The US election: Be the change you want to see
Hang with me here. I promise this isn’t another fatalistic, woe-is-me election post.
I don’t pretend to understand what just happened with the US election. I am not one to scream sexism without cause. I value people with different political views and I truly seek to understand other points of view, because that is what makes democracy work and what makes it special.
What I have seen in this election, pre and post, is an astounding lack of civility. Not even compassion, just plain civility. Since when are we obligated to mirror the beliefs of the person standing in front of us? We are not robots. At what point did we as human beings become so cold and jaded that instead of saying “I don’t agree”, we launch into a tirade that personally attacks and belittles the person standing in front of us? We degrade the very foundation that America was founded on: The right to free speech and peaceful protest.
I also can’t help but ask myself, was it just because HRC was a stoic woman that so many people, and women, decided to vote for Trump? Political views aside, a woman with 12 years as first lady, 8 years as a US Senator and 4 years as Secretary of State. She has proven her strength in both personal and professional matters, but somehow a man with no political history, numerous bankruptcies, and leaving employees without salaries is elected. He has lied endlessly, allegedly sexually assaulted multiple women and has continually used hate speech against minorities. How is this even a decision?
I have been told over and over again that I am not qualified for a job because I lack a certain credential or my background isn’t correct. Ultimately, I have been told, I am not suitable for anything other than administrative work because of my Bachelor’s, despite whatever skills I may have attained in my 15+ years of work experience and yet someone with no practical experience and allegations of sexual assault is deemed fit to be president? Maybe I should run in 2024 when I am finally old enough. At least I know I am more ethical.
But like I said, I am not here to be fatalistic or woe-is-me.
I have been trying to make sense of this and basically, this is the conclusion that I came to: I cannot change who is president or what his policies may be. I cannot protect my LGBT friends and family or my disabled sister. I cannot reassure my immigrant friends of their futures, but I can step up as a leader in my own right and I can stand with others while they find themselves and their voices.
Actions will always speak louder than words, and in many ways, I am eager to have a reason to step up and to be accountable for what I should have been doing already, albeit I wish the stakes were lower.
As the mom of two girls, I can teach them what it looks like to be a strong, kind woman. I can teach them that civility and compassion are what matters, that education, knowledge and listening are the most powerful antidotes we have. I can teach them that collaboration is the greatest cure for adversity. But most of all, I can teach them to be free-thinking leaders, problem solvers. I know I will never be the perfect role model, but I can strive to be.
So here’s what I think. I think it is time to wake up. It will take you two seconds to help that mom struggling to get her pram onto public transportation, but she will never forget that kindness. Collaborate. Go out of your comfort zone a little, smile and say “hello” to a stranger. Pay it forward.
The truth of the matter is that the election is over. It doesn’t matter who voted for whom at this point. We are all still Americans and if ever there was a time to band together, it is now, whether you believe we are on the brink of war or an economic surge. You have the right to feel just as the person next you does, even if you don’t understand why. You are not expected to love everyone. You are not even expected to like everyone. But, civility is simply civility: it doesn’t require positive feelings towards someone.
Just because the election is over, doesn’t mean you can’t change the momentum.