On my way home from work yesterday I stopped at the corporate coffee shop to get a pumpkin spice-flavored caffe latte. Then I listened to NPR news on the drive home. Yesterday was election day, the day that we were supposed to elect the first female President of the United States.
All evening I was glued to the radio. I had it going on my phone in my pocket while I walked around my house. I was looking nonstop at NPR's election map. At first I was a little disconcerted that Hillary wasn't ahead, but I've never watched an election this closely and only a couple of states had been called.
Somewhere around 8 o'clock I realized that things were not likely to turn around. So, I retired to my bedroom desk to meditate with ZenTangles. My cat, Anastasia, helped me remain calm and centered. She's pictured above coaching me on focus and breathing. I had a small tablet device streaming NPR by this time. It was hard. I couldn't stop looking at the map on my phone. I couldn't find peace.
I've seen many elections come and go. I've never cared as much as I did this time. For one thing, I like Hillary. I like a lot of what she stands for. Not necessarily economics, but then again that's why we need a strong Congress. But, more importantly, I'm afraid of this man who was running against her. I'm afraid of him and I'm afraid of the people who are supporting him. I'm afraid of him because of the hate rhetoric he's used through his campaign - keeping Muslims from coming into the United States (even if they are citizens returning from out of the country!), building a wall between the US and Mexico and deporting millions of Latin Americans. I'm afraid of his followers because they reacted so strongly to all of this. I don't even know if Trump meant half of it; he just knows what to say to get people riled up. (Not to mention his flagrant objectification of all females, which I can't help but believe is truly how he thinks.)
I finally decided to go to bed and check the score in the morning. I couldn't sleep, though. I kept waking up and I couldn't keep myself from checking the phone. Finally, when I woke up (again) around 2:45 I saw Hillary's face there with 238 electoral votes and Trump with 276 and the announcement that he had won. It was such a dark feeling. So many of my friends are immigrants. I am gay. So many of my friends are women. How can we go backwards like this? How?
I hope that I am wrong. I couldn't listen to his victory speech, but I heard that he pledged to bring America together. They said that he was not antagonistic at all. All I could think of all day long was his catchphrase, "Make America great again!" If history has taught me anything it's that Hitler made Germany great again for a huge disaffected population who were bearing the brunt of post WWI rebuilding of their country and repayment for damages caused. He really turned things around for them, and part of the tactic was to identify a common enemy among them - the Jews. Trump has already identified the enemies he's going to go after, Latin Americans and Muslims, not necessarily in that order. I hope that I am wrong, but another thing that history has taught me is that people don't change. If it happened once (the horrors of WWII) then it can happen again.
As Secretary Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, we have to keep up the fight even with Trump as President. (Even more so because of it.) We have a lot more work to do and we can't go backwards. Gays are allowed in the military and can marry. A woman has been the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. We can't let Americans attack Americans because of their color, race or religion; this cannot be okay.
I've made it through one day with this reality. I've avoided social media for the most part because of the hate and antagonism. This is what they mean when they say 'One day at a time', because I can't think about much more than that. It's too dark.
So, I'll bookend my little essay here with another image of my ZenTangle desk from last night. Quiet meditation and faith in God. And breathing.