Following the election I expressed my feelings about the outcome in an email with my sister. Today, with hundreds of thousands of people protesting around the world and 25-30 foot waves slamming the beach near my home they feel appropriate to post.
I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start in the ocean. To me the last week has felt like being in the ocean amongst big waves. I’m never fully comfortable in these situations, I’m always worried a big set will suddenly appear on the horizon and catch me inside. The current, which can be futile to paddle against, pulls in one direction or another making it impossible to be in the right place. My breath is always shallow—each breath is not enough, I have very little control of the situation.
I’ve tried to get my head around what this election means and I can’t. I’m upset so many people would vote for a man who so obviously lacks the character and the qualities that for centuries Americans valued in a leader. I’m angry that Republicans (both voters and elected politicians) would place party loyalty and policy agendas ahead of the moral values they readily admit are lacking. I’m saddened the country where I was born, raised and am raising my children is so very divided with seemingly little hope of finding common ground. And I’m scared this is an indicator our country is willing to embrace racism, totalitarianism and misogyny resulting in devastating consequences.
There are signs of light in this darkness. It’s comforting to know the majority of people did not vote for this. I’m heartened by the thousands of people protesting in the streets, we will need these kinds of public displays of disapproval. And I hold hope our institutions (local and state governments, judges, federal agencies) and the people in general will provide the necessary checks and balances to survive the assault on civil liberties, the social safety net and the environment, we will experience in the years to come.
I prefer to surf small and medium sized waves. It’s fun, I relax and can simply enjoy the predictable rhythm of the ocean. But, each year I push myself into bigger and bigger surf. Occasionally, I feel comfortable in these waves of consequence but more often than not my mind is telling me to catch the next wave into the safety of the beach. For at least the next four years I (and millions of others) will struggle with this decision. Can we calm our mind, take deep breaths and summon the courage to speak truth to power? Or, for those with the option, do we simply ride the next one in? I hope we all keep paddling, scratching over the next set and coming back up for air when we’re pushed down.