We can still make a difference.
I'll admit: I woke up this morning feeling powerless, frightened and disappointed.
Despite political opinions, rhetoric and agendas, I am still dumbfounded that our nation has elected a misogynistic, selfish, petty man-child. In some ways, I do not blame him. He took advantage of the system and the people's fears and anger and has managed to garner enough votes to claim the win through the electoral college, not through popular vote. One of the biggest disappointments of the outcome of November 8th is having another white male of privilege in a position of power.
Would I prefer to have a qualified female president or at least one who didn't refer to grabbing us women by the pussy? Hell, yeah, but now is not the time to look to what could have been done differently or assign blame. Or to look for ways to escape - BTW, Canada immigration sites crashed last night. Those that feel the need to flee the states are the ones who need to stay here the most. We cannot improve the state of our country from abroad. We need to be a part of the change we'd like to see here, in our towns, in our communities.
One, I hope that Donald doesn't act on the many ridiculous ideas he used to win the election. Please, don't build a wall. Please, don't kick out Muslim Americans. Please, don't repeal Roe vs. Wade. Instead, please, listen to your critics with grace. Please, allow American interests to guide your policies, not those of your pocketbook or foreign powers. Please, be a president for all Americans.
Two, I hope that we as a country can unite and begin healing the divisive polarization caused by this election. If we want to see changes, we have to start by forgiving each other for our differing opinions and understand that decisions are often made out of fear, poor education, family and cultural influence and many other things that do not necessarily mean that they are bad people or incapable of growing or changing themselves.
What can I do, as an ordinary American?
This past weekend, in almost superb perfect timing, I visited Washington, D.C. for the first time. While there for a wedding of a dear friend, my husband and I scurried around town during our short remaining hours to see as much as we could. Sure, it was neat to see the White House and to visit the Air and Space Museum (#pilotswife), what moved me most was how many people in the National Mall, were, from my observation, seemed to be immigrants or visiting from other countries. The melting pot of beautiful foreign languages and garb was again alive and well in this space. People of all nations, religions and traditions came to show respect to and explore the capital of a nation that was built on freedom for all.
Amidst many people with selfie sticks, in The Lincoln Memorial, I stood and reread the still powerful words of Honest Abe inscribed from that famous address:
A NEW NATION CONCEIVED IN LIBERTY AND DEDICATED TO THE PROPOSITION THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL
Those words, which rang out 153 years and 10 days ago, are a reminder to us still. We have come a long way in that time to improve the lives of others, but our journey is not over to be the hallmark for equality in this world. As a nation, we have spent many decades policing the transgressions of inequality across the seas, but have forgotten to look in the mirror.
My challenge to myself and to you
Do not the passion you have felt during this election cycle end today. Take that passion and parlay into involvement. In more ways than one, I believe in the power of education. It has always been my goal with my business and in my life to pass knowledge onto others, especially those less fortunate than myself. I am lucky; I was born a white woman to a loving family and grew up, not wealthy by any means, but in a community, where white collar suburb tax dollars went a long way towards my public education. Not everyone is so lucky.
What do I plan to do about it? I have found some great volunteer opportunities in my area, where my skills as a businesswoman can benefit others. I have been so focused on growing my business the last few years that I forgot one of the main reasons why I wanted to be an entrepreneur in the first place: my passion for corporate social responsibility. Becoming a a profitable company that gave back to society as well was something I became passionate about long before I thought of starting my first business.
Another challenge to myself is to read more. At the Library of Congress, surrounded by works of literature both epic and silly, the trove of 2600 books in Thomas Jefferson's library struck me a feat of understanding. His personal copy of the Koran was out on loan for research purposes. To truly comprehend our differences as people and overcome them in respect and freedom, we have to learn more about what we do not understand and especially those things that we fear. Read more, on both sides of the argument. On my departure, I grabbed the list of Top 40 books that shaped America, a list produced in 2012, of which, I've sadly only read 4. Granted I've seen the movie version of several more, but still, this is abysmal, and I enjoy reading thoroughly. Who wants to read more with me?
Glass half full analysis: let us take this shocking change in our political system to focus on what really matters, our ability to see the world as hopeful place, full of opportunities. We live in a remarkable age where women are on the cusp of being major influences every aspect of American living: science, education, reform, human rights, technology, politics. It doesn't take large sums of capital to start your own business. You do not have to have a husband to buy a house or have a family. Women do not have to take on gender traditional roles if they do not want to anymore. Get involved, find your tribe of women supporters, get involved, give back to your community and let's stop bitching and make America great still.
Best of all, women are capable of making the best of a shitty situation and still get shit done. After all, we've been doing it for generations.