I haven’t written a new post in a while. For the few months around Halloween I was mostly devoting my energy and free time toward constructing a merbabe costume, a merfessional version that I could wear to work, and meowmaid costumes for my cats. Turns out painting seashells by hand, or sewing felt scales one by one is time consuming. Who knew?
And then the election happened, and I was so blindsided that I needed time to find the words for what I was feeling. I’ve had to explain to some close friends why the results hit me so hard, I’ve had to explain how to show compassion. These are not conversations that I thought I would have to have with the people I love, the people who I thought got it.
I understand people have different visions for this country, and different priorities. I thought that this country would want to move in a more inclusive, hopeful direction. I thought my generation was more united, and that was incredibly naïve of me. I had a lot of discussions with people around me in the days following the election, trying to understand what exactly had happened, and how it had happened.
I witnessed some ugly interactions. One of my best friends who no longer lives in the country posted that America should “grow up” and stop crying because an election didn’t go a certain way. We don’t agree on a lot of political points, but what shocked me was how she was condemning people over their own personal despair, and ridiculing them when they brought up their fears on how this new administration and government would move forward. Dumbfounded, I had to literally explain compassion to her, and point out why her post lacked any.
I had a handful of close friends who chose not to vote, or who used their vote as a joke, writing in the name of someone they knew instead of an actual candidate. I didn’t have a problem with the people who voted differently than me, I had a problem with the people who didn’t care enough about it at all, as if they would suffer no repercussions from either choice. That is what I still can’t understand: this apathy toward the outcome of an election, of a country, of how it will affect everyone, and at the very least how it will affect you directly as a person.
I’ve had a lot of conversations since the election. I’ve talked with people who voted for Trump, had honest and calm discussions about their reasons for voting for him. I’ve talked with the people who voted third party, who just could not stand to vote for either major candidate. I still try to have conversations with my friend who voted as a joke, I try to talk to her about the things that are going on in the world. I’ve had two friends tell me that they just don’t care, that it’s too much effort to keep up with the constantly changing news and the topics. My friend in another country told me that it’s “frankly tiring” to always try to think about the umbrella of equality.
I believe in conversation as a tool for change. I realize some people will never change their stance, but I do believe that by talking about differences, by sharing differing points of view, we can at least attempt to bridge the gap between us. You don’t know what someone is going through, what they’ve been through, if you don’t tell your story, if you’re not given the chance to be heard. I believe it is our duty as human beings to listen to each other, to hear each other’s concerns, to talk about what we’re afraid of, what we hope for, what we believe in. I believe that we can make our lives meaningful by trying to make our time count, to try and support each other despite our differences. I believe in trying to make another person’s life better, even if just for a minute, in trying to show kindness and compassion in everything you do.
It is work, having hard conversations, educating or even reeducating yourself, opening up to a new way of thinking, reading, talking, asking questions. I believe that by doing these things, we can make the decisions that will best represent ourselves and our priorities. Whether or not your choices mirror my own, you are honoring all those who fought for you to have the right to make that choice. Please don’t act like none of this matters – it does. Believe in something. Anything.