The Aftermath.

The past couple days, not gonna lie, have been a time of disbelief, severe analysis, doubt, and potent resolution. 
Walking to class on November 9th, the sky was grey. It drizzled.  The campus felt much emptier than normal.  In my first class of the day I could feel a somber and almost hostile aura engulfing my classmates.  Some were silent.  Some were vocal.  Some were sobbing. 
Everywhere I went, the election was the trending conversation.  
And, as internally torn as I am about perpetuating all of this political nonsense, I can’t resist voicing my opinion any longer.
I just want to put forth a couple of things that I believe to be true, and then explain them in as much detail as I can to convey what I’m thinking briefly.  So bear with me.  
1. America is at a critical point in history right now.
2. The world is not going to end.
3. Both candidates, according to what I believe and the beliefs of the people that surround me most immediately, were unfit candidates.
4. Some fear is absolutely justified, but not all of it.
5. For as many people who are angry that Trump won, there are as many who are happy he won, too.
6. Trump is not a dictator.
7. Internet hate is at an all time high. 
8. The divide between people’s political views are causing extreme chasms between people themselves.
9. Fighting fire with fire is not an effective strategy.
10. …Neither is moving to Canada. 
11. We need to listen to each other. 
12. Unification and collective action in this matter is more important now than ever.
1. America is at a critical point in history right now. 
People are upset. People are joyful. People are proud of America. People are ashamed of America. People are excited and ready for change. People are terrified. Trump’s the new Hitler. Trump is going to make America great again. America isn’t great anymore. America was always great.
 For the first time in a while, there is such an intense, hate-filled divide.  America has made a choice, and there’s not much right now that we can do about it.  This’ll be one for the history books.  Sure, we’ve elected the next president, but you can’t forget that we’ve also, essentially, elected the next opinions of the American people.  So it lies in our hands, too– to change ourselves and our views and make Trump work for us. 
2. The world is not going to end. 
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the word “apocalypse” appear on my Twitter feed recently, but let’s be real.  Today is a new day.  You still have the same rights you did a day, two days, a week, and a month ago.  And as long as the days keep coming, and you’re still aware and active in your rights, then you have the potential to change things.  To get out there and advocate like hell for what you believe in. If you have issues with what has happened are not doing everything within your power to stand up for what you believe in, then you are a bystander.  Do not be a bystander.
3. Both candidates, according to what I believe and the beliefs of the people that surround me most immediately, were unfit candidates.
There is no question that Trump has said horrendous things towards minorities, members of the LGBTQAI+ community, women, and other sectors of American people.  There is no question that he is crude and has done questionable things in the past. There is no question that his plans are vague and his facts incorrect. There is no question that Hillary Clinton is inconsistent with her beliefs (I have compared and contrasted interviews upon interviews from early 2000’s to her stance now, and, as is common with most politicians, there’s platform change to please the people.  It’s inevitable.) There’s no question that because of those things, and other areas of her life, she is considered to be untrustworthy.  There is no question that both wear a mask, with facades and preach a thick rhetoric.  One is a business man.  One was secretary of state.  There’s no question regarding experience.  The American people, above all, seem to value the character of whoever they put into office, even though the election results are baffling in this regard.  As many frustrated first-time voters are saying, “it was a choice between a lesser evil”.  Point is, this election was not in the best light from the beginning. But we HAVE to make lemonade out of these political lemons. More on that later. 
4. Some fear is absolutely justified, but not all of it. 
I keep hearing people say “don’t tell me not to be scared if you are a white person”. Well, guess what. I’m a white person. But I know countless women, children, members of the LGBTQAI+ community, and minorities.  And they are incredibly close to my heart.  And I am scared for them. But I am also encouraging them not to be scared.  If you think about it, the people who have Trump as an enemy have an additional enemy: fear.  I just watched a TEDTalk the other day about fear warping our minds into illogical messes. How the hell are we supposed to get back up, dust ourselves off, and get back on our fierce, full-galloping progressive horse when we’re scared of the dust, the race, and the re-mounting? Yes, Trump made remarks about a wall. Yes, he made remarks about deporting Muslims. Yes, he’s made incredibly nasty remarks towards women. But the things he’s done in the past… if the system is working the way it’s supposed to, he will be exposed and his actions/words will reflect negatively against him.  This is already happening. We saw the popular vote results.  Millennials are angry, and they will take action.
And the fact that women are afraid of sexual assault because of his presidency brings to surface an issue more grave than having a lewd and disrespectful president: men feel that it’s okay to engage in such despicable behavior because our president is doing it.  Not only does that mean that, obviously, Trump needs to be a better role model, but it also goes to show that some people are mindless followers and they need to fix themselves and seriously assess their behavior.  
