Like everybody else, I have some thoughts about last week's election. And like everybody else, I'm still sorting them out. Everybody has a different take on this, and it seems like no matter who you are, what you say, or what you do, there's somebody telling you you're reacting in the wrong way, or blaming the wrong people for the outcome, or taking the wrong kind of action in response. I get it, I think. Maybe I don't. But we all grieve in different ways, and we all celebrate in different ways (although seeing people celebrate this election makes me sick to my stomach).
This post is mostly for myself. Not to make myself feel better, but to sort out some of the chaos in my head. I have to rip off this Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandage if I'm going to move beyond wallowing and into action. So, you know. At the moment, I don't have much to say that hasn't been said already. And I don't blame you if you're sick and tired of reading things like this. I know I am, but I keep reading them anyway.
I was feeling very fiery last night, but not so much today. That's been the whole week for me. Ready to rip Trump and his base a new hole one minute, feeling cold and powerless the next. It's exhausting, keeping up with every new atrocity. Each bigoted, anti-intellectual crony he taps for his cabinet. Each new hate crime committed in his name. Each assault. Each act of vandalism. Each instance of schoolchildren parroting hate speech at their fellow students. It's exhausting for me, and I'm in a position of privilege. I can literally only imagine what this week has been like for women, minorities, and anybody else Trump has verbally assaulted. These are things which fill me with a mixture of outrage, despondency, and guilt. Guilt because I am a white male in a heterosexual marriage, so I am among the safest of our society. But we all will be affected by a Trump presidency. We have been already. None of us live in a vacuum, whether we realize it or not. It's something I wish I could say to each patron who comes into the library and tries to tell me how happy they are that Trump won, and all I can do is tell them that I have to remain neutral, which is both a comforting escape from what would be a horrible conversation and a tacit endorsement of their demagogue's victory. They themselves might be lovely people. They themselves may not be vile, xenophobic bigots, but they voted for one, and that's not really better, it's just a different kind of bad.
But a feeling of powerlessness does not weaken my resolve, it strengthens it. Here's what I'm going to do, and it's only a start:
Keep starting sentences with conjunctions. I only do it when I think it's appropriate, but I like it and I don't care, and I also like run-on sentences.
Wear a safety pin. Cynics are calling it 'slacktivism,' but I disagree. Sure, if all you're doing is slapping a safety pin on your shirt, patting yourself on the back and calling it a day, you're not accomplishing much. If that's what you're doing, well, dang. Don't. Symbols are important. If you're going to wear a symbol, you should at least attempt to embody the things it stands for. I will not be an idle witness to harassment or assault. I will do all I can to be an effective ally, and I will always be learning how to do that better, because there is always more to learn and more that can be done.
Vote. Shit. I always vote, and I'm gonna keep voting, especially in midterm elections. It is the least we can do. I am also interested in any and every way we can fight voter suppression and disenfranchisement.
And, as they say in the infomercials, much, much more. This is only a start. A drop in the bucket. We are stronger together. We are all human. And we can all make a difference. And if I repeat that enough times, I might really start to believe it.