Fight Harder

canstockphoto5811625At midnight, I woke up and checked the election results and began to cry. My first thought was about the conversation I’d have to have with my daughter in the morning. She stood by me as I proudly filled in the circles on my ballot. Like many of my friends and family, we were optimistic that the world might look different in the morning.

It does look different this morning. It looks like misogyny and racism and anti-intellectualism are now the colors that this country flies. How could it not look like that? Somebody’s drunk uncle just got elected president.

I got caught up in the news cycles, the Tweets, the demoralizing nature of these campaigns. My heart sank when I realized that what I had believed about my country was not true – that we were kinder, braver and smarter than we are.

It’s a wake up call. For me, as a middle class, white suburban woman, it means that I can no longer be comfortable, residing in my pseudo-intellectual pursuits.

Liberals are often accused of being smug or elitist. I am my own American dream, growing up poor, serving my country, going to college, working my way through a sundry mediocre jobs. I’m not wealthy or entitled or pious or academic. But I’ve been comfortable and am surrounded by people who generally share my views. This election has created a shock wave in my world.

It means that I have to take whatever skills I have and put them to visible and uncomfortable use. I have always been moderate and will continue to be so. I do believe reason and compassion are better guiding lights than anger, but anger also serves a purpose – to light those fires and end silent passivity.

It means that as a veteran, I must argue vociferously against our war culture. It means as a parent, I must defend the right to a decent education for all children. As a woman, I must stand up and fight against those who believe women’s genitals are the politicians’ to govern.

As a human, I must stand side-by-side with my brothers and sisters of color for their right to pursue happiness without being incarcerated unjustly and shot down in the streets with prejudice.

These are things that I should have been doing all along. I didn’t ever believe that at its heart, America would choose a man who has shown no integrity, no empathy and no common sense to lead our nation. As his second, we’ve chosen a theocrat who would, given the chance, impose his version of religious morality upon the country.

We will not be governed well or wisely. We will choke on media narratives and the every day reporting of conservative chicanery. We will watch as America sinks into a recession, while protections for our environment are gutted. We will sigh with every Tweet, every insult, every gauche display of inequity. But it is not the end of the world, just the start of four very long, very difficult years.

canstockphoto0484969I am angry, disappointed and embarrassed for our country, but the facade has been stripped away. We know who we are. There’s something amazing that happens when the tyranny of a slim majority gets put on display. The rest of us get stronger, because we have to fight harder.

What will I tell my daughter in the morning? I will tell her that it’s time to dig in and fight harder. Fight for our integrity as humans on this planet. Fight for our right as women to exist on an equal playing field. That we must pursue intellectual and artistic lives with vigor. That we must stand up at every opportunity and fight for the downtrodden, the disenfranchised. That we must defend the environment and animals and protect the vulnerable.

This is the time when real American heroes can be born. I cannot allow myself to sink into despair. I cannot show my daughter that at the first sign of distress, my ideals and beliefs collapse under their own depressive weight. I will not lose my shit and wail and gnash my teeth.

This is an opportunity to become more – more compassionate, more brave, more creative, and more loving.

For every racist who feels emboldened, we will speak loudly in defense of diversity.

For every misogynist who feels validated, we will raise a son or a daughter to be a decent, respectful, ethical human being.

canstockphoto1323495For every shrill cry about intellectualism, we will read and write more books, compose music, create art.

For every petty whine about political correctness, we will become more inclusive and more sensitive.

For every brazen public display of mob mentality, we will create more space for more voices.

That is the America I want for my daughter.

So take a break from the news, take a walk, read a favorite book, spend time with the people you love, recharge. And then roll up your sleeves, there’s work to be done.

71 Comments on “Fight Harder

  1. it is sad news as everyone in my country was championing for Hillary but now we in shock and hope America does not go to the graves but you shall continue to fight harder for the vices and eliminate them to make it a better state for the world

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am running out the door, but I just wanted to say how much your words and thoughts lifted me up this morning. I am still devastated, but have a glimmer of something beyond it all thanks to you. I posted a link on my Facebook page and hope that is okay.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Feel free to share, Elizabeth. I wrote this little pep talk for myself, so that I could look my daughter in the face in a few hours and tell her everything will be okay. It will be, but not if we sit on our hands. Still, a breather is in order at this point – I’m wrung out!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brava, Michelle. We in Japan have been watching -9.11 here – all day, and now sink in stunned silence and sadness. I think there is value to be had in granting ourselves a ‘mourning off’, but then, like you say, get up and do good and be good and make good. I’m rooting for this spirit to enliven us all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We definitely need some time to recover, but I also needed to find a light going forward. It’s been a long, sleepless night – literally and metaphorically. All we can do is lead by example and trust that compassion is the better path.
      It’s almost 4am here – what sounds zen may be a high level of sleep deprivation!