But the things he plans to do…. He has no plan.  He has no structure.  He’s nothing but a star of TV drama and a cranky businessman.  He needs to get permission to do this. He needs to go through the system. The logistics of the empty claims he throws out to get attention require an extreme amount of planning, money, and approval.  If you’ve any faith in the American system and in humanity, believe that the system will slow him down and the constitution will be scrutinized to shoot down any unconstitutional crap he tries to pull.  But he has control of the House and the Senate! is what I hear.  That may be the case, but Trump is no orthodox Republican.  He’s angered many of “his party” (let’s be real, what even is Trump’s party?). I have a feeling that when it comes down to putting policy into action, Trump will be met with more opposition that you’d suspect.  And so I remain not fearful, but skeptical. Critical. This encourages me, if anything, to get more involved than ever and discover what I can do to best fight for what I believe in. I encourage others to be trying to do the same.  
5. For as many people who are angry that Trump won, there are as many who are happy he won, too.
At home, I am surrounded by tons of Liberal leaning people.  And they’re probably depressed right now.  However there are also people I know who were right-leaning and are happy with the outcome. What people need to understand is that you cannot judge people immediately based on their vote. You have no idea how many people I talked to who voted Trump only because they detested Hillary and didn’t see the point of voting third party.  In addition, you’ve no idea how many people begrudgingly voted for Hillary because they absolutely detested Trump.  You also have no idea how many people I know who didn’t vote, voted third party, or write-in because they either a) didn’t like either of the candidates b) got so angry at the system they rebelled by not voting or c) had some sliver of hope a third option would open up. But the people who set out to vote for Trump, more than likely, did not vote for him because he’s “a rapist and a racist”. And the people who voted for him, I have faith, are not exclusively “rapists and racists”.  The main reasons hear people bringing up when I ask them about their decision to vote Trump is a belief that he is 
  • outside the system
  • not a politician (NOTE: not very experienced either, IMHO)
  • focused on making America self-sufficient
  • going to approach the presidency bluntly and with a new perspective
  • a republican (NOTE: this belief was mostly held by people who felt they had to be loyal to their party, which, IMHO isn’t necessarily a good voting strategy)
  • intent on his view on taxes
  • aware that gun control is an issue but a right to be protected
  • going to combat illegal immigration
People who set out to vote for Hillary have their own points too.  They didn’t vote for her because she’s “untrustworthy, cold, a liar and an inconsistent politician”.  They voted for her because
  • she wasn’t Trump (NOTE: seemed to be a top reason)
  • she’s a woman (NOTE: seriously? Are we playing the gender game? Like, I’m all for a woman president but that should not be the only thing you’re voting for.  Platform, character, consistency, and competence are, IMHO, the most important qualities of a candidate. If we’re voting by gender, sexuality, age, race, ethnicity, or skin colour…we’re doing it wrong.)
  • she supports progressive views such as women’s right to choose and LGBT rights
  • she believes gun control is a right but an issue when it comes to who can buy them and where/when we can have them
  • she believes education should be debt free
  • she has an inclusive view towards immigrants and refugees.
All of these things are policy based.  As American people, we know what is wrong in society. We see these issues every day. But instead of standing around and watching them, we need to identify them, bring them to the attention of our representatives, and fight like hell to get our representatives to work for us. Point is, people saw different things in the candidates and acted on those perceptions.  Whether those actions were educated and whether those perceptions were correct is a WHOLE ‘nother issue that needs to be explored by voters themselves as they talk LOGICALLY and CALMLY with one another.  One of the great things about America is a right to free speech.  Votes, in my opinion, count as speech.  And just like no one should be shamed for their religion, people should not be put to shame based on a generalization of their vote.  It is a case by case basis, and you need to take action yourself to dissect the reasons for why people vote the way they do.
6. Trump is not a dictator. 
Aren’t you glad we don’t live in a country with a dictator? Guys. We have a system that involves checks and balances. I am normally an optimistic person.  I believe that like the truth, justice has a way of leaking out and prevailing. I believe in our system.  Sure, it’s by no means perfect… But it’s the best representation of founding beliefs and democracy that I know. And I know other people think otherwise, but that’s okay. I do know that the beauty of our system is based majorly on the power of the people.  We have the power to change things, and to me, that is really all that matters.  Back on the note of Trump not being a dictator: Trump’s behavior does not, for a minute dictate ours.  Just because he is president doesn’t mean we should all use slander and racism and stereotyping.  We should be doing the opposite…which means opening our eyes and getting educated.  And because Trump is the president, and not a dictator, we have the personal rights and the power to do that.  But you’re white. You have privilege. Not everyone is equal, don’t you see that? Dude, believe me.  I am aware. And you’re right, it’s not fair. It’s not fair that people have been trampled on and ignored in society.  Privilege should obviously be granted to everyone. Heck, it wouldn’t even be called “privilege” if everyone had it.  So yes, we’re lacking in the justice department– unequal pay, reproductive rights, the list goes on and on… But that doesn’t mean we can’t fight for any of those things.  Regardless of your influence, your status, your beliefs… anyone is capable of making a stand. It just requires dedication and effort.  If you don’t feel like you’re being heard, you talk to everyone you know to make sure you do get heard.  And, as bad as this sounds, get your word out to influential people.  As for the white people prancing around claiming they’ve been “liberated”…. stop it, and sit down. You’re being obnoxious and inconsiderate. This is a group effort, and the more we keep sectioning ourselves off, the worse it gets.
