What will we do the day after Election Day?
By Teo Drake
I doubt I am alone, during this election cycle, in being afraid, being exhausted, being exhausted of being afraid, and also having moments of anger.
When I think about the day after Election Day, I hope to feel relief. If things go the way I hope they will, my fear is that for those of us who feel relief, all of our anxiety and exhaustion will turn into self-righteousness and gloating — if, that is, we have the comfort and safety and ability to go back to living in a world that seems comfortable and safe.
Meanwhile, the inequality and violence that shaped this current election cycle won’t have changed, and the lives of those of us who have always born the brunt of that inequality and violence won’t have changed. If anything, this election cycle has stoked the fires of racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of inequality and violence.
So I need us to stay awake. I need those of us who continue to be in danger to find each other and stay connected. And for the rest of us, those for whom danger is less present, I need us to remember that not all of us are safe.
Early on in my sobriety, I learned the importance of pausing for a moment when I am hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired (what’s known as HALT). I’m not my highest self in those moments. My survival depends on taking the time to check in and get in touch with my own heart space and with my connection to those around me.
As we head into Election Day and the days immediately after, I believe we are all in need of that pause and I worry that we won’t choose or be allowed to take that precious time. I can see the hunger for safety and connection. I hear the anger on all sides. The divisiveness has certainly created profound isolation and fatigue.
My ask is that today, tomorrow, and the next day, you join me in pausing. Pause to breathe. Pause to get connected to your own heart space. Pause to remember our shared humanity.
For those of us who have born the brunt of the trauma inflicted by violent rhetoric, who are genuinely afraid and at risk, may this pause bring comfort and connection. My hope for us is to find the time and space to remember that we are valued, that we are loved, and that we belong — and to find one another in that pause.
For those of us who have the privilege of safety and comfort, whose lives are organized in ways that allow a certain amount of comfort but who still feel anxiety, may this pause serve to remind us of the ongoing call to democratize wellbeing. My hope for us is to remember who might still be afraid and might still be facing violence the day after Election Day.
And should we feel relief on Election Day, although it might be tempting to indulge in gloating, my hope is that by pausing and making the choice to be in our heart space and to be connected, we can choose to recommit to ensuring that everyone has the ability to be safe, to be comfortable, and ultimately to be well — no matter who they voted for.
If, on the other hand, we wake up the day after Election Day to a Trump America, if our lives afford us a certain level of safety or comfort and we can joke about leaving, may we think about who doesn’t have that choice and may truly need it. Because at its very core, wellness begins with being safe. If we can’t be safe, we can’t be fully well.
Ultimately, just as none us can be free until all of us are free — as more than a century of freedom fighters have reminded us — so too, none of us can truly be well until all of us are well.
So please, the day after Election Day, join me in a pause. And a recommitment to the wellbeing of all.
Teo Drake is a spiritual activist, an educator, a practicing Buddhist and yogi, and an artisan who works in wood and steel. As a blue collar queer-identified trans man living with AIDS, he has 101 reasons to not want to be present in his own skin. The physical and spiritual practice of yoga and Buddhist traditions made it possible to begin to heal and feel at home in his own body.