We are now 15 days removed from the national elections and I have very mixed emotions of where we are as a nation.
On one hand, I am openly happy and relieved in the knowledge that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as President and Vice President on January 20, 2021. On the other hand a not so secret hard truth was also laid bare on Tuesday, November 3rd,…… this country has a very long way to go.
In an amazing show of civic duty, over 150 million citizens exercised their right to vote. This is unheard of. Never could one have imagined this kind of a turnout and it truly is awe-inspiring that so many of our voting public took part in the process. But what hurts my heart is how that number split….
Over 73 million voting citizens stood with hate, racism, misogyny and conspiracy theories,… the ugliest of what society has to offer. I am not calling all of these voters racists, misogynists or conspiracy theorists, but by casting their ballot for someone that openly pedals in all of those things, it is a clear wink and nod that it’s ok. In fact, it’s downright scary.
In 2016, nearly 63 million plus cast their ballot for that same person. Back then, some could say, oh, it’s all bluster. It will be different once his presidency begins. It was not and deep down, many of those voters knew it wouldn’t be. So here we are 4 years later and that near 63 million increased to over 73 million. That is what deeply saddens me. More people joined up in support of the very stains of society that people like the late great Congressman John Lewis, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., my mother and late father fought against and continue to fight against today.
Some of you may say, that’s not fair! No, I am not ok with those things. That my focus is solely the economy, my personal economic struggle, solely abortion rights, solely judgeships, everything else is secondary to my lone tunnel visioned issue.
That is my entire point.
Let’s remove the actual issues and put this in a clear and easy to decipher perspective. Pick a prized possession, any possession you like. A family heirloom that has been passed down from generation to generation. A ring, an instrument, a set of glasses, anything you want. Now that lone possession is your sole focus. One day, your house starts to smolder, you smell the smoke, you know something is not right. You start looking to figure out where the smoke is coming from and realize, a fire is starting to blaze. However, you don’t call the fire department or emergency services, you go find your prized possession and run outside. You are calm in knowing your possession is safe in your hands, you will not let anything happen to your prized possession, IT is all that matters!
Unfortunately, your house burns down to the ground. Why didn’t you call 911 and ask for help? Perhaps you could have saved your home and your possession. You may have even saved your neighbors house that also went down in flames because they weren’t home to call 911 or worse, they died having passed out and were unable to get out.
That is what tunnel vision is. When your focus is solely on one thing and “the rest is secondary” you are complicit in the rest of the heap. You can’t ignore racism, hatred, misogyny, lies and say you don’t agree, but refuse to do anything to stop it. When you don’t stand against it, you are saying it’s ok. 73 million plus American citizens said, ‘it is ok’, and that breaks… my… heart.
There is a poem by the German Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemöller, where he indicts not only those who stood by and watched the Nazi’s rise to power, but himself as one who looked on as well:
First they came for the socialists,
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me-
And there was no one left to speak for me.
Life is complex, it is not a single issue existence. Yet so many people treat it exactly as such. As a black woman, I don’t have the luxury to just shake it off and say oh well, that’s a ‘you’ problem. First of all, it’s not a ‘you’ problem it is an ‘us’ problem, as in ALL OF US AS A NATION. If we continue to act like these are simply ancillary issues that only a small number of overly dramatic people are blowing up, we will never reach that utopian society that the seriously flawed founding fathers were striving for.
We don’t have to agree on all things, but we should all agree on some pretty basic truths: Hate, Racism, Misogyny are wrong. There is no place for them and they should not be given the oxygen to exist and fester. I can only speak for myself, I know my heart and I know that I have a love for people and differences, but my anger and frustration have too often given way to hate. Hate weighs you down, it takes so much energy to carry. My mother always said to me, never hate anyone, you can strongly dislike someone but don’t hate them, because hate gets you nowhere. I find it difficult to separate my hate of the ugly, divisive racist actions someone purposefully brandishes, from that person. I must admit, I have not done well with it, but the hate is fading because the heartbreak has taken over.
I personally know individuals who cast their ballot for a person who mocks humanity in word and deed. I can say that I don’t hate them. I am heartbroken by what they support but I won’t turn that heartbreak back over to hate, because then hate wins.
I have two beautiful children whose smiles show me everyday, there is a world where hate doesn’t exist yet… it’s in their eyes, their innocence and their love. I wish I could bottle that up, because, yes, our country has a very long way to go. I wonder if I will be around to see us get there….