America is Still Beautiful

It only took me about a week to remember it again.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

My profession has always been political advocacy, but in the last few years my heart has been in mindfulness. So you can imagine how this post-election week was quite an emotional tug of war.

As a matter of personal philosophy, I believe in kindness and human decency. So I was shocked, extremely shocked, last Tuesday when a man with a complete lack of human decency became president-elect Donald Trump.

My flash reaction was to lose hope in the goodness of man, like I’d been punched in the gut by the bully of a truly harsh reality. A troublingly large amount of people turned out to be selfish and vulgar, or if not, they were OK enough with selfish vulgarity to vote for someone who is, which is almost as bad.

This goes way beyond political ideology. We can debate and respectfully disagree on the issues ’til the cows come, I’m fine with that. But even beyond Trump’s particularly extremist positions — on women, minorities, religious freedom, LGBT rights, immigration, the economy, trade, taxes, the environment, and I could go on — there was little to no respect displayed by him during this campaign. The unprecedented reaction of despair and protest you’re seeing around the country right now is a direct result of that.

It was an emotionally chaotic couple of days. I couldn’t sleep. I ate way too much. I distracted myself with entertainment and booze. I often felt despondent. Was I wrong all this time to believe in the goodness of humanity?

But the days passed and eventually, here and there, the fog lifted to expose the sun again.

The warm glow shined a light on the truth: America is still beautiful. It is. America is still kind and decent and loving. America is still good.

I saw it in all the diverse and hopeful faces at the peaceful protest last weekend.

I saw it in every passionate advocate at my local Sierra Club political action committee meeting.

I saw it in my mother, who is now a fierce advocate for my rights, the rights of others, and the return of decency.

I saw it in the avalanche of donations to charitable organizations that piled up over the last week.

I saw it in the empathy and love that my man and all our friends shared with each other as we struggled to fathom this act of aggression toward our communities and common dignity.

I see kindness and charity and compassion and yes, beauty, all around me.

Sure, I see the fear and division and violence that’s going on as well. It started from top with Donald Trump and then trickled down. It’s devastating for my soul to bear witness to such an open display of hatred.

But still I believe, no I know, that we are better than that. Love is stronger than hate. It always has been and it always will be.

And in the end, love will win.

So I will not give up. I will not lose hope. I will fight for justice and equality and decency because we need it now more than ever. And if you stand against those things, or support the guy who does, then I will debate with you respectfully until you understand why those things are so important.

The beauty of America still shines together as one light, radiating into the darkness, a beacon of hope in a troubled nation. ​

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