Last night, I watched in shocked horror along with my countrywomen and countrymen, as Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America. Truly, I did not think this would come to pass. I believed polls indicating a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton. Last night, I watched the country decide to vote in a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women, who has said violent and racist things about Muslims, African Americans, Mexicans, refugees… I watched a man be voted into our highest office, who laughed as people were bullied and intimidated, and in some cases humiliated and assaulted at his rallies. I held my husband’s hand and knew as the numbers came in that I would have to tell my children in the morning that Trump won. Not Hillary. I will not describe right now how that early morning conversation went. It was so personal, so tender. My daughter counted how old she’ll be next time a woman might have a shot at the presidency. I prayed quietly that some of my biggest fears would not come to pass in the coming four years.
Ultimately, I had to put on my grown-up self, and I had to explain to my children that half the country saw things differently than me and that we must be clear and specific when we criticize or otherwise remark on Trump’s inevitable presidency. No blanket statements. No simple rhetoric. I told my children, “we are not Trump.” And I mean it. We are not Trump. We will not reduce our complaints and criticisms to generalities, to lazy incomplete thoughts, sentences or stereotypes. We will do our best to understand the mindset that led to this terrible outcome. In my mind, it is terrible. It is a betrayal of epic proportions and I see no way through the tunnel of pain I exist in now other than to look with eyes wide open at the truth of what is.
We will name, in specific language, what we see in our culture, in our government and in ourselves. We will name and shed light on the dark spots in our psyches, the spots where fear lives, where judgment and racism live, where jealousy and indifference live. We will name and shed light on those parts of ourselves that move towards violence, repression, suppression and purposeful ignorance so that we don’t have to evolve, preventing change and growth. These are my prayers now. That I can live up to these ideals and model them for my children. My prayers are now pleas with my higher self and the higher self of our country, that we will not, ever, tolerate, exonerate, minimize or condone the cruel, degrading rhetoric that has spewed from our future president’s mouth. My prayers now implore my higher self to not succumb to despair, hopelessness and untethered anger.
Mr. Trump, you have a big job ahead of you, and I pray that you, too, take vows that reflect a deep respect for this world and for all the people in it, most of whom are not like you.