      Like

  4. You are so right! Back in June I woke up to a referendum result here in the U.K with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I watched a world I wanted to be part of slipping away from me. I thought we were moving forwards; that evolution pushed us towards a more civilised state. But it seems like we’re going backwards.

    Now, watching what is happening in your country it feels like an even scarier version of what happened here. That the world has gone mad ; the lunatics are taking over the asylum.

    Your words offer a ray of hope. You remind me that having opinions isn’t enough. I have to act on them. Reach out to others who feel the same. Form links, build bridges, communicate. It’s hard to see the way ahead but I mustn’t let that stop me from trying.

    Thank you so much for reminding me that there are others who feel the same as I do. In that lies my hope for the future. Now I’m going to try and stay alert, connected and willing to act.

    Good for you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I try to take the long view. What we are seeing around the world is the push back against the tremendous social and technological gains made over a relatively short span of time. Evolution is slow and with humans, it can get quite ugly.
      The key is, I think, to prevent any of this demagoguery from doing irrevocable and violent damage. The only way we can do that is to serve as a counterbalance, voices of reason and not to let our fears be what guides our choices. That’s the challenge ahead. Silence no longer seems like an option.
      Best wishes to you and yours as you navigate the next couple of years!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Sending you a hug from the UK. I am so with you. I love your blog, it is comforting to know you are out there, I would vote for you! 😉

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  6. “This is a time when real American heroes can be born.” You are SO right. Great post, great rallying cry. This election IS a wake up call — and not just for Americans either. We all have an opportunity now to do more, be better.

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  7. Michelle, your message was a bright spot on the most dismal morning I can ever remember. I share your shock and shame, and am overwhelmed by disappointment and disbelief (I keep hoping I’ll wake up and find it was just a bad dream, a very bad dream). I have learned that my country is still steeped in prejudice and that equality is just a word that the majority doesn’t treasure as I do. You are right that this is a wake-up call and a call to action for those of us who believe in and want to protect the deepest values of the true America. Count me in. No more silence.

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    • And this is how we do it, Donna. We keep talking, we live our example, we engage in our community and with our government. And mostly, we keep believing in our better selves, our better country and a better future that includes everyone.

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  8. Thank you for writing so powerfully; the best we can hope for on this awful morning is a reminder that we are not alone. I am deeply ashamed to be an American today — mortified, really. And heartbroken for Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose femaleness robbed her of the chance she so richly deserved to lead our country. We will all suffer for that.
    .

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    • I’ve alternated between dread and anger and a weird kind of optimism. All I can say is that for every person who has said we no longer need feminism, witness exhibit A.
      Right now, it’s time to take a deep breath, let the dust settle and then spend the next four years writing letters to politicians, editorials to every publication, buckling down financially (because we’ll need to) and showing up with a vengeance at the midterms.
      We are not alone.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a great piece of writing – intelligent and heartfelt. As a Brit still reeling from the national shame of Brexit, I feel for you. Here’s to a dose of positive anger.

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  10. Yep, We all must get with it and try to be much better people and to do good and show good. I fear we are in for a rough road. But I pray that I will be proven wrong and that the man will, as president, not act and speak as he did when campaigning. My hope is that he will have excellent advisors and that he can muddle through or at the very least carry on as a dignified president.

