Today is Nov. 9, the day after the Presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Last night, I barely slept. I went to bed about 10:30 p.m. because I had to get up early to catch a flight. Still, I tossed and turned, my stomach numb, my heart heavy with sadness, fear. I wondered why and how so many people could vote for someone who promotes hatred, who divides people to conquer them, who lies and bullies, who seems not to care about our democracy or the reputation of our country.
At 2 a.m., I woke and checked my phone. It confirmed what I already suspected: Trump won. As I tried to sleep, my brain ran full time. What does this mean? The columnists and the pundits will have much to say today and tomorrow and next week and next month.
After a horrible night, I decided to move on as best I could. I started a list of what I was concerned about and what I personally might do to overcome those concerns. How could I find the silver lining in a very dark cloud? I shared my list with my husband and my children to start a conversation, to gain perspective, and to compel ourselves to action. I reached out to the leadership at some of the organizations I am part of and suggested that we do the same.
At the the top of my list is better understanding the complex emotions that drove people to vote for Trump. Some are certainly racists and bullies, but I think that is the minority. Some may have simply hated Hillary Clinton. But I feel there is something more, something deeper. Unless we understand this and make changes to address it, the divisions in our country will only grow. And then I listed my concerns: education; immigrants; health care; reproductive rights; climate change and the environment; racism and hatred; disenfranchisement; media; and international policy. In each area, I wrote down my thoughts and then listed one, two, or three things I could do.
I know I cannot personally solve everything. The election and its rhetoric have created deep and painful wounds. The silver lining comes from the actions we take going forward. Our values, work, passions and commitments to each other still matter and can still make a difference. I truly believe that steps – large and small – by many people can help us heal.