An Open Letter to Anyone that is Afraid

As I witnessed Donald Trump’s inauguration, I struggled to find a silver lining that made me feel the slightest bit optimistic. Over the course of his campaign, and the chaos that ensued across America, I only ever felt anger and pessimism. As the marching band played, I desperately searched to find a different way to look at all of the negativity, and then it hit me; that anger was, and is, an opportunity for optimism.

President Trump taking the Oath of Office

How? How can a racist, a misogynist, an inherently hateful human being make me a better person? The answer? I have always been against racism, against misogyny, and against hate. However, now, the difference is that instead of being a passive supporter of those values, I feel the need to take action. Previously, I would denounce those ills internally and subconsciously judge their existence, but now I choose to consciously go into battle against them.

Without hate there cannot be love, without darkness there cannot be light, and without Donald Trump I would be painfully unaware of the storm of injustice that rages on, long past when people, including myself, assumed it had been lost to history. Terrors that we never dreamed of are now a clear reality, having reared their ugly heads and made themselves known. Racism is a reality, sexism is a reality, and deep rooted hate is, you guessed it, a reality.  Now, I see that more clearly than I ever have. We can no longer claim plausible deniability against the existence of such terrible realities, but that gives us, the American people, a unique position to be able to oppose them. I was able to look within myself and find biases and behaviors that I needed to change.  Trump is an indicator of all that is wrong, but this will show us what can be made right.  It’s not enough to silently turn away from the face of injustice and discrimination, we must fight against it. Now, we know exactly what and who we must fight against. Trump has allowed my diffuse morals to be packaged into a rather influential ideology. I know myself better than I ever have before and fortunately, the self I now know is the best it can be.

This upheaval of an election has made me something else. Without Trump I would not call myself an activist, I would not call myself an active feminist, I would not call myself a political force to be reckoned with, and I most certainly would not consider myself to be anyone’s hope for the future. This would not be because I ever opposed these things or thought they were impossible, but because I never realized how important they were to me until they were threatened. These were all roles that were opened up to me to take for myself because I had something to work against. Now, I hope to continue to be all of those things and express them as best as I possibly can. I am proud of each and every label that I have given myself over the course of this process in its entirety. I am all of these things, not because of the inherent qualities and values I possess, but because I feel inclined to act in their name. 

Trump protesters march in Washington D.C.

This election brought issues to surface that had for so long been buried by indifference. Now, people increasingly see the need to get involved. The number of women pursuing degrees in politics, government, and social justice has increased. Implicit bias has been shown to be a very real and very frightening societal fixture, and droves of young people were made very aware of the influence they have – no matter how small the action may seem. Donald Trump has given us purpose, he has united us behind a common goal, and we are now able to mobilize together. People care more deeply than they ever have before, which has moved us from a period of reflection to expression. We have seen this with the waves of women’s movements that have brought people together from across the globe and across competing identities. There is always the possibility for beauty to rise, even out of the most terrible of situations. Fear incites fear if you let it, but incites hope if you make it. 

It is vital that we pay attention to Trump and see the issues that need work, for they will be the very areas that he tries to manipulate in accordance to his own flawed views. If he works against Obamacare, we shall make efforts toward accessible health care; efforts that will likely be far more influential than if there was no threat at all. If Planned Parenthood is in danger, we must move to give women access to those services. If Trump makes moves, we shall make countermoves, and these very actions are what will define who we are and what we stand for. I take that as a challenge to make what I do important, to make what I do matter, and no one but I can accomplish that.

I still do not quite understand how individuals can possibly be led to believe that their personal preferences should have any impact on the lives of those that will never affect them. One woman’s abortion does not make the least bit of difference on someone else’s pregnancy. Two women/men getting married does not in anyway interfere with somebody else’s heterosexual union. If we begin to place legality on choice, there will be no choice left to make. Differences do not indicate a match to be won, they indicate a need for tolerance and the realization that they are rarely mutually exclusive. Again, I do not understand this mysterious desire for homogeneity and conformity. With Trump as President, I very well may be able to better understand what mental impasse prevents people from tolerance, which would allow me to aid them in getting past it. 

Donald Trump has given me a lot to think about, but most importantly he has made me angry, and that has given me a job to do. Impossible, unbearable, and unthinkable have become possible, bearable, and thinkable. We must do everything we can to make that shift happen for the right reasons. The only action worthy of making is that which not only exposes, but opposes the inhumane present. We cannot accept the present as an unchanging and permanent order. There is always room for positive change and Trump has unintentionally given rise to a new generation of heroes that will bring about exactly that.  

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – J.K Rowling