Yesterday was my birthday. Not that birthdays are really a big deal when you get to be my age... but it was my birthday nonetheless. Usually there are some minor celebrations - maybe a dinner and a few gifts and definitely some "Happy Birthdays" in passing. Yesterday was not a "happy" birthday. Yesterday I was sad. I was mad. I was distressed over the results of the American Presidential Election. I have spent many months following the coverage. I watched the primaries and those respective debates, when the candidates were battling within their own parties for the nomination. I spoke at length with my classes, namely my Grade 11 English classes, about what was happening in US politics, linking it to our studies of George Orwell's classic, 1984.
I watched and listened as Donald Trump used racist, sexist, homophobic remarks throughout his campaign, in shock and disgust. But I was always sure that he would never win. I didn't think it would be a landslide for Hillary Clinton, but I had faith that hate would not triumph.
Yesterday, when it was announced that Donald Trump was the President-Elect, I was upset. I was mad. I was sad. I was shocked.... truly shocked. I didn't see this coming.
This has nothing to do with political ideology; Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Socialist... I don't really care. I do not espouse my political views in the classroom because I do not feel that is my place.... nor really within the realm of my personal life with friends. This is not about Republicans winning. I have been very vocal in explaining that within any political ideology, there are people who make good leaders. Marco Rubio and John Kasich were both vying for the Republican nomination; both of these men I consider intelligent, well spoken, experienced politicians who were strong options for the leadership position. Does this mean I agree with their politics? No, it doesn't mean I agree with them on all issues or any issues... but I can respect and accept them because they carry themselves with a certain level of humility and class.
My problem with this election result is that Donald Trump stands for hate. I have a serious problem with someone who makes inflammatory remarks without even a second thought of the impact of these words. Someone who refuses to ever apologize and admit that he is wrong. I take issue with the fact he publicly declared that Mexicans in America are "rapists and criminals". I condemn anyone who suggests that someone taking part in his/her democratic and constiutional right to protest and peaceful assembly should be beaten up: “Maybe [the protester] should have been roughed up,” he mused. “It was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” I abhor the fact that a Presidential candidate can be excused for remarks that are not only sexist, but actually promote sexual assault, by saying to "grab her by the p*****" is just "locker room talk". I reject the notion that you can promise to deport "Muslim immigrants" and "build a wall" to keep Mexicans "out" and yet, still be considered "not racist"... that you can be endorsed by the KKK and not decry their support and reject any affiliation with them.
That is my problem with this election. That every single day I come to work and try to teach my students to be loving, kind, fair, understanding, respectful, caring and positive people and that the man who has just succeeded in attaining the highest political office has openly and proudly acted in a way that is bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, hateful and divisive.
So yesterday, I was angry. And I was sad.
But today, I am hopeful.
I listened to Hillary Clinton deliver a powerful, eloquent and gracious concession speech. It was so painful to watch. Not because she lost, but because he won. But in those moments, watching her speak, I felt hope. Because her speech was not a rally cry for protest, for revolution, for anger... but because it was devoid of bitterness... it was a call for all people to come together. She told her supporters "Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead". She thanked all those for supporting her and continued to reiterate the importance of doing the right thing: "You will have successes and setbacks, too. This loss hurts, but please, never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it. Nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion."
President Barack Obama also shared his thoughts, and true to what we have seen over the last 8 years, he did so with dignity and grace, telling the American people that he respects the democratic process and will "work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the President-elect -- because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country."
And that, is what is the key here. Because what is done is done. And hoping that President Elect Trump falls flat on his face and ruins America so that people can say "I told you so" is not only ignorant, but it's ridiculous and it's wrong. Everyone now has to hope that President Elect Trump is successful, because his success is America's success and it's the world's success.
So when, in his victory speech, he declared: "It is time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.", I choose to believe in hope and possibility and believe that he will choose to be true to his word to be President for ALL Americans; even those who have been marginalized and hurt by his remarks in the past. I choose to believe him when he says that he "will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict."
I choose HOPE because in the impassioned and fervent final words of Jack Layton:
Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
So while I am sad, and while it pains me still and while I will continue to champion equality and respect for all, while condemning hate and hurt, today I will look to the future with the optimism that if we all choose love instead of hate and hope instead of fear, our whole world will be a better place.
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!