“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
~ Anne Frank
I was not alone last night as I sat upright in my bed, trying to calm shivers of fear as I checked the election results again on my partner’s phone.
When the news came, the shivers stopped, and the reality began to set in.
Many of us were shocked to see the results. This feeling is beyond the simple dejection at rooting for the losing team. Underlying it is an essential question, one that we are all asking out loud or in our hearts, “Did hatred win?”
Donald Trump’s campaign was founded on the rhetoric of hatred and fear. I grieve today for all the people whose safety will be threatened in the coming years, whose sense of belonging and self-worth will be challenged, and who will lose their rights and systems of support. Will we go to war or see massive police violence? Will my friends and coworkers be deported, jailed, or killed for their religion or their race? Will my partner lose her rights?
This morning I was in grief and disappointment. But there was something else, too. I felt strangely powerful.
It was as if this election broke a barrier within me, a resistance to seeing that our destiny is truly in our hands. That our lives, our country, are our responsibility. And this responsibility goes far beyond picking the right president. It means living our values, bringing them into the world through the toil of our hands and hearts. That responsibility means being the change we wish to see.
Amidst the streams of sad and angry Facebook posts in my feed this morning, I saw a surprising number of people who refused to give up on kindness, on compassion, on community.
I saw people calling out for us to come together and build our own lives. To protect those who are newly threatened: women; religious, gender, and racial minorities; immigrants; Native Americans; the environment. They called for us to use the power in our hearts to create a culture of compassion that will withstand even the most hateful use of power.
Today feels apocalyptical. And yet, the light of hope burns the brightest in the darkest night, and our communal web of support becomes the strongest when faced with great tragedy and hardship. Our compassion, and our resolve to do what’s right, becomes the strongest.
I am reminded today of those brave souls in Germany during the 30s and 40s who risked their lives to hide Jewish people because they would rather die than be complicit in evil. In America, too, thousands of courageous men and women helped slaves find freedom through the Underground Railroad because their compassion overwhelmed their fear. So too for persecuted artists in communist China, for members of the civil rights movement, for Ghandi.
No law or power structure can sever us from our humanity or our basic goodness. Only we can do that, or choose not to. If nothing else, this is the choice we all have.
Our work is needed, now. Do not fall prey to the self-immolation of blame or the complacency of depression. Grieve, yes. Open your heart to this pain. Let it cut deep, and from that depth bring out the power of your soul. Your work is needed. Work for what is good in this world, using what is good in yourself. If our trust in our government is destroyed, let us find that trust in one another.
If we cannot rely on our government for support, let us support one another.
No, hatred cannot win if we do not allow it into our own hearts. Not if we choose to act with the courage of love, if we choose to care for and respect one another. We build this world every day.
So, with whatever resources you have, be it your privilege, your money, your hands, your womb, your heart, your strength, your art, your voice—live every day what matters.
Let your soul speak.
Be what our world needs.
Author: Nicholas Tippins
Image: goya.rose / Instagram
Editor: Sara Kärpänen