We Are the Luckiest (Hear Me Out)
I wanted to write something about how hurt I am by the people in my life, people I love, who have belittled my stance on this election. They have said to me, “What can we do, we have to just move on.”
This piece explains my grief better than I could have: Here’s Why We Grieve Today. Give it a read, and then come back.
It’s not about politics or not liking the president. I don’t, for the record, like him. I will, for the record, work to make change. I am not crying because Trump is a small, single-minded man (for the record, he is).
I am crying because so many people chose to vote for him. I am crying because they felt they had no choice.
I am crying because educated white women made this choice, and they felt they had no other option.
I want to understand all of these people, and I want to do it in love. That’s my mission now.
So. Instead of writing more about my grief, I want to tell you why we’re the luckiest. Again, I ask you to hang in there. You can roll your eyes, but please keep reading.
I have not done enough. I have never done enough. I insulated myself in a happy, peace-love-inclusion-for-all bubble. I liked it there; everyone was kind and spoke of raising up all people.
I have to leave the bubble now and gain understanding of the bubble in which the rest of my country is sitting. It’s time to breach each other’s bubbles. As one of my friends has said many times this week, paraphrasing Stephen Covey, we must seek first to understand before we can be understood. I’m seeking.
Back to the title of this essay, and why we’re so darn lucky. For many, many months — months in which I chose to believe Trump could never be elected (how naive I was, and how embarrassed I am now to acknowledge the bubble I lived in) — I have been listening to Hamilton: An American Musical. My sons are obsessed with the music, and it’s the soundtrack of our home right now.
One song makes me cry every time. Truthfully, several songs make me cry every time. My children have asked me to stop blubbering through Dear Theodosia, but I pray they one day have their own children and understand my tears.
One song, however, has felt like an anthem, a battle cry, and only this week did it crystallize for me why it’s been such an important song for me. In the song, The Schuyler Sisters, Angelica/Renée Elise Goldsberry sings, “Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now.”
She goes on to say that the revolution is happening all around us.
And every time I hear it I think, Yes! We are so lucky to be alive right now.
Stay with me.
I know a lot of you do not feel that way.
Or maybe you do. If you’re one of the people telling us all to just be grateful we live in the United States, then you probably do already feel that way, but I argue that you don’t understand why you should feel that way.
We are the luckiest, because we are in the ashes now. We have allowed* the right-wing Christian contingent to hide behind the Bible and make decisions affecting human rights, decisions that the Jesus I know would never stand for. We have allowed the wallets of the wealthy to impact too many decisions. We have allowed huge swaths of our own country to feel ignored.
*When I say we, I don’t necessarily mean you. When I say allowed, I don’t mean condoned. But I do mean that for many (myself included), we indirectly condoned it by not doing enough to fight it. You may have been on the right side of justice all along, while I only thought I was right. By not speaking loudly enough, at least not doing so outside of my safe bubble, I indirectly condoned these things.
Either way, though, we all have work to do now. We all must seek to understand, so that we can be part of the solution.
We are the luckiest, because I would argue that people on both sides of this election never want to face a vote like this one again. Not everyone on both sides, no. But a majority of us are ready for change. Our votes reflected that, as more of us voted for Hillary, or against Trump via third party votes, than voted for him. The majority of us do not sanction Trump, and that’s something.
Now we have to seek to understand and learn from this, like this piece in the Chicago Sun Times, Axelrod: Accept Trump’s election — and learn from it, says, “‘My hope is that rather than leaning out, this will cause all of us to lean in and understand the consequences of these elections,’ he [Axelrod] said.”
We are the luckiest, because out of these ashes, out of these hurts, we get to rise up (again, a little borrowing from Hamilton and Lin Manuel-Miranda). We get to raise the next generation of voters to learn from our complacency. May my children never wake up the morning after an election and think, I should have done more, I should have sought to understand my neighbor. May my children go beyond being educated voters, and instead be compassionate activists, and educated voters.
We don’t necessarily feel lucky today, while we grieve. Maybe we won’t feel like it for a while. But we are lucky. Why? We aren’t on the precipice anymore. This election pushed us right over. We’re in the ashy pit, and now? Now we get to climb out.
I’m a Christian, and it breaks my heart — breaks me, bringing me to my knees — to see, as Pavlovitz said, weaponized religion. The Jesus I know is not okay with anger, hate, misogyny, xenophobia, racism. The Jesus I know told us to love one another. Not the one anothers who are just like us, but every one. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s what we’re supposed to do.
(This grace has to extend even to our president-elect. I’m not ready yet, but I’m working on it. Maybe if we show love, he’ll reflect it back. Maybe. It’s worth a shot. But, again, I’m not ready yet.)
I’m so lucky to be alive right now, because I can stand up for a Christianity that stands on a foundation of love. This love encompasses the marginalized, stands up for the rights of women, of refugees, of immigrants, for all families. We stand for the rights of people. All people.
This love seeks to understand those in our voting body who feel ignored, and this love helps them feel seen and heard. This love teaches people to fish, and helps them build a place to fish.
We are the luckiest. We are.
We get to sit in this pit, and listen to each other.
We get to sit in this pit, getting know each other, beginning to understand.
We get to sit in this pit and begin to precede our votes with action. It’s not enough to say, “I understand you now.” No, we have to do work and give money and speak with our actions and wallets.
Soon, we will get to climb out of the pit, and we will carry up others with us.
We will never take the pit for granted, because out of it will come a new era.
Look around. We are lucky to be alive right now.
The revolution is happening.