“Years of love have been forgot, in the hatred of a minute.” ~ Edgar Allen Poe
I gave up cable over four years ago due to a lifestyle shift and in an effort to minimize the amount of information I was consuming.
Social media and new apps keep me up to speed on events, and these days, the upcoming presidential race is the topic that can’t seem to be avoided. Most especially, our beloved Mr. Donald Trump who has been spewing a hate-filled, divisive rhetoric against anyone of a different race, religion, gender, color, nationality or immigration status.
I am a check on every category in this list.
I moved to the United States to attend graduate school about 13 years ago, fell in love (at first sight) with New York City and have been here ever since.
The only reason I made it to the states is because of my father’s vision.
My father hails from extremely humble beginnings in a small Indian village. From the stories I’ve heard, it isn’t an exaggeration to say that he was raised in poverty. His salvation came in the form of education and for as long as I can recall, his mantra to both my brother and me has been: “All I have to give you is the foundation of a good education.”
He held in esteem the quality of education of an American university and one of his life goals was to have my brother study here. I can vividly recall, even now, the joy on my dad’s face when my brother was accepted into Purdue University. And again years down the line, when he extended the same opportunity to me and I was accepted into the communications program at Newhouse, Syracuse.
Like all parents, he worked so his kids could get a shot at a life with opportunities he could only dream of. When I was unsure about moving here versus going back to Europe, he said with confident assurance and an Indian accent, “Neelam, America is the greatest country in the world. The people are good. It’s progressive, tolerant, safe and you will really like it there.”
He then went on to emphatically talk about his favorite American presidents, what they gave to the world and recite recent news he’d seen about all the wonderful things happening here.
I have to point out that my father said this without having set foot here or knowing one American person. He wasn’t too far off though—from my teachers and co-workers to all my friends, everyone was inviting and pretty awesome.
Unlike my brother, I have only experienced a United States post 9/11 and being here amidst election season seems to be revealing scars from a time I am unfamiliar with, especially when it comes to Mr. Trump’s fustian dramatics around Islamaphobia. I find the microphone morphing into a personal spittoon that’s being forced to posture his jumbled and quite frankly, distasteful thoughts every time he opens his mouth.
I am all for anyone wanting to feel safe on their own soil and will never discount anyone’s anxiety or concerns about it. But I am sincerely bewildered. I’d love to know the series of life-changing events that have attributed to Trump’s deluded, xenophobic, radical, myopic and destructive viewpoint.
What has me in greater dismay and disbelief is the cheering that follows his passionately misguided discourses that seek separation, and promote the “us vs. them” mentality. He has supporters lapping up his every word. Sigh.
I shudder at the thought of his hate-speech not only promoting civil discord, but also giving carte blanche to a latent group of people on either side of this divide who will choose violence to combat a belief or ideology that is different from their own. He is fanning a dangerous mindset, which seems to be gradually catching fire on what I believed to be unpopular and outdated concepts. I am not smitten by his approach, but I am thankful a conversation has begun so we know beforehand the freedoms his presidency will make extinct, one at a time.
However grim his outlook, I sincerely believe that he is about to be shocked by humanity. A vast majority of people are peace-loving, kind, helpful and will choose not to identify with his caustic disposition bent on mindlessly callousing our inherent tenderness toward each other.
There is a part of me that also desperately wants to believe that there flows a relentless pain in the dim corners of his soul, inextricably entrenched in the fabric of his being. I believe healing through compassion is possible for everyone—even Mr. Trump.
As many of you know, his latest onslaught targets Muslims. I am not one, but I can feel the burden of his words funneling a chilling echo inside every crevice of my bones, like it were being yelled at me. Much like Mr. Trump, we are all at liberty to apply poor meaning to wounds inflicted by society and debilitating human exchange. I carry my share as well, but I work on expunging these besmirched splotches by applying a balm of kind self-talk and compassion. This way, it seeps into my core and real healing is given a fair shot.
While I am here, I want to walk my path gently. And besides, I much rather prefer basking in the pulsating energy of love that resides in every soul, including his.
If I could send him a personal plea, it would be this:
“I hope you choose not to rewind this tape you’ve been playing, Mr. Trump. I hope you retract before there is a far-reaching human cost to your toxic spillage. We have ample recordings of history for you to witness secondhand (and hopefully feel, firsthand) all the pointless destruction that can follow hateful rhetoric toward a people. I implore you to pause and let it all rest wherever it is. Better still: hit eject on this rusty, bitter and despicable propaganda based on fear. It won’t be missed, promise.”
I believe my father’s sentiments ring true even today and despite the absurdity that is Mr. Trump, I do believe this is a great country. Its people will rise in challenging situations like they have done in the past to nurture a tolerant, united, compassionate outlook toward people of different faiths, religions, races or immigration status. They will uphold the foundation and values steeped in freedom and diversity that make America, well, America.
For my friends, both known and unknown, who are blatantly accosted or put into harm’s way by Mr. Trump’s words or will be as a result of them, I offer you my apologies.
I also share with you the same hope I carry in my heart: you are being held by many of us, some vocal and some silent.
Please stay in faith, united with us and keep peace highest.
We love you. We see you. We can feel you. We are trying.
Author: Neelam Tewar
Editor: Nicole Cameron