Today, I find myself in a precarious position of devastation, desperation and helplessness. I, like a majority of Americans who voted, did not want to see this cabinet replace that of the Obama Administration. I, like a majority of Americans, felt that when it came to deciding between a highly qualified, experienced woman and a man who ran a platform appealing to white entitlement, bigotry and hatred, that there was no decision to make. But, going into the 2016 election, I took my education and my progressive privilege for granted, assuming that because I understood the dangers of a Trump/Pence presidency, everyone else must’ve too. Now, less than an hour before the inauguration ceremony takes place, I am still grappling with how to keep my shoulders up and my head held high in the face of an administration that seeks to see so many of us torn down.
Based on the cabinet hearings, Congressional declarations and press conferences we’ve seen with the past few weeks, it seems as though over the course of the next four years, we will likely bear witness to an unprecedented level of divisiveness. Donald Trump played heavily on the fear of equality that allows racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia— the list goes on and on— to continuously pervade and prevent cultural progression.
Like many of my friends and loved ones, I am terrified by the empty promises he makes, uncertain of how far he will go to prove a point. What happens when Mike Pence and Paul Ryan lose the fragile control they have over his marionette strings? This man is dangerous for both his lack of maturity and critical thinking abilities but also for his unpredictability. Donald Trump has more to prove than anyone in this inaugural administration and, if his past behavior is anything indicator, there is no limit to his righteous egoism. And, though many of his defenders would like to argue that social media rantings are harmless forms of expression, we needn’t forget that fire is just fire until it becomes a natural disaster. 140 characters isn’t much but it only takes a spark.
Or an SNL sketch.
Or a speech by the father of a deceased veteran.
Or and or and or. This is the man we have chosen to elect as president. A man who handles criticism with the emotional maturity of a first grader, who retaliates against all with the courage to speak against him, will now be holding one of the most criticized positions in the world. His insecurity leads him to make everyone else feel small. Donald Trump is not a fearless leader but we must be fearless in our opposition to his hateful rhetoric.
Especially when it threatens and undermines our rights to freedom of speech and expression and art. Now, more than ever, we need art and expression because their purpose is to tell the truth about humanity and culture and what we find valuable and beautiful and worthy of believing in. If we have the privilege of voice, we must remember that it is a powerful tool against oppressive legislation and injustice. We must also remember that our privilege does not give us the right to speak for others, that instead, we must listen to them so that we may understand how to be better allies. No matter what this presidency brings, we must continue to think and read and educate ourselves and those around us because intellect and critical thought are the enemies of irrationality. Above all, be kind and do good. Refuse hatred a room in your hotel of hearts. It does not deserve your hospitality.
This marks the first day of a four year sentence so it’s time to lace up your boots and strap on your courage because we’re in for in it for the long haul. The future belongs to our descendants and we owe them a better world than the one we’ve got.
And, no matter what, stay strong; stay empowered; stay nasty.
Featured image here.