I tend to think of birthdays as soul-searching times, taking stock of one’s life times. On the eve of another birthday, I’m giving a lot of thought to who I want to be going forward.
I know this: I want to be kind. I want to spread love. I want to be as gracious as President Obama and Secretary Clinton were in their post-election speeches. I want to be an example for my children.
I know this too: I am lifted by the fact that the people I know are good people. That we are all trying to do the right thing, trying to support our families and communities.
But I also want to be clear-eyed. I can’t unsee those awful t-shirts worn by Trump supporters, unhear those ugly assaulting words used by the candidate himself. I can’t comprehend that so many women would choose to vote for such a man. I don’t want to pretend everything’s ok when it’s not.
So I want to speak my truths. I want to be a fighter when fighting’s called for. Because my children deserve that too. All our children do.
We know President-elect Trump is a fighter. (Truth: that is hard to write, acknowledging this man who said such cruel, ugly things will be our president.) I’m honestly not very optimistic but I hope he will do some soul-searching and try to be kind too, be a president to every American.
Here is another hope for me: I know plenty of smart Republicans of good heart and good will here in D.C. and outside the beltway; I hope Mr. Trump hires some of them in his administration. I hope they can steer him off his path of ugliness and demeaning people to a path of reconciliation. I hope.
But hoping isn’t enough, is it? There’s a certain clear-eyed owning of reality that is called for in these times, isn’t there?
So I will channel the oh-so wise J.K. Rowling and her words after the election:
“We stand together. We stick up for the vulnerable. We challenge bigots. We don’t let hate speech become normalized. We hold the line.“
I need to remember the words of writer/activist Luvvie Ajayi, who educated Hillary supporters grumbling about black turnout, noting that 96 percent of black women voters chose Hillary. That only 47 percent of white women did. Luvvie told disappointed white women to get past “I don’t know what to do anymore” and take some action, starting with talking to our own communities.
I also want to harken the words of Connie Schultz (journalist, writer, and mentor to many aspiring writers) in this excerpt from her recent piece in Creators.com:
“Every morning, we are faced with a decision before our feet hit the floor. Will we join the defeated, the ones who finally caved? Or will we continue to fight? I know from long experience which answer will rouse us from our beds with our character intact.”
I know too. Because with each year, I’m that much wiser. And clear-eyed. And full-hearted. And ready to fight.
Whew. Now I need to go find some cake.
NOTE: This post won’t be for everyone. Believe me, I’m not great with discomfort either. But it’s go time. We have to get used to more uncomfortable situations if we’re going to build understanding. If it helps, I’m doing it too. The Awesomely Luvvie post-election Facebook Live recap did not make me feel good. But I heard it. My understanding grew. And that’s what we call progress.