This week feels much more like we have reached the other side of a national disaster or suffered a collective death than like we have elected a new President. The atmosphere around me has been one of quiet fear, confusion, anger, and sadness. I have had my fair share of those emotions since waking up on Wednesday.
I don’t want to diminish the weight of what people are feeling. The fear is legitimate for many.
I have heard of misogynistic and racial attacks on individuals already, and Trump hasn’t even ascended to the Oval Office yet.
And in addition to the terror of what might happen to minorities through policy or mob, I have the very unique terror of realizing that we have just handed the most powerful position in the United States over to a man who meets all the qualifications of a cult leader, from the charisma to the totalism to the manipulation of the masses.
There is a part of me that just wants to curl up into a ball and scream…because once I got out of the IFB, I thought I would never have to face this again…because ever since I got out, I have lived in abject terror that it could happen again.
But currently, I am consciously choosing hope.
Hope is a funny emotion. It’s positive, but not the way that joy or happiness is. Hope is not necessary when things are going well. Hope is not a certainty that things will turn out the way we want them to.
Rather, hope is that strange emotion that shows up when things are going badly. It’s a bright emotion to dark and ambiguous circumstances.
In Tarot, hope is represented by The Star card. It tends to signify that things aren’t necessarily great right now. The night isn’t anywhere close to being through, and the darkness is thick. But the stars promise that there is still light somewhere. And even the little twinkling that comes from so far away can help lift the darkness that surrounds in the moment, if only just a little.
I have no doubt that we are guaranteed to have at least four difficult years. It’s hard to say exactly how difficult it will be because there are many aspects of this election that are unprecedented and unpredictable.
So today, I don’t want to pontificate about how dire things are or what the risks are. So many of us are already aware of all that.
Today, I want to talk about what is giving me hope.
- I have hope that, in this moment, we still have choices and power within ourselves to affect the future. Our civil rights movements have shown what can be accomplished when people work together for equality. We had enough people who were able to vote Trump into power, but we have still more that I hope will stand up to abuse where they see it.
- I have hope that this election will be a wake-up call for people to begin listening to each other, to fight the urge to lock oneself in an echo chamber. This election, more than anything, has shown me that isolationism doesn’t help us grow. Coercion doesn’t eradicate bigotry. It’s time to engage in the tough conversations. We have seen an uptick in homophobic, misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic speech, and the sad part is that liberals have participated just as horribly. But I refuse to accept that it has to be this way. We can put down our word-weapons, lean into the discomfort of trying to have reasoned discourse, and collectively learn together.
- I have hope that people can change, even the ones that I might have labeled “beyond hope.” Not everyone does, and this is not a hope that is based in naivety. I will not overlook abusive behavior in the “hope” that it will stop. However, it is a reality that people can and do change. I have. Some friends have. Recently, I’ve come to think that perhaps others like Glenn Beck have. Perhaps we won’t agree on everything, but when people make a genuine effort to challenge themselves and listen, there is hope in that space.
- I have hope that we can overcome adversity. And I have history to validate that hope. For every national tragedy, there are glowing bright spots of love, of people coming together to help one another, of courage, and of strength. We are a resilient people; many of us have already survived much. It’s not fair that we might need to again, especially for those of us who have experienced oppression and/or abuse already within our lifetime, but I have every confidence that we can survive more.
- I have hope we have the ability to influence each other in positive ways when we reach out in vulnerability and love, that conversation is the most powerful form of activism, that respect is possible, and that the majority of people want good things for themselves and others. We might not all have stellar ways of pursuing those desires. Communication, above all, is a skill and an art that needs to be honed and practiced. But there is opportunity if we can tap into the universal truth that none of us want to suffer and all of us want to be happy.
- I have hope that some of those who voted for Trump will stand against abuses of power, fight for the rights and dignity of others, and hold him accountable. I have even more hope that the 49% of voters who didn’t vote in this election will fight against apathy and will choose to engage in meaningful discourse and action on the side of freedom and equality.
- I have hope that I can make a difference in the world by making a difference in the personal lives of those I know. These last few days have been difficult to sit with people in their pain and fear while I myself am in so much pain and fear, but there is magic in connection. I am appreciative of the special role I get to play in helping people become their best self. That feels more important right now than ever.
- I have hope that we can learn from our mistakes. When we get to the end of this term, may we realize the shit-storm we created and take definitive action to make positive changes to our political system. May we realize the importance of checks and balances on power. As nice as it might be to think that a “good” President can put a “bad” guy in jail without due process…perhaps now our nation will see that stripping people of their rights in the name of good intentions only creates the possibility of having that used against us later.
Hope is not a promise.
There is much work that needs to be done in order for my hopes to bring me through the night and into the morning, but with hope, I can dedicate myself to that work and invite others to join me. It fuels my motivation to be actively involved and helps me see enough through the darkness to take up the power and choice that I have and use them to advocate for my and others rights.