It happened, though, and I spent the following years reading, writing, thinking, questioning, and inquiring as I set out to find answers for why and how it happened. Perhaps the search led me to choose love and hope and maybe it is why I instantly began working with relocated refugee populations who arrived to the U.S. - a great addition to the young people attending the urban community where I lived and taught.
Last night at 1 a.m., however, I found myself amazed once more.
For months, I've trailed a movement that has mesmerized, yet haunted me, and found myself reading, writing, thinking, questioning and inquiring once again. Economically and, perhaps, even politically, I anticipated the outcome we woke up to this morning. Socially, emotionally, and spiritually, however, the results are numbing and frightening. Until this morning I could say, "I've never not voted for the person who was elected president." Until today, I was 100% with my voting record, and although I didn't start out as a fan of who I casted a vote for this year, a campaign of fear, vulgarity, viciousness, lying, and outright ridiculousness pushed me toward the direction I didn't necessarily want to go. As the election went forth, I started to see amazing leadership and perseverance in one candidate over the other. I couldn't imagine being on the receiving end of the vitriol she had to endure. Each and every day, my respect for her grew stronger. I didn't necessarily agree with what she stood for, as much as I totally could not comprehend anything the other candidate espoused.
Ah, but vitriol is who we are. We are love and we are hate. It's in our DNA and it's up to us to react. The fear option throws negativity into our hearts and spite in our speech. Fear helps us to flex muscles. The opposite is hope, and as I've written over and over again - I love / to believe/ in hope.
I woke up this morning with an image of the Statue of Liberty holding her face in her hands. Her shoulders were hunched and she appeared downtrodden and worried. A thick fog hovered over her and darkness draped the NYC skyline that stood in front of her - the same skyline attacked September 11th. To me, American democracy means there's power in the people and that votes of a majority make a choice for the direction of all. I don't think there's a person in the United States this election season who wasn't saying, "Something needs to change. The two America's are getting out of control." And a decision was cast by almost 50% of voters to win the electoral votes necessary to create a new history in the White House. Although the message to get people to vote for this accomplishment, I believe, was the antithesis of what a multicultural society should be destined to become, it was the will of the people - half of American society - to uproot what any of us have known as normal: government, media, economics, and ethics. New York Times labeled it a New World Order - let's hope it isn't as apocalyptic as the rhetoric that won him the votes.
I woke up this morning with another image, as well. The darkness was still ubiquitous around the Statue of Liberty, but then a single light began to shine from the distance. Soon, another light appeared. Then a few more. The lights began to come from all over, all of them out of the darkness, and they headed towards Lady Liberty in order to spell the word, "Hope," as the lanterns they carried were placed at her feet.
Hope is all that Pandora left us, and the only way to battle evil is through arming ourselves with hope.
I ran out of coffee this morning, a sign that I'll likely be grumpy and frantic all day. Yet, I had tea to tie me over as I woke up thinking about 9/11/11 and 11/9/16 and the reminder that hate is real and often entwined with fear, a lack of global knowledge, and ignorance.
For me, however, I will continue to choose love. I will set out to help others. Life is too short and I can't live with hate and anger in my heart. Instead, I will live by my actions and continue to embrace the communities that have made me the man that I am (a majority named as communities needing to be destroyed by the man our nation elected as President). So, today I promise to stay committed to adding an 'o' to God and to look for 'good' in the world. It may be harder to find now, but I still believe it exists. Although I self-describe as an optimist and a believer in the good of humanity, it is important to be reminded that human beings are human beings - and this comes with canines, weapons, and spite (we can be vile creatures). I, for one, will try to be like Walt Whitman - singing America and handing out butterscotch candies to those suffering and in the most need.
This morning, I realize it's time to do more good and to be even better. I can only hope that everyone else will set out to do the same.
Actions speak louder than words. The America that has been a part of my life for 44 years has always been great, and I intend to surround myself with Americans who dedicate themselves to making this world a better place. Period.