I received a lot of e-mail yesterday regarding the election, from both sides of the fence. Largely, however, I was hearing from folks who had worked very hard for a change in the presidential administration. Most of these family members and friends had spent Wednesday, November 3rd, in tears, deep depression, and rage.
I want to take a moment to thank all of you for writing me to share what you were experiencing in the aftermath of the election. I had been worn out from the frustration and excitement of election day, and while you were looking for consolation, you gave me the opportunity — in crafting my replies to you — to sort through my own feelings and come out feeling (while still disappointed) more at peace and even hopeful, determined.
The simple conclusion I came to was this:
Even though this is not the world I had hoped to wake up to Wednesday morning, I am not powerless within it.
On a National Public Radio call-in show yesterday, I was hearing reactions — from those who supported John Kerry — that ranged from complete devastation to outrage and indignation. Many of us are trying to understand how such a large group of Americans would not only buy the lies and deception that have been fed to them for the past four years, but would actually ask for more of the same.
We need to keep in mind that many people voted with their fears in mind, rather than with hope.
I believe that Bush keeping the White House isn’t so much validation of his presidency as it is a signal to the country that we need to take our power back into our own hands as citizens. And that starts, quite simply, with you and me.
I am bitterly disappointed that eleven states, including Oregon — OREGON! — passed the gay marriage ban. This is the equivalent of a constitutional amendment endorsing and legalizing racism. I have good friends who, in the aftermath of this travesty, feel they no longer have a place in American society, that the entire country has told them that they aren’t acceptable human beings deserving of the same rights as “real people.” This angers me and breaks my heart.
One of these days, the “moral majority” — or whatever this group is called — will realize that they have created God in their own image. I believe the following from Anne Lamott pretty much sums it up:
You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out he hates all the same people you do.
— Anne Lamott
With positions on the Supreme Court up for grabs in the coming years, I fear that it could be a generation or two before there’s is any meaningful reversal on this.
But you never know. Californians passed a stem cell research measure by a large margin on Tuesday, and there are new Democratic governors in former Republican strongholds of New Hampshire and Montana.
There is a great opportunity for individual action and larger mobilization right now. Despite his proclamation that, “America has spoken,” Bush did not win by a landslide. This is still a deeply divided nation in need of some real healing, and we each have to be willing to stand up for our own very real “moral values,” instead of just quietly sitting by while someone else presumes to tell us what is important.
Sometimes we need deceptive, manipulative people to hang around in power for awhile, to get the rest of us to stand up and claim our own power, after finally having had enough. Sometimes we need help reaching rock-bottom before we begin to climb back out of the pit we’ve dug for ourselves. Sometimes we need to dig even deeper into the wounds in order to extricate the poison.
For whatever reason, we still need this guy to be sitting in the Oval Office. I do not hope the second term of this administration will be more sensitive and caring than the first, given that Bush wasn’t sensitive to such divisions the first time around. However, we don’t know what’s coming down the pipe for him, and we don’t know how even he might be changed by the events of the next four years.
I’m realizing that I personally might want to get more active behind my own principles moving forward, because no one else is going to do it for me. It’s time for each of us to stand up for ourselves. This is a call to action. This is your invitation to the 21st century’s Boston Tea Party.
Yes, it’s time to reclaim our power as citizens. I don’t have a guidebook handy on how to do that, but I know that it happens in all of the little moments, in the smallest choices we make, of whether we choose to give our power away or stand up and “speak truth to power.” It happens in the tiniest decisions we make in how we treat each other every day, how we treat ourselves, and whether or not we accept our stewardship of this planet. Because recylcling that one milk bottle instead of more conveniently throwing it away does make a difference. Letting that person move into the lane ahead of us in traffic instead of cutting him/her off does make a difference. Choosing to voice an unpopular opinion instead of remaining silent does make a difference, because we could be speaking for more people than just ourselves.
Hope is not a denial of reality. But it is also not some kind of spiritual elixir. It is not a placebo infused out of nowhere. Hope is a series of small actions that transform darkness into light. It is putting one foot in front of the other when we can find no reason to do so at all.
— Joan Chittister
And so on.
I’ll stop preaching now.