When I first began writing this post, it was about staying positive when facing a year abroad. As I wrote it developed to staying positive in the face of challenges and lost hopes. It changed again, quite drastically, after the 2016 American Election results. Now more than ever I feel this is relevant.
The news of the 2016 American Election results will forever be burned into our minds and, for those with any real sense, will have left us devastated, dejected and demoralised. I’m not American, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t effect me, and everyone else in the world. However, the most important thing now is not giving in to the fear and hate that has won this election. Sticking together, supporting all those who have been attacked during his campaign, and who will face further attacks, is crucial. Woman, LGBTQ+ members, minorities, Muslims, people with disabilities, and so many others are now afraid and angry, and rightly so, but these emotions have to be pushed towards continuing to fight for the future we believe in. Staying positive and continuing to fight for equality, against hate and discrimination is our only chance to save our futures from the ‘huge’ number of negative outcomes of recent events. After Brexit, I thought things couldn’t get much worse, but it did. Now I find myself genuinely concerned for humanity. I’m scared of the world I live in, of the closed-minded people in it. So the only way I can keep my head above water is to think of everything I have worth fighting for, and continue to speak up for what I believe is right.
I will admit now that I’ve never been very good at politics. As much as I try to follow it, usually it confuses me quite a bit before making any sense, and that’s something I’m working on. I believe it is crucial for every person who has the gift which is the right to vote, to educate themselves on important issues, research into what they believe is best for their country, and vote when the time comes. Ignorance, lack of information, or laziness cannot be an excuse, not these days, not when the stakes are so high. When I was at school I was taught how important it was to vote, especially as a woman. In the UK, it was 1918 when woman’s suffrage won the vote, and even then you had to be 30 when men only had to be 21. The Equal Franchise Act 1928 finally gave women in the UK the same voting rights as men, and I believe heart and soul that, that something we fought so hard and long for, that we suffered and lost lives for, should not be wasted. World War II was fought with the same much stronger and larger ideals, that people should be free to voice our beliefs, and not be afraid of bullies when doing so. This year many Americans voiced their opinions in this vote, and Trump won. It appears the ideals of freedom that are so strongly loved though, aren’t so evident at the moment. Hate and discrimination has seemed to have taken over, and from a social and societal perspective, it’s terrifying.
After Brexit race and religious hate crimes increased by 41% in the UK. Which makes me scared to think about the coming weeks and months in America. It’s only been a couple of days and tweets from women afraid of wearing the hijab, and other scared Muslims have already broken my heart. “My mom literally just texted me “don’t wear the Hijab please” and she’s the most religious person in our family….” tweeted @harryonmen, and that’s just one of many outcries of fear. Racism is already such a big issue, but having an openly racist (among other things) president, only tells people that is behaviour his acceptable. It isn’t. I think more than anything it’s that Donald Trump without hesitation has shown he is a sexist, racist, homophobic, bigot whose ideals lie with discrimination and hate. I have been disgusted more than once by the things he has said, and that’s the man the majority of voting Americans have chosen to represent them. The fact that is even possible condones such vile behaviour it doesn’t bear thinking about. Except we have to. We can’t ignore it, and we sure as hell can’t sweep it under the carpet. Many people will now think it’s acceptable to act in a similar way, and that is the most terrifying thing, not Trump himself, but his followers. That millions of people, ashamed of their actions or not, voted for a man who is not only unqualified for the position he has gained, but is now known for the number of times he’s said the word China, and even worse the phrase “grab them by the p***y”. His sexism is yet another thing that angers me to the core, especially when he tries to say that “nobody has more respect for women” than him, which I’m sorry to say is complete bullshit. (Sorry for the strong language, but sometimes it’s called for. Sometimes.) Yet, he’s still managed to become president. It makes me feel physically sick that this behaviour has had very few repercussions, and with not even one apology, he waltzes into the White House.
“So how do we stay positive in the face of this?” I hear you cry. Well… I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but if we want to get through the next four years, staying positive and continuing to fight for our beliefs is what we’ll have to do. It’s not the end of the world, not yet at least. The next few years will be a long fight, but if we can salvage the good that is left in the world, it will be worth it. Yes, I am terrified, but I have never let fear stop me from doing something, and I’m sure as hell not letting that change now. We just have to keep hoping for the best case scenarios. I mean he still has to get the senate’s approval if he wants to pass anything, and that’s hard enough normally. Looking out for those who are vulnerable, protecting them, comforting them, speaking up for them when they are attacked is something that must be done at every point from now on. We have to show people that the behaviour portrayed by Trump is unacceptable, and will be acted against. Fear and hate must be fought with love and hope. I cannot stand by and watch as the world slowly turns into one of the apocalyptic dystopias we see on TV (The 100 flashes to the front of my mind), and pretend that it’s all going to be okay. It’s a naive school of thought to think that this hasn’t already caused lasting damage that will impact us all, if not politically (although he plans some big changes there) than definitely socially. I do not envy the parents who have to console their children over the fear Trump has caused, Aaron Sorkin’s open letter to his daughter is just one example. However, consoling those in fear and despair, helping them to understand the fight isn’t over, is vitally important. We must continue on until the day discrimination, hate, and injustice is no longer something we have to worry about.
I must admit when the news first came through, my faith in humanity was shaken. I was scared and worried of what the future would hold. I feared the outbreak of war (hell, I’m still scared of that one) and the giant step back I felt the world was taking. Yes, this is a knock back. Yes, this will make progress slower and more challenging, but we will prevail in making the world a more decent and accepting place. Not because I’m some sappy believer in the greater good (although there is that, too), but because we have to. So when in a decade or so I decide to settle down and have kids, I can bring them into a world I’m not ashamed of. To protect the children living now who are being brought up into a world with an ever more uncertain future. We have to fight for them until they can fight for themselves, until they can fight with us. The world is a terrifying enough place, we can’t let it get worse. So be positive. Think of the good things that came out of this election; Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American female Legislator, Catherine Cortez Masto has become the first Latina US Senator, Kamala Harris was elected into the senate, as well as Tammy Duckworth. Also the fact so many have come together in agreement to say that this is not the end, and that they will continue to fight for a better future is an amazing thing. This isn’t the end, because we won’t let it be.
There is so much more to say on this matter, but if I did this article would be far longer than anyone is willing to read, and it’s kinda already pushing it. So I end here, saying please don’t give up in speaking up and fighting for what is right. It will take every one of us to repair the damage being done, and we can repair it, because we have to if we ever want to move forward. (Oh, and one last small thing: #Imstillwither.)