Despite my generally pessimistic tendencies, I did not expect the election to go as awfully as it did. My first choice didn’t make it far enough but I was standing by Hillary and ready to see her campaign through until the very end. But “the end” that came was far from what I’d imagined. Even today, I am still shell shocked. Thinking about all the hard-won liberties—only just recently received—now on the cusp of being taken away, the surge in racially motivated bullying and intimidation by white supremacists, the pending nomination of Supreme Court judges – it all makes me sick with horror.
All over social media, people are sharing the discovery that their parents/siblings/friends voted for the one candidate who hates them. Very real and painful questions are being asked: how can you vote against my healthcare, marriage, religion, my very self and still claim to love me? Has your hatred for “others” always outweighed your respect and regard for me?
Basically, the world feels like it’s falling down around my ears. It’s hard to go about day to day activities as if the last 48 hours haven’t happened – or more to the point – as if the events of the last few days don’t and will not have a significant impact on many facets of my life. Everyone I know is frightened, most are resigned, some are looking for ways to make positive changes, whether through protesting (too late) what’s happening now or getting ready for the 2020 election. All of this is hard to process. And it’s hard to work.
Looking back on the last few months, it seems that, in general, life is conspiring against my ability to work. Which just goes to show that life (if we’re lucky) doesn’t stop, tragedy doesn’t end, and work doesn’t stop needing to be done. The work is difficult to do with the horrors taking shape in our world, stretching it beyond endurance to let us see through the thin veneer of pleasantries and everyday exchanges what people in our lives really think about us. But the work needs to be done.
This work demands attention because it’s the thing inside us that longs to gush out into the world and express our fears and frustrations, our wishes for better, our delusions about our neighbors and about our selves. Always the work. I’m grateful for it because it gives me the space to rage and to reflect. To wish and to express on the page what I feel. Or don’t feel.
I haven’t slept well in days but the work still knocks at the back of my scull, pulling me out of sweat-twisted sheets and into coffee shops where I see the ones who want my rights taken away, the ones who use “great” as a synonym for “white.” I hear these nostalgics. I see their flags. I smell their fetid victory.
Today, I woke up to signs of protest and resistance, and this helps with the shock. I have my pen, and we have this future we’ve helped to shape. Now, it’s time to get to WORK and create something better.
**Fiona is a working writer and sometime optimist. Find her online at www.FionaZedde.com.