The election is over, and many of us are approaching today differently based on our own set of personal beliefs. I've said quite a bit about the election over the past year, so it's no surprise that I have something to say today.
To my kids--J, who cried this morning and whispered that he was scared; K, who meekly asked me if we'd ever have a woman for a president:
Some of your classmates will be scared today. Comfort them and be kind to them today. Look for ways to be kind--that's how you can fight hatred. Try not to worry or be scared; it's okay to feel this way, but remember--we serve a God who is bigger than our government. There will probably be lots of talk on the playground or at lunch today about our new president. I don't want you to talk politics with your friends. I want you to be a kid and do kid things today. And don't forget to always be kind even when others aren't.
To my former students:
Remember all the social justice work and talk we did in class? This moment is what you've been training for. Don't forget Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s four steps for non-violent direct action (par. 6). Don't forget about the Anti-Defamation League's Pyramid of Hate and Pyramid of Alliance.
My former freshmen: Don't forget about your social action projects. You were capable then of doing positive things in your community, and you are still capable now. Find a need in your community and then do something to make a positive change.
My former composition students: Remember when we discussed rhetoric? Remember when we talked about crafting logical, sound arguments? Use this. Speak wisely. Find a way to build bridges with words even over the most troubling of waters.
My former Burke students: You weigh most heavily on my heart today because you were the most diverse group of students I ever taught. Consequently, if our president carries out some of what he says he'll do, many of you will likely be directly impacted. Know that I will fight for you now like I fought for you when I was your teacher. Remember when we talked about white privilege? I know I've got it...I'm painfully aware of it, but I promise to use it to fight for those of you who are marginalized. Voice your concern, but be smart about it.
To people rejoicing at this morning's news:
I don't want to fight with you, and I don't want you to convince me that everything will be okay and that Trump will make America great again. I do want to find a way to work together. We can't work together effectively with the same inflammatory rhetoric that fueled Trump's campaign. We can't work together when you say things like, "I'm waiting for all the people who said they would leave the country if Trump won...well he won...when are you leaving?" I woke up to some hurtful and divisive comments from Trump supporters gloating their victory. Please remember: People, who have opinions just like you, are legitimately terrified today. We may have differences of opinion, but the thing we have in common is our humanity. For the love, please remember your humanity and be willing to do the tough work of exercising empathy.
To those of us still in a state of shock:
We've got a choice to make: Do we ride on the coattails of fear, or do we shake the dust off our tired feet and push forward? Don't forget about all the social justice heroes who also walked roads lined with opposition. May logic and love and empathy and kindness be our traveling companions.
To Christian believers:
We know that our time here is temporary. Let's be smart in our interactions with others in the coming days, weeks, and months. Seek opportunities to build bridges where there are none and to love first and ask questions later. May we be salt and light not for our own messages but the message of Jesus. Don't act like Trump is our next savior or that Clinton would've been because when we put our trust in people or human institutions, we will always be disappointed.
A friend of mine posted this quote today, and I think it's a good reminder: "The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong." --Laura Ingalls Wilder