There’s an elephant in the room; he’s moving up to the White House and I can’t not address it. Donald Trump is our President Elect and about half of us (or 200,000 people beyond half as discerned by the popular vote) are displeased. And everyone has something to say about it – including me. All of this hate arising from post-election results needs to stop.
We may not all agree on the Republican party’s platform, and we may not all enjoy Donald Trump’s demeanor. But this democracy that we are so fortunate to live in has elected him.
Like so many of my peers have expressed, this is a time for discussion. If you are dissatisfied, let this be a time for contemplation and civil action beginning with you. Maybe we have outgrown the electoral college, maybe it’s time to consider compulsory voting. With about 50% voter turnout, I can guarantee that half of the nation is not apathetic. (Is anyone not already tired of hearing each and every person’s complaints?)
But, most importantly…
What I remember most following the results of yet another highly controversial election, Obama vs McCain in 2008, was how some of our country’s citizens – those displeased with the results – refused to acknowledge Obama as our President elect. Some people, enraged for a wide variety of reasons, refused to offer an ounce of effort in coming together to support our future Commander in Chief. It seems to me many of those withheld their support for eight years.
Yes, for some of us this is tough to swallow. Some constituents are unsure of their place in this country, and have fear in regard to how and if they will be represented – if anyone is looking out for their best interests. Women, blacks, lower-class, middle-class, Hispanics, immigrants, liberals, millennials.. it goes on. What we can’t allow, however, is a nation divided.
I went to bed last night knowing that our nation elected Trump, and I woke up to a world that may begin to look a little different. As I was contemplating what the changes to come may look like, I received a text from my parents that helped to put things in perspective.
This morning while taking my mamaw out to breakfast, my parents overheard a man asking if the diner could feed him. My mom said he looked like he was going to cry, and while my dad went over to tell the wait staff that they would pay for his meal, my mom went to speak with him. She learned that he had lung cancer and had been to the doctor recently. While she could have left it at that and returned to her table knowing that they performed a small act of kindness already, something inside told her to invite him to eat with my family. He accepted.
They learned a lot about this man; that he was homeless, was sleeping in a car, and walking miles and miles each day to meet his everyday needs. His feet were covered in blisters and his shoes were worn through.
While simply sitting down to breakfast, the man asked my family why they were doing this for him. This part of the story is the part that brings me to near-tears. That this man, with undeniably less opportunities in life than some of us, may have never seen this sort of kindness before. That witnessing this sort of expression of kindness bestowed upon him was a rarity.
Nevertheless, my parents took him to the store and bought him two pairs of socks and a new pair of shoes. My mom, dad, and mamaw took him to the bus station where they got him a ticket (a $50 ticket for only an hour and a half bus ride), one that he could obviously not afford, to Johnson City where his sister lived.
In a moment when this country feels uncertainty, where an obvious chunk of our constituents already feels unrepresented, be kind. If you cannot begin to understand your neighbor’s opposing viewpoint, start a conversation aimed at understanding and ask. Most importantly, let’s embrace compassion in a moment when our nation feels uncertainty.
Donald Trump will be our future President, but as my parents quietly demonstrated this morning, each of us has the power to restore hope in each other.
After all, we make up this great nation that we are lucky to live in.
Compassion will get us through.