I have a feeling that if you’re reading this, you’re probably pretty distraught over the news of the election results. Perhaps like me, the tension leading to election night has brought on all sorts of anxiety, sleepless nights, and finally just bafflement as the results came rolling in and you thought: How in the world can this be happening? You want to disbelieve that Americans could have ushered in this kind of person to be the Commander in Chief of one of the world’s super powers. Perhaps you are reading because like me, you want someone to give you some glimmer of hope that things are going to be okay these next four years, or possibly eight (shit, I don’t even want to think about how old I’ll be).
Well, I can’t, not really anyway. I wish I could but I think it wouldn’t matter much what I say, because it won’t change the reality we’re facing as the Americans who did not want this man to become the 45th president. All countries suffer at various points in their histories from poor leaders, dictators, tyrants, etc., and perhaps now the US is about to suffer the worst leader this country has ever seen.
Perhaps like me, you’ve thought of leaving the US to avoid this possible future. It sure does sound nice to think about starting life over again in some place more aligned with our views. Celebrities might be able to do it, but most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to leave the US and set up life in another country. We get by pay check to pay check. How are we going to make a huge move abroad? Do we speak the native language? Would we be able to find work? And then there is just the sheer investment we’ve all made in our lives. We have homes we have worked hard for, children in schools, pets we love, our own friends and family connections, or jobs or businesses we have established.
Those of us not for Trump will all act with anger and sadness. Of course, this is necessary, but what’s next? Some people will move to passivity and an “oh well” attitude, and get back to normal life, but without some element of change, this is harmful. If there is anything we should take away from this election is this: the racism, misogyny, ignorance, and xenophobia that have been so rampant in the rhetoric of our new president elect is nothing new. These intolerant ways have always been there, only now through the affirmation of Trump, the large segment of American society that voted for him are sending the message that these negative things are acceptable and condone them. I don’t want to think of my country as being one that is OK with hating women, Muslims, gays, immigrants, or any other human being living on the periphery, but perhaps I’ve been blind and too hopeful that we are smart enough to see through the ills that seem to plague other countries. I can’t imagine what parents are trying to teach their children about this election.
So, I think short of just leaving the US entirely, the only way to survive this Trump presidency is to be and do everything he is not: informed, compassionate, involved, and open-minded, inside the communities in which we live. For this, I can do what I’ve always done: keep creating, writing stories and creating films about diverse people and the broad spectrum of human life, because these are positive things that not only help me get through these dark times, but I add creativity to the world, I add a voice when women’s voices are sorely needed. But outside of this in my day-to-day life where I spend most of my time, I can also be more conscious through small gestures of kindness: practice more patience with others and try to smile more. I can be more present and mindful of the good moments when they happen: a good meal with a friend in a favorite restaurant, hearing the rain outside my window while sipping a glass of wine, enjoying my cats’ company and love. When we give up the positive things we do, when we start spending too much time in hate and anger, then we succumb to the level that Trump is at, and the vitriol he used to attract his followers, and then, we ultimately just contribute to his prophecy.
(Photo from Treehugger.com)