The sun came up this morning, piercing my despair. My heart is broken, but I will not give up. We can never give up.
As I watched the coverage of the election last night, I heard the pundits struggle to make sense of what was happening. I heard people lamenting the fate of so many of us, the fear of an America walled off from the rest of the world. An America that does not, will not, embrace the diversity of its people. The anger of a people who feel that their country does not value them and will not protect them. A gaping wound has been exposed.
But amongst the rhetoric, the explanations and justifications, the finger pointing and denial, something felt wrong. Something was missing.
Only a partial truth was being spoken.
Many years ago I went to see Lily Tomlin’s Search for Intelligent Signs of Life in the Universe. As her characters spoke about the power of women through stories of the fight for the right to vote, burn their bras and shatter the glass ceiling, I remember being surprised, not by what she was saying, but by the fact that this was even a thing.
I grew up in a family of powerful women. My mother was strong. I adored my grandmothers and great grandmothers. I was raised to believe that I could do anything. That we are equal to men. That we could, we would, rule the world.
Of course women were powerful, I thought to myself as I sat in that theatre. Of course we could do anything. Of course. Of course. Of course. And I naively marched through 57 years of life believing that everyone else thought that way too.
Shame on me.
It is time we looked in the mirror. It is time we ask ourselves why, instead of talking about solutions to our country's challenges, we spent months and months talking about one candidate’s emails while the other candidate’s horrific treatment of women all but disappeared almost as soon as it was uncovered. Why intimidating and threatening behavior went unmentioned. Why lies were tolerated and repeated. Why gender bashing was accepted.
Shame on us.
This morning I am struggling to accept what I have not wanted to see. Hidden in the rhetoric, among the real issues and the red herrings of this election lies the ugly truth. We still have a long way to go.
My friend and I sat huddled together, sipping coffee and speaking in hushed funeral tones. She is a strong, compassionate, gay, married woman whom I admire deeply. We spoke of our heartache and our feelings of despair. We shed tears of sadness and hugged each other tight. We aren’t where we thought we were, we said. There is work to be done, we said. As we sat together, our hearts broken, we promised each other that we would continue to fight.
And I was reminded of the words of the great Dr. Maya Angelou:
“Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
We must never give up.