Now I know that it’s already been two weeks since we found out that Donald Trump has been elected as the next president of the United States of America. Although it’s been a substantial amount of time since then, I’ve decided to share my two cents worth.
Although I am not American (I am, in fact, Australian), I have seen the impact that the results of this election has had on many other countries, including my own. Every single person I know was horrified at the reality of the situation, and I am too.
I am terrified for the LGBTQI+ people of America.
I am terrified for people of colour.
I am terrified for Muslims.
I am terrified for Women.
I am terrified for all the ‘victims of Trump’.
Some people tell me that he’s had a change of heart, some people tell me that he’s not that bad. But it seems that his followers haven’t had a change of heart. Hundreds of his followers have taken his election as permission to partake in vicious actions of hatred, including physical and verbal assault. Today, I won’t be rambling on about how terrified this situation makes me, how people just like me are experiencing much higher levels if assault than before the election. But, I will be reflecting on what needs to be done in the aftermath, particularly by those who are unhappy with the results, such as Clinton supporters, as well as any other voters and non-voters, no matter their stance.
I’ve seen many protests take place in the United States, and while this is a great way to show your discontent and solidarity, it tends to divide the country more and blocks the exchange of compassion and understanding, particularly between supporters of the two opposing parties.
So, how CAN we be empowered in the wake of Trump’s win?
First, get your head in the right place. Identify your emotions and really feel them. By letting your emotions free, you’re stopping them from bottling up and possibly causing you to act irrationally or act out of anger. If you feel you need it, seek support from family, friends and psychological experts. Your mental health us a priority alongside your physical health and safety. If you have the ability to, please support others, mentally AND physically. The more we can support others, the better off we will ALL be. Support can be even as simple as just talking about how everyone feels in a group of friends or comforting any worries some may hold.
Second, everyone should aim to be tolerant of EVERYONE else. Listen to people from different sides of the situation and be open to other opinions without putting up brick walls and blocking our ears. Listen and resist the urge to judge. Listen with an open heart and an open mind. Be forgiving and kind to all, especially difficult individuals. Send love to them, because love and understanding is much more effective at healing and uniting a country/society than hate and intolerance.
Another thing you can do, which runs along the same wavelength, is to speak kindly; not only can you be kind, but outwardly express it, including in your words. You could even preach kindness to those around you, challenge them to follow your example and allow the kindness bug to spread.
You can even take it up a level and respond to rudeness with kindness. I know, it can be difficult to do this when someone is rude or nasty, it’s hard to fight off the urge to retaliate and even just ignore them. But by retaliating with kindness, it’s surprising for the receiver who was probably expecting hate back. Even if it doesn’t, others may see this and revaluate their behaviour. We are aspirational beings and by acting this way, you may cause others to model this behaviour after you.
I recently visited a Buddhist temple in my area for my studies. On this visit, my group and I were spoken to by a Buddhist Monk about a range of topics including meditation, mindfulness, Buddhism, kindness and having a positive mindset. Within this talk, he recalled a recent experience of his. He was driving across town to attend an event (perhaps a conference, I can’t quite remember) when he narrowly escaped a minor car accident during peak hour when traffic was slow. Although the monk was not at fault, the driver got out of his vehicle and began to shout at the monk through his window. The monk turned to the man and just smiled at him with pure, genuine happiness and kindness. The monk got out of his car and just looked at the man in the eyes and laughed from his heart. The other man, who was just furious a moment ago began to calm and then smiled. A moment later, he was laughing with the monk. This monk’s kindness and joy was so genuine, it was able to change this man’s entire mindset. The man then thanked the monk, apologising for being so mad and drove away. This just proves that kindness can really change anything. It is infectious and can create a positive change in the world. It will also allow you to have both better physical and mental health.
Thirdly, be who you are and embrace your individuality. Be loud and proud (where it is safe to do so) about whatever matter to you. Whether it be that you are LGBTQI+, a person of colour, a woman, a Muslim, etc. or an ally of any of these groups. Whether you agree with America’s current electoral system. Whoever you are and whatever you believe, be proud whilst respectful of others. Take a stand for what you believe in! We all have an inner strength driven by our passions; believe in it, because it will help you be yourself. Live your truth, live fearlessly and live without regret.
Although you may protest and/or create change through your own mediums (such as visual art, performance, research and study, writing, raising funds, to help others, campaigning, etc.) and although you may fight, hard and fair against the inevitable of a Trump presidency, sometimes you just have to accept change and roll with the punches, spreading love and understanding in its wake.
In the end, my point is to fight with kindness, love and understanding. Stand up for yourself and others and even more: Remember that this, too, shall pass and once it does, we need to work together to rebuild society.
Trump, I have faith that you can turn this situation around and do the RIGHT thing for all Americans. I pray that you lead with kindness and understanding for all.