I’m writing this open letter to unfurl some things that have been on my mind for the last week. I hope you find something in this that resonates with you and helps to keep you going.
First, things are going to get better. This will sound unbelievable, especially in this new and uncertain time where Nazis are coming out of the ash pile, Betsy DeVos is destined to ruin public education, and Trump is calling any judge who opposes his Muslim ban, essentially, an unpatriotic American. But things will get better. In some ways, things are already better.
I knew, deep down, that I was not alone in my hope for humanity, but these last few weeks have seen my hopes surface. People are welcoming refugees at airports, marching on the streets for rights, and banding together to call Congress, sign petitions, and write letters about the issues that matter to the people.
It can be easy to think you’re in a vacuum. That you’re the only one who cares enough to try. Trust me, I get it. I live in an area where some jackasses still literally fly the Trump flag (it’s sad to me that these people fly these instead of the American flag, but I digress).
But I sincerely hope, and think, that people will come together to make positive change. We will not be the frightened masses stuck in crumbling factories the president makes us out to be.
This is 2017. We can sign petitions, organize marches, and call our Senators and Representatives in less time than it takes us to make lunch.
Thank you, Internet, for making that happen. Yes, it makes it possible for the neo-Nazis to organize, but it also makes organizing a larger counter-protest possible. We already saw it in Whitefish, MO.
It takes one person to get an idea. It takes one person to do the right thing, whatever is in their power to do so. And with large amounts of people doing the right thing, change. Can. Happen. And it WILL happen.
Second – as someone who has punched and has been punched, I don’t see the big deal about punching a Neo-Nazi in the face.
“But freedom of speech!” If you want to talk about why you voted for Trump, in regards to something like wanting to fix health care, I’m happy to debate you. If you are advocating for the murder of millions of people just because of their skin color or because you fear or hate them, you deserve a punch to the mouth.
A punch is a wake-up call. It is not attempted murder, or the end of the world.
Third, no matter where you fall in regards to your political leanings, I encourage you to talk to people who are not on the same page as you. (Except for communists and neo-Nazis. In my personal experience both groups are insufferable and don’t want discussions. They only want to be right).
I’ve spoken with quite a few people who say they’re excited to see Trump as president, and I’ve asked them why, and did my best to listen, without judgment. If you are reading this and voted for Trump, I encourage you to talk with someone who did not vote the same way as you.
No matter what, though, you have to listen. Do NOT talk over the person. DON’T do the thing my former doctor did to me. Remember that you are humans who are uneasy about the future. Listen, let the conversation flow naturally. Make sure you keep the discussion to just about you and the person you are talking to. Don’t try to use fear or emotion to make the other person see your point of view (again, like my former doctor tried to do).
DO engage with the person on equal footing. Again, don’t do what my doctor did and take advantage of a person-in-need to push your ideologies. It makes you a grade-A cunt.
DO respect if the person you are talking to says, “I think we should talk about other things right now.”
But in these times, we need to get comfortable talking about politics with people. I know the joke is to say “there are three things you don’t discuss in polite company: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” (That last one might actually be sex, but I don’t know.) But the only way to move forward now is to get comfortable talking about them. And the only way to get comfortable with politics is to discuss them openly.
I am hopeful for the future. And I will still have that hope, like Pandora’s box in my hands. Don’t forget you have your own Pandora’s box.
Thank you for reading.
You. Are. Awesome.
P.S. I’m going to shamelessly promote my podcast here, Extra ClothesPins. Check it out to find out what Congress is up to, how to contact them, and what you can do to make your voice heard.