I am trying to find the words to explain to my children what happened, to tell them where we will go from here, as a family and as a nation.
When Trump first began to garner support before the primary, I made the hasty knee-jerk statement in front of my family that if Trump won the Presidency we would look at alternative places to live. I told them I did not want to live in a country with a fear-based mission defined by misogyny and racism. The kids heard me and have periodically asked over the course of the last 6 months, “Are we going to move?”
Since then, I have repeatedly and cautiously told them I didn’t think we would leave after all. I told them that while I understood why some people would choose to go, we would probably stay here because there is work to be done.
As parents, we want to keep our kids safe from anything that will hurt them—from monsters literal and figurative. I want to tell them that we will keep them safe, but I can’t. Not really. We can try and protect our kids, but we cannot keep them safe from what’s happening, because what’s happening right now is not safe.
In his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize speech, Elie Wiesel said, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
This is not the time for silence.
Some of us have had the privilege of feeling more safe than others, but it’s that kind of self-centered false security that helped to get us to this place. I can’t lie to my children or give them reassurances. I can’t tell them that the people we love are going to be safe, especially when so many are at this moment afraid for their safety because of the color of their skin or where they are from or what they believe or whom they love. I can’t tell my kids that any of us will be safe or that it’s going to be ok. Now is the time for honesty, for looking in the mirror, and for looking around at the people in our circles.
This is what I’m going to tell my children:
We have to stay.
We are stronger together: immigrant, Muslim, Native, trans, gay, Black, Mexican, disabled, queer, feminist, refugee, and all the rest who make up the patchwork of this country, this community, this family.
To threaten one of us, is to threaten all of us, and we cannot stand by and let that happen.
We have to learn from this.
We have to listen, to bear witness, to really pay attention.
We have to add our voices to those who have been shouting for justice and equality.
We have to amplify the cries of those being silenced.
We have to stand alongside those who have never had the luxury of being complacent and comfortable.
We have to hold up those who are being knocked down.
We have to help to heal those who are being hurt.
We have to love one another and defend the right of others to love whomever they choose.
I will tell my children that yes, Trump won this election, but not everyone voted for Trump. And we need to take time to understand why those who did chose to do so.
Most of all, I will tell them that we can still keep working for a better world, and if we are honest and humble, creative and compassionate and brave, we will find ways. Together.