One more thing—since when does Trump control our actions? Since when, after we vote, have we turned into the exact carbon copy of the candidate we supported? People who voted for Hillary are referred to as “liars”, “cold hearted”, “sell-outs”, and “crooked Liberals”. People who voted for Trump are referred to as “rapists”, “homophobes”, and “racists bigots”.  Why? If this is our thought process, we’re just as bad at throwing out slanderous labels as the candidates are themselves.
7. Internet hate is at an all-time high. 
The hate is all over our feeds.  And it’s depressing, because some people marinate in it, some people thrive on it, and some people perpetuate it, sizing up people by their votes, belittling others (on both sides!). If it is too much for you, please. I beg you. Shut down your computer. Put your phone down. Walk away.  And try to find it in yourself to be/say something positive.
8. The divide between people’s political views are causing extreme chasms between people themselves.
It’s hard imagining this Thanksgiving. I know politics will weasel their way between the turkey and the green bean casserole, snaking its way down the throats of all of the diners.  But it DOESN’T HAVE TO.  Blowing off your mother because she’s a staunch Hillary supporter, continually throwing it in her face that Trump won, is rude and stupid. Putting your family into exile because they voted Trump is rude and stupid. The wider the chasm gets between people, the less able they are able to realize that there is a bridge.  Don’t forget, that at the end of the day, you both, regardless of who you voted for, exercised your civic duty. You both valued the system enough to do something, to get out there and get your voice heard.  And that’s enough. And slamming people for ad hominem arguments against their candidate is a waste of time.
9. Fighting fire with fire is not an effective strategy.
Stop hating on everyone else.  The election is over.  Sure, grieve if you like, do whatever you do, but now is not the time to be spewing hate everywhere. This is the nose-to-the-grindstone-how-am-I-gonna-make-a-change-and-build-upwards-and-build-others-upwards period, not the tear-everyone-down-because-of-who-they-voted-for-and-split-society-even-more.  Fighting fire with fire is not the answer.  Responding to Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric with excessive sadness, hate and hateful comments is not getting us anywhere. Responding to Hillary’s campaign, past actions, and election result with excessive sadness, hate, hateful comments is not getting us anywhere. 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Just recently in a sermon I heard this past Sunday my reverend made reference to the phrase “turning the other cheek”.  She said that in Roman times, if you were to slap someone beneath you, you would slap them with your palm making contact to their face. If you were to back-hand slap someone, it symbolized that you were their equal.  She was getting at the fact that Jesus tells us, with our enemies, to turn the other cheek. When we’re slapped, we turn our face, expose our other cheek, which entices the slapper to backhand us in the other direction. If they follow through with the back-handing, they’ve just pronounced us as their equal.  So it’s not an act of weakness, like offering both cheeks to be slapped… it’s so much more. It’s an act of strength, of defiance.  Look at it this way– we’ve been slapped. As a nation, so to say. We must turn the other cheek. Not back down, but declare ourselves as equals and take a stand to work to improve our situation.  
10. …Neither is moving to Canada. 
Okay seriously? Are you really gonna uproot yourself and your life here and move to Canada because your beloved candidate lost or your least favorite candidate won?  Think about what that says about your willingness to take a stand and persevere with America through this difficult time. We need all the help we can get, and you moving to Canada means we’ve got less people on the front lines battling for what they believe in. So please, don’t move to Canada.
11. We need to listen to each other.  
Just yesterday I was reading my textbook for my communications class, and the chapter had to do with listening.  First thing we need to understand (and this was reinforced in that chapter I read) is that there is a difference between hearing and listening. Just because you can hear the opinions around you and take in the emotions and feelings of others, doesn’t mean you’re listening to them. Listening is an active process that requires attentiveness and sensitivity.  It’s not enough to hear people rant on and on, to hear televised debates, to hear arguing between two people.  Listening requires time and effort. Time because it takes patience. Let the other person explain themselves. Effort because you have to pay attention, and discern and sort through the facts and what you believe to be true.  Blind listening or numb listening is not effective or helpful.  
Just yesterday I was walking back from getting food when I saw a crowd of people huddled in front of the library.  Upon closer investigation I discovered that the students were all crowded around a bull-horn guy (a street evangelist, or whatever… I’m not really sure of the exact name people use for them.  But anyways).  He was going on and on about how we are all sinners and are all going to hell, taking literal translations from the bible that you must hate your mother, your father, your family, your possessions… in order to truly be one with God.  Some people, like me, were just spectators.  Others were instigators, and others were investigators.  The investigators were the admirable ones.  They would ask the guy questions about his faith, questions relating to the modern world, and how what he was preaching applied or did not apply to our current post-election status. There was booing, there was jeering, there was disrespect.  Then one girl raised her hand.  After many “please, sir”s and frustrated eyebrow knits, the girl was finally heard by the crowd. 
She spoke out, loud and clear:

