated, will same sex families once again be considered illegal?
Those articles and posts that aren't anticipating Armageddon are too busy looking for someone to blame. Was Hillary too flawed, would Bernie have had a better chance, did the campaign make a mistake in this state or in that state, was Trump taken too seriously too late? But here is the thing ... none of that matters now. We can't spend our time wallowing in depression and fear. It was fear that won this election and we cannot let fear keep winning.
We have seen unprecedented progress in the last eight years. Obama's presidency broke through racial barriers and embraced a more progressive and inclusive idea of what it means to love. He showed us that change was possible even as he was blocked at every step of the way. The forces of fear tried so hard to stop his progress, but they couldn't. Every time they tried, he found a way around them and he carried the country right along with him. And progress was made by leaps and bounds.
But as he and our country moved forward, those that feared change became ever more panicked. It could be seen in the birther movement and the attempts to invalidate his presidency. It was in the rise in racism, homophobia, the rejection of science, increased control over women's reproductive rights, and religious fundamentalism that begged the courts to be allowed to discriminate at will. The world was changing too fast for them to accept and they looked for someone, anyone, to save them from it.
It was as simple as that. Trump won because he gave a voice to that fear and told them they could change it all back. It really could have been anyone. It wasn't the messenger ... it was the message. It didn't matter that the message came in such an awful and flawed package. They ignored that the message also included hate, xenophobia, homophobia, and rampant misogyny. It was even helpful that the message gave them so many reasons to justify their fear: immigrants, refugees, Islam, political correctness. And the ultimate threat ... their going to take your money and your guns and leave you defenseless. For people already in fear of the unknown, this is enough to send them over the edge. And now we must all pay the price of this horrendous backlash against progress.
So where do we go from here? How do we find our way forward without succumbing to despair? Well, here is the thing to remember above all ... progress is inevitable. Yes, things will be difficult for a while. We are all in uncharted territory and we don't know what the future holds right now. But there is a future and forward motion is a natural process. Those of us who believe in diversity, inclusiveness, and love for all have a great challenge ahead. We CANNOT lose those values we hold dear. We must stand firmly on the side of progress. Make our voices heard and our intentions clear. If we give into our fear and let it dim our inner light, then we truly have lost. We must make our light shine even brighter. Show those around us that the principles we hold dear are worth fighting for ... that those we love who now feel marginalized are worth fighting for.
When you see someone rejected, include them in your circle
When you see someone in need, help them however you can
When you see a bully, call them out and help their victim
When you see an opportunity to share your light, do so
Keep that light high. Let those who are lost know that they aren't alone. When you feel down, talk to each other and share that light. The world took a large step back this week, but it still moves ever forward. It's inevitable.