Tear Down That Wall: Lessons from the 2016 US Election

9 Nov

This morning, I have a lot of rage. I am grieving for the nation of which I thought I was a part, and angry at the nation of which I learned I am a citizen. I learned a lot of things yesterday, and I can only hope that some of them will give us a way forward, rather than a way to further divide ourselves.

I learned that slightly under half the country is willing to condone things I find unconscionable because of their own grievances. They are willing to permit–if not endorse–sexism, misogyny, sexual assault, rape culture, racism, white supremacy, anti-LGBTQ attitudes and laws, exclusionary politics, and fearmongering.

I find this morally and ethically reprehensible.

I do not object to the enterprise of finding common ground on most policy decisions. I am willing to discuss disagreements about second amendment rights, about health care, about taxation, about education. All these discussions are conducted by people interested in the greater well-being of the nation and its people.

I do object to backlash and fear predicated on the idea that someone who does not look like me might be a member of my community and have ideas and culture that differs from my own.

I am white. What (straight) white people condoned yesterday taught me that this country has not made much social progress in the last fifty years. That they want so badly to retain their privilege that they will vote for someone who ultimately has no stated policies other than bigotry and inflammatory rhetoric rather than open their doors and borders to people who are not like them.

I learned that, yesterday, just under half of America would like to move backwards, socially and politically.

But we can’t. This is not a flat plain or even a ladder. We are in the middle of a planet hurtling through space and we are powerless to stop its trajectory, particularly in matters such as climate change (which our president-elect denies is an actual thing) and global economics. We cannot make these things stop simply because we wish them to stop. We will move forward, whether we like it or not.

The question that faces is us whether or not we are willing to embrace that momentum or whether we are going to behave like overgrown toddlers unwilling to eat their broccoli or take their naps.

I am choosing, today, to accept my responsibility as an adult citizen of a democracy in which I have the right to free speech. I am exercising that right in order to say that I am not willing to move backward. I am not willing to raise a wall. For every brick I see added to it, I am going to do my very best to pull it back down. I do this as a white woman. As a cisgendered person in a heteronormative relationship. As someone who has privilege. I pledge to use that privilege to tear down that wall every day, for as long as it takes.