I haven’t written about the recent US election because I haven’t known what to say. People are scared to verbalize what they believe for fear of being criticized--in both directions. You post anything too far to the left and you are a communist, a complainer, an out-of-touch idealist, a millennial too lost within your own self-righteousness that you are failing to see that we have a political process that “must be respected.” You post anything hopeful, you are normalizing the Trump phenomena. You are automatically a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, a sexist.
I know because I’ve experienced both sides of the coin. I reached out to friends following the Trump win with the hopes of starting a discourse--we are more the same than different, you are people I know, and love, and respect, please let me understand you--and they were fearful to voice their opinions, probably for fear of being shamed. I know this because despite my adamant support of human rights and climate change regulation, when I found a video that highlighted some of Trump’s less hateful speech (so much of the news we read is searching for illicit soundbites, and I was looking for something hopeful to hold on to) and shared it on my newsfeed, I was contacted by one of my closest friends suggesting that I was distributing propaganda (1).
So I’ve stayed out of it. Until today. Because today, Fidel Castro is dead, and I have something to say about it.
On election night, My brother posted the following non-partisan thoughts, and while some people championed his attempts towards unity, many shut him down, reacted angrily, likely threatened to delete him as a friend over his political views thus enforcing these echo chambers that we are getting ourselves trapped in, which have contributed to this chasm of difference amongst us all in the first place. We should never have been in this situation to begin with, and maybe if we’d started listening to each other earlier--actually tried to compromise--then we wouldn’t be stuck with this nightmare at all.
Like anything in life, there is a pendulum. After 8 years of Obama, moving to Trump as president takes us to the other side of that pendulum. Despite what your beliefs are, this is the reality. I do not live in fear of this result - I did not endorse either candidate - but at this point in time, this is where we stand.
People are going to either celebrate or mourn, cheer or complain, but regardless the sun will rise tomorrow morning and we will still be America.
I have pride for my country; I was proud to be an American under Obama and I will continue to be proud under Trump.
If you are worried, upset, or angry, that is still putting negativity into the world. Be the change you want to see in the world - spread positivity anyway you can. We don't know what the future holds, all we can do is hope for the best and continue to spread positivity anyway we can.
While I disagree with my brother that being angry or upset is automatically pumping negativity into the world (particularly if we can harness that negativity into productivity, and because some things definitely require scrutiny), I do think that there is something to be said for strapping on our work boots and getting our hands dirty, instead of fighting a battle against results that we are likely to lose.
And so I’ve hesitated to write about this election. I’ve fought with my parents, and I’ve fought with friends, whose opinions are all over the range of red and blue, because everyone is fighting and no one is listening.
So I called my aunt. I’ve always seen my aunt as a pillar of balance. I can call her to talk things through, to bounce ideas off of her, to help me fill in gaps of understanding, especially when it comes to interactions with my equally wonderful, loving, supportive parents who I sometimes fail to see eye to eye with.
And as I cried over Facetime with her about my fears for a Trump presidency, she told me gently that she had witnessed all too often what the world could be like when we tried to take on something so much bigger than ourselves (2). That as a girl, she watched my grandfather, who’d been a freedom fighter in Cuba before he’d had to flee, who’d led groups of a dozen men to try and fight back against the government, rage and storm every time the news came on the television. My mother always said that communism was a dirty word in their home, and I got an even more complete visual as my aunt added that he’d been known to punch the radio when Castro got on the news (3).
As I was growing up, I saw this in milder forms, in the way age seems to soften our convictions over the things we can’t control. My grandfather used to comment that the assigned readings for my Spanish classes were always written by hijo de puta communistas--he disapproved of my reading anything by Gabriel García Márquez, and God forbid an English teacher would assign a Hemingway. But they had become mere asides amidst all of the other ways he spent his time--he would laugh, and tell stories, and teach me how to make Cuban food. He had lived a good life, had struggled to provide a better, less conflicted upbringing for his children and grandchildren. He was a good, honest, hard-working man with a past that loomed over him in ways that were only occasionally referenced out-loud by the time I was old enough to understand.