Eyes Wide Open

There comes a point when you cannot possibly shut your eyes any more. When the truth is shining its light so brightly that to ignore it is to ignore something far more fundamental.

Like so many other people in this country, the results of the 2016 election have left me reeling. I didn’t fully understand the depth to which the racism and hatred had sunk the morale of the nation.

I live in a bubble - New York City. Our neighborhood is one of the most racially and culturally diverse in the city, making it probably the most diverse in the country. I can count on one hand the people I talk to regularly that voted with the conservative faction.

So, there it is.
I tried to talk to those people to find out why they made the choices that they did. I couldn’t get through. I listened, and offered alternatives. But even if I could make them listen, it’s too late, the votes have been cast, and peoples views have been exposed. Like flipping a rock in the garden, to reveal the maggots and bugs underneath.

My kids, young as they are, are scared. Scared for their friends. Their school has a student population of mostly immigrant families. Ben is worried about the wall. He wonders whether his friends will have to go back to their countries until the next president can tear that wall down again. Claire is worried for the safety of her Muslim friends, many of whom wear headscarves. And if they don’t yet wear them, have mothers who do.

They haven’t yet begun to worry about their dad, flying around the country for work. They are too young to have experienced terrorism on that scale. But their school experience has included lockdown drills and active shooter drills since they began attending.  

When I heard the news about the election, I cried. I let the disapppointment crush me for a while, as I lay on the bed sobbing about the lost hope I was feeling. I took another few days to properly grieve the hope of President Hillary Clinton. Then I woke up, and I’m going to stay woke for the rest of my day.

Now, I am making phone calls, speaking my mind for the first time in years. Planning and participating. This past weekend our neighborhood put together a bake sale in our local park. We raised $3600 for two local non-profits that support the immigrants that live here.

Bit by bit, we will find our strength again, I have to believe in that. I cannot allow myself to lose hope and I will keep my eyes open and looking towards the future.


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