Last Saturday, one day into Donald Trump’s presidency, I was feeling pretty down. Not even posts on social media from the Women’s March were able to make me feel much better. So I decided to sit down with a positivity journal my dad got me for Christmas to see if it would help at all. The very first page had a Winston Churchill quote: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” It hit me that all of the people at the marches around the world were doing just that, seeing the opportunity in all the difficulties a Trump presidency presents.
A lot of potential difficulties have arisen since Trump began his campaign, and in the past 10 days, some of those difficulties have become very clear and very real through many executive orders. However, I’m going to argue that there’s also a good aspect to all of this. I’m attempting to be an optimist seeing opportunity. Trump’s rhetoric throughout his campaign has brought more attention and awareness to issues that already existed, but maybe weren’t focused on, and in this lies the opportunity.
The environment, just to focus on one example, has been in trouble for a LONG time, and many people haven’t been aware of how bad it is. Even those that did know thought that things were getting better to some extent, and that a slow change was better than nothing. Now, following Trump’s continual assertion that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese, his restoration of plans to continue building the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines, and now the gag order on the EPA and the National Park Service, people are realizing that change for the better needs to happen. Instead, we are going back to a time where science and technology are magic, and magic is scary, so we need to shut all of that down and choose what to believe based on what we want to be true (aka “alternative facts“).
Now that we know just how hard we have to fight to improve the environment, it has become a larger issue. There are alternative social media accounts for the National Park Service, NASA, EPA, and HHS, among others. While none of these accounts are official, they are certainly getting their message out. There is a People’s Climate March already planned for the end of April, an intersectional movement standing up for climate justice and the civil rights of all. I’ve heard more about the environment than usual in the past week, which is saying a lot for someone with a father who works for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
The environment is just one example. In regards to other issues, I have seen many protest marches planned within the next few months, including a March for Science, an Immigrants March, and a National Pride March. It’s likely that even more are being planned now. In the meantime, there are other things we can do to stay positive and have our voices be heard. The Women’s March has a 10 Actions 100 Days campaign to help guide those who are wondering what they can do now. Making these difficulties into opportunities doesn’t even have to be anything big and loud. It can simply be engaging in conversation with people who have a different point of view. Whatever it takes to see “the opportunity in every difficulty” and try to stay positive about the place our nation is at. It may be the best way to make a positive difference. For once, I’m trying to be the optimist.
Featured image credit: Kyllr Horton, CC