Despair and Hope
4 min read
Like many others, I'm processing the debacle of Nov 8 while wondering what went wrong. This post is my attempt to make sense of it all and try to move forward productively.
First of all, I know that I am going to get some of this wrong. My view isn't complete, or entirely accurate, but we all need to process this and I hope that by processing this in public, I will help someone else and we can iterate towards hope and peace.
Also, as a Canadian man of northern European descent, I am not currently in the line of fire. I don't feel the target that many of my friends do...yet. But there are a great many people who ARE being targeted right now, and that demands a response. Not because it MIGHT happen to me, but because it IS happening to them.
It seems, from here at least, that the responses from those who voted for Hillary tend to fall in between two poles: despair and hope. Obviously, a great many are experiencing despair. These are the folks we see marching through American cities and campuses protesting, they are likely equal parts angry and terrified, or maybe all of one or the other depending on the day. Or maybe they are too terrified to leave their home. It is likely that these people do carry a target as a member of one of the many groups that Donald has attacked, marginalized, and betrayed...so far. The number of those groups will most certainly grow as Donald's cons come to light (like the fact that he seems poised to fill his own swamp with the types of 'establishment' players he led his followers to believe he would root out).
We need these people to be angry.
I won't condone violence or the destruction of property, but we need these people to be visibly and obnoxiously angry. Their anger is visceral and raw and it needs to be expended or it will become toxic...and then, too many will forget.
We can't forget.
This looks too much like the beginnings of a dictatorship. We can't forget.
I was in Poland last March and had the opportunity to tour Auschwitz and Bierkenau.
We. Cannot. Forget.
Hitler gained power because ordinary people decided that racism, hatred, fear of 'the other', and other forms of bigotry weren't so bad because ordinary people benefitted from the entrenchment of these evils. It was easier to turn their back on their Jewish, black, gypsy, gay, disabled neighbour than it was to confront the hate of others. And then, it was easier to kill their Jewish, black, gypsy, gay, disabled neighbour than to confront their own hate.
And yet, there is another response, one rooted in hope, and we all need hope.
8 years ago, 'Hope' was the rallying cry as Obama was first elected, and there was great hope that Hillary would overcome in 2016, but she didn't. It is unlikely that anyone wanted Hillary to win more than Hillary (well, maybe Bill). But her response to this devastating loss was one of hope. 'He deserves the opportunity to lead', she said, and I don't disagree, in principle. He won the electoral college, and any Vulcan might be able to say, without feeling, he won and derserves to lead. He is still an ass, but he was elected to lead.
That both Hillary and Barack have been gracious in this is testament to their commitment to the Republic and the peacful transition of power. They can't despair.
It would seem that there are a large number of people who had lost hope leading up to Nov 8, and many of those voted for Donald. Now, there are many more who have lost hope in the looming darkness because ordinary people are empowering and encouraging and gleefully participating in this orgy of hate, exclusion, and bigotry. There is no positive end if we give in to despair.
Those who can still see hope must light the way for those currently in despair.
We need the anger of the desparate. We need you to not let us forget. We need you to hold up a mirror to evil in order to protect the innocent and marginalized. We need you to be loud and obnoxious and inconvenient to remind the powerful that we are watching.
We need the reassurance of the hopeful. We need you to be as shrewd as vipers and as innocent as doves. We need you to build bridges so that we may all find common ground.
We cannot forget and we cannot lose hope.