My first reaction last night, beyond my shock and grief, was that I didn't recognize this as my country.
As I thought back over the election, I replayed in my mind the messages of hate, and racism, and misogyny. I wanted to think that it wasn't possible that the country I love, the country I tell myself is the home of freedom and equality, could be willing to vote in a person possible of so much divisiveness. I wanted to believe that we were better. That our country was better. I wanted to believe that the factions of this country steeped in hate and fear and xenophobic beliefs, were small, and fringe, and isolated.
But I have now come face to face with the reality of what is true. That the country I want to believe in may not have ever existed.
This country was created on a bedrock of war. We are the violent immigrants that overtook a people already inhabiting this nation. We have stolen, we have killed. We have committed genocide. And somehow, through that, we have become the ideal as a beacon of equality. We have fought hard and violently against feminism. We have fought, literally, to the death against civil rights, and LGBT rights. We have terrorized, we have beaten, we have crushed, we have swindled, we have lied.
Those things happened. They are who this country has been. It is our historical reality.
But, there have been those on the right sides of those histories. There were those that stood against slavery, genocide, reservations, segregation, lynching, beating, oppression. Many times at the risk of their own lives. They deserve, and this country deserves, to be honest about its past.
Because, it is what we have just come face to face with.
We are standing in a country that has had its deeds and their legacies, which have been kept cloaked and hushed, dragged out into the harsh light of the present. And many of us are left in shock, and disbelief. We cannot understand how we are poised on the precipice of falling so far backwards, undoing much of the good so many have fought for. We are standing, face to face, with the worst of who we have been, and clearly, who many of us still are. We have had a candidate who has stood in front of the people, promising a "change", a return for many to a place of power that they have felt wilting away. The power over the "other", whichever the other may be... immigrants, women, minorities, environmentalists, gun control activists, Muslims, lesbian, gay, trans and queer brothers and sisters.
Those of us who stand for inclusion and love were in denial. We didn't want to see how many people in the country are still living with roots in its past.
Now, we know.
We see the Confederate flags flying on the backs of pickup trucks at polling places. We hear the chants of "Make America White Again!". We feel the pain of knowing that ourselves, and people we love, may now be in the crosshairs of a campaign won on hate. We laughed when people compared this reality show star to Hitler because we never believed he could rise to power. And then, we wake up this morning, to his Presidency. And the KKK marching in robes at dawn.
This is the true America. Divided down the middle. Divided down its spirit, and its soul.
Those of us that are left, shaken and stunned, will have to finally look honestly, deeply at our own reality.
And pray that we can change it. Pray that we can protect those we love from hate. Pray that our environment will not be decimated in the next four years. Pray that this country can become better.
Pray that the America we talk of... the home of the free, with liberty and justice for all... will one day be more than words in a song or an oath. They will be who we really are. And may those of us with a broken spirit rise up and fight for what is right and just and good and fair. May we be outraged and disillusioned and angered enough to sacrifice and struggle and keep moving the towards the light. And may we be the shield, the guardians, the protectors of all that is in danger, of all that calls out for our help. May we never give up.
And may hate never win again.