What I Will Say To My Kids When They Wake Up In This America
We are all in one sort of mourning or another right now, I think. The general election of 2016, whatever the outcome might be, has shown us that there remains a great, wide divide between us that has yet to be bridged. As adults, this election has been draining. As a child, I imagine it must be confusing. Regardless of the outcome of the election, here is what I want to say to my kids when they wake up in this America tomorrow.
I want to talk to them about a few things. First, I want them to understand about compassion. No matter who wins this election, whether it will be Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, the subject of compassion is an important element of this election. As Donald Trump paraded a platform of hate and isolation over and over again, with his racist comments about the Hispanic and the Black community, his sexism, and his xenophobia, I worry about what a Trump win might say to my sons. I worry that the priceless commodity of compassion, of empathy, of actually concerning yourself with the state of every human on this planet, will seem utterly worthless if Trump wins. I want them to understand that sometimes fear and anger can mask that part of our human heart that genuinely wants the best for each other. And I want them to understand that those frightened, fractured souls deserve their compassion too. That simply because a man managed to bully his way into the White House, doesn't mean that bullying is ever, ever the way. I want to explain to them that compassion is a gift we give ourselves as much as anyone else, and judging someone by their public success is no measure of their personal happiness.
If Hillary Clinton manages to become the first female President of the United States, I want them to celebrate. Not simply because of what this says for women and glass ceilings and sexism, but because the country decided to choose someone who was qualified to become president. Someone with 30 years of experience putting up with whatever nonsense we, the people, decided to throw at her feet. I want to talk to them about the subject of likability and just how wrong it can be. Because if she wins, perhaps that means we will stop punishing women for not making personal charm their top priority, and stop asking them to apologize for ambition. Or tenacity. Or drive.
I want to talk to them about the delicacy of defeat. I want them to see what defeat might feel like and see that this, too, shall pass. That the way we manage defeat says a hell of a lot more about who we are as humans than the way we celebrate our own success.
That defeat must come with an addendum though and it is this; we don't give up. Not with so much at stake. We vote, and we volunteer, and we engage. We do not sit back when we have lost and say, "Well, I tried." You try and you try and you try again. You feel and you believe in what you know in your gullet is right. Defeat is not the end. Life goes on.
And so must you.