“I know so many of us feel lost and angry and sad and disappointed right now.  What happened last night, on both sides, showed America slipping through the cracks.  But we’er better than that! You know what the problem is? We don’t listen! We only hear ourselves, talk about ourselves, believe in ourselves, like we’re experts on everything.We’ve lost our ability to argue sensibly and constructively. All we do is tear eachother down and then we wonder why our country is in shambles?”

Unfortunately, because I had to scoot on to a class, I gave her a giant “AMEN!” and walked away, but her message rang in my ear.  We’re such an individualist culture that often we don’t take the time or the effort to put down the word “I” and give “we” or “you” a try.  Let alone let someone else finish a sentence before us.  So what if we butt heads over politics? We should be letting each person have their say, encourage people to inform themselves with facts as well as the opinions of others, and then come together to constructively disagree and generate a whole new perspective.  
12.  Unification and collective action in this matter is more important now than ever. 
In the turmoil of the day after elections, I found myself singing a hymn in my head.  The chorus goes as such:

“We are called, to act with justice/ we are called, to love tenderly/ we are called to love one another… and walk humbly with God”
Now I know not everyone is on the same page religion-wise…but there’s something about this song and its message that I think is applicable to all cultures and religions….and that’s love.  We have a responsibility as human beings to stop what we are doing and just love one another.  Nelson Mandela once said: 
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
 [/end rant]

It’s not about who is right and who is wrong, when it comes to elections, voting, party loyalty, or even candidates.  It’s about talking to people and figuring out how they think and what they want, and then working together with them to either better understand them, or perhaps suggest to them a new point of view.  We cannot be divided.  People may think that after this election, we’re forced to take sides. To choose between good and evil. I think that couldn’t be further from the truth.  This election is most definitely a test.  A test to challenge our judgement, our opinions, our relationships, our believes, and most importantly, to challenge ourselves and how we treat other people.  It shocked me on multiple accounts that so many people who preach tolerance and became so sour and preached hateful things both towards and against candidates, voters, and non-voters after the election results. It’s not about right and wrong.  It’s not about hate or love.  I take that back, it is. But it’s about love. 
Not hate. Loving each other. Regardless of who they vote for, regardless of what they believe.  

Creating a chasm in society is not what we’re after. I’ve seen so many post the sentiment “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. And it’s true.  There’s no chance of bettering the system if we’re not united.  No, I’m not telling you to calm down. Freak out if you want. No, I’m not denying the implications of the four years ahead.  Look at the footage, look at the facts, and draw your own conclusions. But I’m urging you, whoever you may be, to look past just the raw circumstances.  If anything, this is a call to be more involved than ever, more analytical in our thinking, more willing to listen to other people and do your best to understand where they are coming from, even if it seems incredulous how they got there. This is a call to stand up firmly for what you believe in, and act on it.  This is a call to stand united.  


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