One year ago was one of the worst days of my life. I was so full of hope and energy- finally, I thought, our first woman President! I had volunteered for the campaign and cast my vote. I thought I had done my part. This was a woman I was proud to vote for, despite her flaws, and couldn't wait to see her lead. You all know what happened next. It was a night that few expected and forever changed an entire generation of Americans.
One year and a day ago, I sobbed all morning as I watched Hillary's concession speech. I was heartbroken to see a qualified woman lose to the least qualified man possible. If they vilify her, what horrible things will they do to me? I yelled a professor in front of the whole class and swore in front of another. That whole day was a blur. It wasn't just watching my candidate lose. It wasn't just that I disagreed with the politics of Republican party. It was much more than that. The whole day, and frankly this whole year, I was unable to get over the fact that 63 million people had elected a sexual predator President of the United States. This man is more than racist, harmful politics. He has abused women over and over and over again, and somehow that was acceptable collateral damage to 63 million people. Somehow that wasn't worse than a politician having a (D) behind their name on the ballot.
One year ago, those words made me sick to my stomach. That much hasn't changed. I will never, ever get over that. I will never be okay with it. I will never stop being angry that a man was caught on camera saying those disgusting words, that the whole nation knew about it, and weeks later 63 million people voted for him. Every single day that goes by, the Republican party continues to support a man who bragged about sexual assault. I will bring up this quote every single time someone defends him because this is who they are defending and they know it. There is a line that we must all draw for ourselves and he crossed mine one day one. The fact that this wasn't past people's lines breaks my heart.
One year ago, my sadness turned to rage and it's been a fire inside me ever since. Ever since he got elected, I have been so angry there are times I can barely breathe. THIS IS WRONG. THIS IS WRONG. THIS IS WRONG. I want to shout at the air or take a whack at a punching bag. My best nonviolent principles have been severely tested this year. How could this possible? How could someone, with an entire administration and political party behind him, be allowed to do so much damage to human lives and denigrate our entire political discourse? I have been beyond angry. I have been enraged.
One year ago, an inner rage began that I've quite figured out how to quiet. Every time I get on Twitter I see yet another injustice, small or large, that makes me want to scream. Destroying national parks, gutting the EPA, corrupt business practices, massive conflicts of interest, disgusting budget priorities, stacking the courts with horrible judges and bringing back the war on drugs. It's a massive pile of bullshit that will take us decades to dig ourselves out from.
Don't even get me started on all the people who said "Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are just two sides of the game coin." I feel like I'm going to turn into Arya Stark, ready to start striking their names off my list.
Now it's one year later. It's hard to believe it's been that long since Donald Trump was elected President (because it feels like an eternity.) The election didn't change everything, and it certainly wasn't out of left field for me. I knew how messed up things were in this world and in our country, but I believed they were at least getting better. This year has challenged that idea. Does the arc of history bend toward justice? Only if there's someone to bend it.
I'm naturally prone to be driven by anger, but this year has proven just how exhausting that is. I've been thinking a lot about an interview Lin-Manuel Miranda did a few weeks ago, in which he shared his inspiration for his latest song, Almost Like Praying.
“I don’t run well on anger and outrage. I think of it as a fuel source — so are joy and love. Rage is a great fuel source — you’ll go real fast, but it’ll blow up the vehicle, at least for me. ‘Almost Like Praying’ is written from such a place of love for the island, and I think the artists involved responded to that. I think that will do more good in the long run than an angry tweet will — and an angry tweet is good, if it’s justified and righteous. But that’s not my comfort zone, which is to work from a place of love. That’s what I try to do every day.”
This resonates so deeply with me. Rage is a great fuel source for a little while, but it leaves me exhausted and bedraggled. I've spent the last year fighting in spurts, wearing myself out, and constantly feeling guilty for not doing enough. That is no way to live and it's no way to fight. Rage isn't sustainable and it isn't what we need more of in this world. A bit of holy rage? Absolutely. Jesus flipping tables at the temple is my favorite Jesus. But my other favorite Jesus is the one who eats dinner with prostitutes and scoundrels. I love the Jesus that welcomes children and has compassion for poor women.
The Jesus I know and follow is not known for his holy rage, he's known for his holy love. It's taken me a year to get here, but I think I'm ready for some holy love in this world. I'm still going to get angry at injustice, it's how I operate in this world, but I'm also going to turn toward love. I can't control what Donald Trump and his goon squad do; I can only control what I bring to this world and I choose love. I choose to be for something, rather than only against something. So what am I for?
I'm for learning and growing.
I'm for loving your neighbor as yourself.
I'm for restorative justice.
I'm for radical inclusion.
I'm for reparations and begging for forgiveness.
I'm for kindness and compassion.
I'm for caring for creation.
I'm for freedom and liberation.
I'm for economic, racial, and environmental justice.
I'm for women- young and old, cis and trans, straight and queer.
I'm for you, if you want me.
I've learned a lifetime's worth of lessons in the past year. It's the only thing I don't wish were different. I have learned to speak, write, and think differently about myself and my fellow humans. I hope that a year from now, I will have learned a thousand lessons more. I hope that this is not my finished product, but merely a signpost along the way.
Last night, I watched another election go very differently than it did a year ago. There were trans women, women of color, and progressives elected up and down ballots across the country. There was hope in the air. I'm not quite so foolish as to place my home in the democratic party, but I'll celebrate victories where I see them.
One year later, I am not who I used to be. I'm stronger and wiser now. I'm a little bit more tender and ready to get to a new kind of work. I'm not just fighting against something, I'm fighting for something. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.