I can now say I know what having my heart completely broken feels like. As 47% of American voters just broke mine.
After a day of travel I could not stay awake to hear the election results so I went to sleep last night praying for the best. When I awoke to the news this morning I wished I had remained sleeping. Or perhaps I was still asleep and this would be revealed to be a nightmare.
Since then I have cried, felt paralyzed with fear, fruitlessly worried, felt rage well up and various other emotions of fear and loathing. But throughout that roller-coaster of emotions a tiny spark of hope found a way to be born and even grow. Until it won out over all the rest. As that is what hope does. It wins.
This is far from the end. The future is more uncertain and unknown than what we humans would like to believe. This may be a dark day but it is not the final day. Light can and will shine again even though the darkness will return as well. But those dark days can be outnumbered if we work together to bring back the light and make this just a bump in the road.
While some may look to 2020 to do so, I will argue that 2018 is just as important. The 2018 elections for the House and Congress can help put the brakes on things at least if the Democrats can take control of them. It may not stop all the damage but it can at least minimize it for two years. Then in 2020 the focus can shift to stopping a re-election.
I can only hope the Democrats can find a stronger candidate. Though depending on how the future unfolds it may not be that hard.
And even before all of that there is plenty that can be done. As much as others will wish otherwise we cannot be silenced. We can still point out injustice when it occurs and stand up for it. We can still love and accept each other despite differences in gender, race, religious views, backgrounds and even political beliefs. We can protest unjust laws and in the words of Senator John Lewis make "good trouble."
Of course it will not be easy. Doing the right thing is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Especially when the results are not immediate. But stubbornness can be a virtue at times, and history is made by the persistent.
Personally I am usually one to avoid conflict. My anxiety disorder has helped give me plenty of practice with that. But I fear my silence on expressing my personal beliefs is doing more harm than good. So I am vowing to speak up more and to stand openly on my beliefs. I no longer want to be seen as complacent in the face of injustice and want to give what strength I have to the other voices fighting against it.
I am proudly a feminist that wants to see equality for all genders. I have suffered with anxiety and at times depression that came with suicidal thoughts. Since I was able to reach out and get the help I needed to deal with those I want to support others suffering from mental health issues, to let them know there is help. As a veteran of the U.S. Army I want to help my fellow vets by helping the general public know that they are actual people that gain more for being seen as such and not hoisted onto nationalistic pedestals. And I want to be a better ally to minorities by being more supportive of the causes they are fighting for. As it is my firm belief that everyone deserves the right to dignity and respect.
I love this country that I call home. As far from perfect it is I still believe in it. While this election reminded us of how ugly it can get it did not erase how great it can be. We were able to catch glimpses of that with President Obama and this set back does not have to derail it all. Not as long as there are people willing to stand up and do the right thing.
As the saying goes "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." And since I am still breathing, stronger is what I am going to be.