I guess we’ll take a short break from the trivialities of my lovelife to address a more pressing issue.
Anyone who knows me knows my politics. I’m not the guy who will yell at you ad nauseum or post whatever relevant political meme is up at the moment. I believe in what I do, how I do it, and why I do it. Last night was obviously a blow to ideals that I believe in.
These are ideals that my parents raised me to believe in. Ideals that they moved to America for. I’ve been schooled in public institutions my entire life, and those are the ideals that my teachers instilled in me as well. I’ve always believed that America is an idea, and being blessed with amazing history teachers (Rest in Peace, Mr. Bartlet) , I was privileged enough to learn how that idea was fostered, how it was forged, and ultimately, how it has survived for over 200 years. Democracy is an imperfect system, but it’s the best one that we have. It survives on an informed electorate and rational behavior, two things that I severely question nowadays, but that is the ideal.
I’m writing this as I’m reading statements of hysteria and despair, “I told you so’s” and gloating. I’m even talking to someone in tears at this moment. As much as you want to laugh, cry, or say you’re moving to Canada, that’s fine. Feel how you need to feel for the next few hours or so.
Then get the fuck back up.
Yeah, you got your ass beat, but there are literally millions of people around the world who would die for the right to vote in an election, even if they lost. You don’t get to quit and whine because things didn’t turn out quite the way you wanted them to go. You can’t cry that the world is ending, and then do nothing about it. If that’s what you truly believe, then it’s your responsibility as a citizen to take a part in preventing that. If you’re afraid that the society and country that you belong to has become unrecognizable, then you owe it to yourself to make it your own again. Cutting and running is cowardice, complaint without action is complacency.
I still remember the first time I was called a ‘chink’. I didn’t really even know how to react. I think I laughed because, hell, I didn’t even know that was a thing. I was much more affected when my friend who wore a hijab was told to “go back where she came from”. To be frank, I’m a little sick of being told that Asians are the ‘model minority’. In the days to come, I know that I’ll remind myself to stick my neck out for those who feel targeted. It’s a scary thought, to put yourself at risk, especially when you know that you could be okay by keeping your head down.
But, something I learned last night, is that voting is not enough. I think of how my Muslim friends must feel this morning. I think of how my Hispanic friends will have to see this man who called them criminals and rapists be their leader. I think of my LGBTQ friends who will now have to wonder about how their lives might be torn apart, day-by-day. I think about the women in my life, and more importantly the girls that I coach, seeing someone who values them as nothing more than objects, sit in the highest office in the land. It fills me with disgust, shame, and anger.
And then I get up, and tell myself to do more. To involve myself more. To be a better example. To be more compassionate. I won’t let those feelings of disgust, shame, and anger control me, like it has controlled so many.
At the end of the day, my parents taught me to love this country. I still remember the day after September 11th, they sent me to school wearing a flag bandana on my head. Usually my Mom would’ve snatched something that obnoxious off my head, but on that day, she didn’t. In some small way, she wanted me to know what this country means to her, and that moment has never left me.
I’ve rambled a bit much, but the long and short of it is, quit yer bitchin’. Midterms are in two years, the next presidential is in four. If you need me, I’ll be with you. Hell, even if you don’t need me, I’ll be with you. Most importantly, if I need to misbehave to fight for the ideals I believe in and safeguard the people I love, well then, you may certainly expect that to happen.
But last night, in case you missed it, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American legislator in American history. She arrived from Kenya by way of a refugee camp, proudly wears a hijab as a practicing Muslim and will be representing her district in Minnesota. Ain’t that a hell of a thing?
Tomorrow is a new day. And so is the next, and the next.