Letter to a Friend
Don’t worry. Today only feels like the end of the world…
— 1 —
A hurricane has made landfall. It’s a Category 5. And right now, we’re in the eye of it — it feels oddly calm. We may even think it won’t be as bad as we thought it would be. Don’t be fooled. It’s here, and it’s about to rage.
But hurricanes get downgraded, and eventually they dissipate all together. Yes, they leave a path of destruction in their wake. Yes, we know another hurricane will one day come. But so what. We reach down, pick up the pieces, and start to rebuild.
“Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
— 2 —
In our lifetimes, Republicans will win and lose. Democrats will win and lose. Other parties will win and lose. But you just hope that, no matter what, your president will be a decent person — my neighbor who I disagree with but fundamentally respect. Unfortunately, a decent person didn’t win. Respect didn’t win. Bigotry won. Racism won. Xenophobia won. Misogyny won. Anti-semitism won. And a lot of other things that we must teach our children to abhor won.
Hillary Clinton’s victory in the popular vote tells us that the majority of Americans do not believe what Donald Trump and his most ardent supporters believe. But his victory in the electoral college tells that we must not ignore what they believe. We may disagree with our neighbor about policy, but we must work to agree on the fundamentals of our polity.
Half of the country voted because they’re scared of tomorrow. And half of the country voted because they’re hopeful for it. I’ll cast my vote for hope over fear every day of my life. “Love trumps hate” was the wrong message. Hate implies that they are wrong, and I am right. Rather: hope trumps fear. You are afraid, and I am not.
— 3 —
For a cosmic perspective (and with a hat tip to Neil deGrasse Tyson), let’s remember the words of Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the Moon:
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’”
The most important cause for our democracy is education, and the most important cause for our planet is our planet. Without education our nation will fall, and without climate change our civilization will surely go, too. That has never been more clear than it is right now.
— 4 —
I know it feels like there is more that divides us than unites us. That all of these dystopian movies set in the mid-twenty-first century seem very plausible all of a sudden. But today the sun rose. Babies are being born. Time Warner is now Spectrum. Life continues. And the struggles of yesterday continue as do the fights of tomorrow. The country that elected Donald Trump is also the country that elected Barack Obama. We’re fighters, and we aren’t going anywhere. So long as there’s an America, I will never stop being an American. “Don’t boo, vote” must now become “don’t cry, get involved.” To quote Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Don’t worry. Today only feels like the end of the world.