Today I walked down to the lake near my house and sat on a rock by the water. I needed to get away from my computer, from the endless articles I was reading, from Facebook, from the noise. There were hardly any people around and the lake was more still than I’ve seen it be since I moved in a month ago. It’s really cold today, and I wasn’t dressed for it, so sitting wasn’t a very attractive option. But I knew my soul needed to listen to the water, so I sat.
Like many of my incredible friends in the States and around the world, I am shaken by the results of the election. I keep reaching out to my friends, sending love, not knowing what to say.
It’s so stressful and startling to hear the things that we’ve been hearing. That the markets at one point last night dropped to lower than they were after 9/11. That my friends who are teachers are posting that their students are crying and afraid, worried for the safety of their family. That there was so much voter suppression during this election, and who knows how much that affected the results. That a Trump presidency may have horrific outcomes for civil rights. That people are joking about the fact that the Canadian immigration website crashed last night, which of course is not a joke at all for the thousands of rightly terrified people whom Trump threatened countless times during his campaign: immigrants, people of colour, women, trans people, people with disabilities, the list goes on.
As I sat by the water, I noticed that my hands were warm. My face was warm. The sun was so strong that the entire front side of me was completely cozy and warm, even as I still had – literally – shivers down my spine. A little ways behind me rushed the sound of cars speeding across (count em’!) more than 10 lanes of traffic. In front of me, quiet water with barely any ripples and endless blue sky without many clouds. Behind me noise, in front of me, peace. In front of me, light and warmth, behind me shadows and cold.
That kind of sums up how I have felt today as the day has carried on. I am turning my face towards the light, even as I feel chilled to the bone.
And there is light here. If you need some, let me share what I have with you.
Most importantly, there is this: Hillary won the popular vote. Not by the landslide we were hoping or even by a very large margin, but in this one small way, I feel calmer.
There is this map, that shows what the election results were for voters under 25. It gives me hope that slowly, surely, as a whole, we are moving towards the light.
This is how the future voted. This is what people 18-25 said in casting their votes. We must keep this flame alight and nurture this vision. pic.twitter.com/ivuXrar869
— Eliza Byard (@EByard) November 9, 2016
I am heartened by my teacher friends like Katie and Nancy Sue, who are telling their students, in the wake of the fear and chaos, that they are safe and loved.
I am heartened by people like my friend Parker, who is using his (white, male) voice and platform to specifically share strong, true, unapologetic perspectives about what this result will mean for the huge groups of people who are oppressed in countless ways in modern-day America.
I am heartened by my bosses and dear friends the Red Tent Sisters who cried this morning over the results but were so galvanized and committed in knowing that their work for women’s health and empowerment is more essential than ever.
I am heartened by these words from Elizabeth Gilbert, offering us an invitation to step away from all the noise and ask ourselves “who do I want to be in this moment?”
I am heartened by this post from the MEHRIT Centre re-framing the stress, pain, and fear from a scientific perspective, and trying to use soft eyes of compassion and understanding when things feel confusing and upsetting.
I am heartened by the words of my acquaintance and State Senator of Nebraska Adam Morfeld, and to know that he, like undoubtedly countless other politicians in America are deciding to use this result as fuel and motivation to create the change they want to see in the world.
I am heartened that amidst the madness, beautiful things occurred, like that Nevada elected Catherine Cortez, the first Latina Senator in U.S. history, and that in Portland, Maine, Pious Ali was the first African-born Muslim ever elected to city council.
I am heartened that as the day wears on, I am seeing more of my friends sharing messages of compassion, love, understanding, and the strong conviction that most Americans are inherently good people, no matter how they voted. To repeat: people are emphasizing, again and again, that feeling hateful towards entire demographics is (while easy, automatic and may feel natural) ultimately unhelpful and inaccurate. People are almost always doing the best that they can in their given circumstances.
I am heartened by all of these things even as I am nervous about what the future holds for us. I am heartened even as I know there are millions of Americans who are not. I know I am so privileged because of my race, and the country I was born in, to feel heartened in any way. I know it is so much harder, if not impossible, for oppressed groups that feel afraid and targeted and are facing the kind of injustice that I have never experienced to be hopeful at all.
Today, I hope that you are taking care of yourself and your loved ones as best as you possibly can. I hope you try to turn your faces towards the light and let it carry you forward, because we have such a long road ahead.
Lots of light & love,
PS. PLEASE – if you have light of your own to share, write to me and send it my way. All shreds of hope, love and joy are welcome here. I’ll keep updating this post as I find more.
- 9 Real, Actionable Things We Can Do About Trump
- 20+ free resources to help you process the election results from Everyday Feminism
- Parker shared the things he’s grateful for today here
- Kamala Harris will be the first Indian American U.S. Senator and California’s first African American Senator
- What I learned about America on November 9th