The Search for Healing and Hope in the Post-Election Wake

Trump what? How do we process and channel our emotions into healing and action?
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"Unafraid And Unashamed" by Julian Raven, Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Like so many others, my heart is heavy.

To be honest, I wasn't thrilled with our choices for president. Though I was excited about the prospect of our first female president, I was #onlykindawithher in some respects, but ultimately I knew that with Hillary at least our lives, loves, bodies, civil liberties, and choices wouldn't be in danger.

I'm almost less troubled by Donald Trump as president-elect (almost) than I am about the millions and millions of people in this country who wholly subscribe to his ideologies, or hold even more extreme views, if that makes sense.

I'm overwhelmed by the work ahead of us…

I'm overwhelmed thinking about the young people who woke up to an American landscape that fundamentally and irrevocably fractured in the last 24 hours.

I'm overwhelmed thinking about the teachers and parents with knots in their stomachs, asking themselves how they can possibly explain this to a child when they can barely understand it themselves.

I'm overwhelmed thinking about the privileges afforded by the sheer color of my skin; about the millions and millions of people who woke up scared on Wednesday morning because of the color(s) of theirs.

I'm overwhelmed by our divisive political system, where competition and winning have overwhelmingly caused us to lose sight of humanity.

I'm overwhelmed by the reality that we're at war with each other in this country; and I’m even more broken thinking about the actions and explanations that will be defended at the expense of human rights...of lives...of hope.

If you are grappling with what to say, with how to feel, with what to do now, I humbly offer these words, for what they’re worth, because writing is the best way I know how to heal.

If you are sad today, good. If you are angry, even better. And if you are surprised—if you feel like you've been slapped across the face, blindsided by these results, and are even more overcome by the realization that too many Americans categorically chose Trump to lead our country—that may be the most important and telling reaction of all. It means you’re waking up. Your job now is to stay woke.

If there was any doubt that racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and white privilege and supremacy are not only alive and well, but popular enough for a landslide victory in electoral votes, this is our answer.

This is our country. This is our America. If you are surprised, it means your beliefs—what you want and hope to be good and true in this world—have been disrupted. Your bubble of reality has been pin-pricked, perhaps it's burst completely. On Wednesday morning, a reality outside of your purview, of your wildest imagination, set in. My bubble included. New York City is a bubble that provided me (and so many others) a false sense of security and hope in the last few weeks, especially on Election Day. I feel ignorant. Embarrassed. Naive. This country is so much bigger than my little privileged liberal bubble. I have to do better.

If you need to scream or cry or point fingers, do it. Do it today. Continue to be angry and sad in the days to come, but with each day try to further channel those emotions into productive conversations and actions. The time for critical thinking and awareness, for sharpening our media literacy tools, and for rising up in a country where not all lives matter, where we are still not equal, is now.

It's going to be a long few days, but giving up, or wallowing in sadness, or replaying the unconscionable series of events from the last 24 hours, that ends tonight. It has to. Because tomorrow, we fight. Tomorrow we become or rejoin or seek out the warriors, the groups and communities that will give us strength and hope and courage as we move forward. As we fight. As we figure out who we are and determine who we want to be.

We have to do better. I have to do better.

This is the work, and the work, in so many respects, is just beginning.

Further reading:

What Do We Tell the Children? by Ali Michael Ph.D., in the Huffington Post

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