This year I held my tongue when anyone started talking about the election. I stood in the proverbial sidelines while friends and loved ones “duked” it out on social media over their chosen candidate. Even though I might have agreed with a viewpoint, I did not speak up in fear that I would alienate someone. I witnessed many react to the news and comments from deep set feelings. They reacted from hurt and fear– fear of discrimination, loss of standing, loss of hard fought equal rights, or pain of seeing their jobs and livelihood ripped away without a reasonable replacement.
What passed as news was a barrage of hate and mudslinging. As election day approached, it seemed to only worsen, until no one could see through rain of lies and half-truths. “Fake” news and “real” news heralded such elephant tales that they both seemed just as plausible.
People looked to the candidates to soothe their fears, a reassurance that their life and livelihood mattered. Most of all, they wanted to be heard, wanted their voice to count. Over and over it seemed that the people’s voices were muffled by the candidate’s talking points. Questions were left unanswered; fears were fanned by the media buffoon parade.
People gave up. Like me, many just watched aghast- did nothing to promote their heartfelt beliefs. Did nothing to get others to vote FOR a cause/candidate rather than AGAINST the other. I voted, but 50% of Americans did not.
On November 8th, I watched with millions of other Americans as the votes were tallied. I sat on the edge of my couch as each state was called. Even as the drama unfolded on my TV, I refreshed NPR and my state’s election page on my phone ever other minute.
At a second to midnight, Donald Trump, a conman, a sycophant salesman, received enough electoral votes to be the President Elect. This I saw scrolling on my TV and phone. This I heard broadcasted from the radio. But this information just didn’t compute. This announcement did nothing to quell the simmering disquiet on both sides. It boiled over and left so many bereaved.
The next day, a new fear echoed across my newsfeed. How? Why? What did it mean that enough people voted for a fickle misogynist? Would he follow through with his promises? Would the people and policies he represents endanger the right for everyone to be treated equally? Would our voices, already muffled, now fall on deaf ears?
As these unanswered questions raced through my mind, I was overwhelmed with guilt. I did nothing to prevent this. I was too comfortable with my viewpoints, too afraid of offending anyone.
What would have happened if I had spoke up? If I had knocked on doors or called? What if I had piped in on those heated debates and pointed out the flaws in the media coverage? Only if I had listened to the “other side’s” woes and advocated for their issues as much as “my side’s” issues- as a collective whole rather than divided. As one, maybe the other candidates would have heard. But I did nothing.
Nearly a month later, I’ve had a chance to contemplate my inaction. I’ve had a chance to wash off the post-election sludge and accept that I can’t change what I happened.
Today, I declare that I have a VOICE. A VOICE protected by the 1st amendment. I intend to use this VOICE to speak for those that cannot, to listen to people in all walks of life and to encourage those to “walk in another’s shoes;” to reach across the aisle in attempt to make America WHOLE again. I will SPEAK against discrimination in every corner of the government. I will hold all my representatives, local, state, and federal, accountable to upholding the rights guaranteed by the constitution.
As a good friend said today, I will not be afraid to “drop a pebble the water and make ripples.” I will stay silent no more; I will not “go quietly into that good night.”
I hope everyone reading this will join me. Together, we can make waves.
Next: 10 Ways to Make Waves