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    • While I prefer not to dwell on the doom and gloom of the situation, I have little hope that this human will surround himself with any better people than he did during the campaign. We can hope, but best to rely on ourselves to do the work towards change and not someone who thinks climate change was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I see a lot of proverbial tree hugging and bra burning in my future.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I feel your pain. No one here can quite believe it either but your words are not only comforting for all who wonder at the how and why, they also mirror the feeling and focus that go on here since we, in Scotland, failed to achieve independence. Then, more recently, what feels like the assault of Brexit. Rather than crush the spirit, it galvanises. Fear cannot live in the presence of truth. Your daughter, like our sons and daughters here, will not abandon the values and truths they learn from example and experience. They will, like you, grow stronger, fight harder. It is what we all must do in the face of adversity or oppression.
    Thank you for your words and your spirit. Rest, regroup, go on. Fight harder.x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes – galvanizes is exactly the word that I needed to use. Truth has seemed like a movable junk food feast this year. Integrity is my watch word – personal and political and I see a strong core of ethics with my daughter. These are the things that I hold dear.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

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  12. The one positive note is that she won the Popular Vote, which means there are a lot of people out there ready and willing to stand up and let their voices be heard. This is a spirited post, and I agree with everything you are saying. Onward and Upward!

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  13. This is inspiring. I, too, woke up in shock that Trump was voted president. I went to bed feeling fairly confident that Clinton would be our next president. To be honest, I wish we knew more about our third party options. I didn’t know any were still out there until a couple of days ago. But, as Americans, we are good at getting up and dusting off our pants and getting ourselves together. Maybe this will be a wake up call for us. We shall keep fighting.

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    • I missed this comment first time around. I knew enough about third party options, but the possibility of a Trump presidency loomed large in my decision. I wasn’t particularly happy with the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein (can’t have a president who doesn’t uphold the law and resorts to petty vandalism) and I’m not really a Libertarian, so Johnson was out (plus he often seemed like he was stoned). So I went with Clinton and I don’t regret it.
      But here we are and as you say, it’s time to get up, dust ourselves off and get on with things.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Fired Up, Part 1: Changing Where, When and How I Get Information | The Green Study

  15. “I am angry, disappointed and embarrassed for our country, but the facade has been stripped away. We know who we are.”

    This didn’t happen because racist mean people rose up and defied the kind people. I hope that people don’t have that kind of takeaway from this. My hope is that those who have been shocked (me included) will be able to self reflect… that we can understand that not just our side has been hurting, but that we’ve all been hurting each other. Just as minorities aren’t the villains, neither are white people. I hope we can all come together in a better way in the future. I am uncertain about the future and I don’t know what to expect from our newest president, but I certainly hope that he will prove our worries wrong. I hope that everyone can agree that they want him to do good things for our country, because we are all Americans and that is something that unites us with our hope for the future.

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    • I don’t know – I’m feeling fairly villainous these days. There are a lot of takeaways here, but it will take time to clearly see what they are. What this does mean is that half the voters were willing to overlook misogyny, racism and petty vengeance in the hopes of a better life. And the other half were willing to overlook determinism, deep pockets and bad judgment in the hopes of a better life. We all have to own the package we voted for.

      That being said, we can hashtag the heck out of #notallpeople whenever we talk about this election, it still won’t change the consequences we’ll have to live with and those are worrying. Plus, there is simply a huge ick factor about this guy that I am never going to forget. You just can’t unhear a future president saying the stuff he’s said in the past year.

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      • Why are you feeling villainous?

        I am sick of hearing “ists, obias, and isms” thrown around so often for nearly everything these days. These days, I think the goalposts have been moved to such an extent that it doesn’t take nearly as much to be classified as a punitive, life-wrecking buzzword. I feel that perhaps these words should be looked at with just as much scorn as racial slurs and epithets.

        In the wise words of Morgan Freeman… “I’m not African-American….. I’m American… Black history is American history” and when asked how to stop racism “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”

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  16. Thank you for inspiring us to move through our grief and get to work. I’ll admit that what unnerves me, in particular, is that his voters were an angry mob. They still want blood. They still talk about “lock her up.” This election may have really emboldened them….I also know that President Obama could never, not in a million years, have reached the highest office had he behaved as mean-spiritedly as this clown. And, with that bit of name-calling, I’ll go back high and let the Trumpers keep the low.

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    • It is hard to stick to the high road, but I always return to the question “Is what I’m doing or saying helpful?” Sometimes going low relieves stress – we just can’t stay there. I think it’s pretty appalling the way some people are being sore winners, beyond the criminal acts they are committing with glee. It will settle down and then we’ll be back to fighting the same old fights. Take care!

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  17. “This is an opportunity to become more – more compassionate, more brave, more creative, and more loving.” Yes, yes, yes, Michelle! Thanks.

    Like

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