I don’t know about you, but when I am down I turn to words. And I have not been this down in a long while.
If you are not down, that’s okay, but I’m struggling. I’m struggling to understand my country. That isn’t to say that I don’t love it, or that I don’t wish with my entire soul that I understood it. I’m simply stating a fact: when I look at half of America, I see something I cannot recognize.
So let’s talk.
What happened to you, America? What happened to the land of the brave? You used to fight demagogues like the one you just elected, and die for the rights he stands against––freedom of press, of protest, of religion, of freedom. When did you become such a fearful, unwelcoming tundra? Afraid of Muslims. Afraid of gay rights. Afraid of women in power. Afraid of immigrants––without whom I have no idea what most of us would eat. Afraid of losing your guns, which you horde to protect you from everything else you are afraid of.
Are you not saddened by that? Or more importantly, do you not realize how acting upon these insecurities to such a degree may make you feel safer, but only serves to increase the real need for fear in others? We have so little to be afraid of in this country, and yet, selfishly and dangerously, we let fear guide us.
And this fear harms so many sons and daughters who, no matter their color or nationality, are still all born with soft skin and joyful cries. Because so long as fear drives our country, their parents will struggle to keep them safe from harm or prejudice. If you are a parent, or a human, that should crush your feelings. It leaves mine devastated.
The world is changing, but it has always changed, and more to the point, it will always change––legislation cannot stop it. Change isn’t just our only constant, it is nature’s design. Animals adapt. Bacteria adapt. Fungi adapt. When something doesn’t adapt, it dies out. This isn’t speculation, this is science. Stubbornly preserving the country as you wish it was, isn’t just delusional, it’s an active step towards obsolescence, the last gasp of something so lacking in bravery as to suffocate from its absence, taking the world down with it.
You cannot circumvent the laws of change. And our constitution is built to encourage it. The laws of change state that competition is healthy, adaptation is king, but power is always checked and balanced. Symbiosis is the closest thing any one person can have to power, and Donald Trump is, as of right now, represents everything but symbiosis.
Symbiosis starts with empathy––to put ourselves in the shoes of those we affect and live for moment, not to understand how they can help us, but to understand how we can help each other. Symbiosis is to actively imagine being shouted at by a passerby because you’re brown skinned, or talked over because you’re a woman, or told to “speak English” by a stranger while you talk to your daughter in Spanish. Imagine it, really imagine it. Feel what that’s like. Then make the next decision in your life based upon what that’s like, and how you can help.
I have put myself in your shoes and am overwhelmed by the fear. Where is the bravery? Bravery is no longer something people do because it’s right. For many, bravery is what they need just to leave the house, to speak another language in public, to wear a hijab, to simply exist in the skin with which they were born. That is bravery, absolutely, but bravery shouldn’t be required to just be yourself. If so, this is no longer an essay on fear or bravery, but the eulogy of our dearly departed America.
And though our history is certainly filled with hate, our future doesn’t have to be. We can reject these sentiments, be brave, and welcome change with open arms. We are better than that, we are braver. Because the brave do not have to be the minority to the fearful. Fear is an emotion, bravery is a choice. We can choose to be brave. And I believe that for our country, for our citizens, for our freedom, for our children, we must. If Trump is to be our president, he needs to see that we are still brave, and we demand he use our bravery, not our fear, to lead us.