Now, more than ever, we need to stand with a single message to move our country forward.
A lot of people are expressing concerns about what type of country we will become now that Donald Trump has been elected to the presidency, and given his extreme rhetoric during the campaign, that doesn’t really come as a surprise.
In answer, I would say to have faith in our nation. We’ve survived two world wars and even a civil war. We’ve survived a Great Depression and countless recessions. We’ve survived race wars and riots over civil rights. In fact, throughout history each new test has brought out the best in us, hardened our resolve to do right by others and strengthened our unity as a nation dedicated to making our country – and the world – a better place not only for us, but for generations yet to come.
In 2008 when Barack Obama was first elected, we spend a lot of time congratulating ourselves on how far we had come in electing our first African America president. But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would say that racism in America died the day Obama took office. In fact, in many ways, it intensified.
Gay-bashing didn’t end when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. In fact, opposition intensified to new levels – even to the point where a clerk in Kentucky gained national notoriety for saying, in essence, that she did not want to do the job she was hired to do and uphold the laws of the land, and she was held up by like-minded people across the nation as a symbol for their cause of division and discrimination.
And while even President George W. Bush stood before the nation to condemn those who would spread Islamophobia following the 9/11 terror attacks, a growing segment of our population would do just that, condemning an entire religion based on the fanatic acts of a few followers.
Perhaps we have just become too complacent. Perhaps we just need a reminder that, chiche as the saying is, life is a journey. We have made tremendous progress in creating more inclusive society where people are not judged on the basis of their skin color, their religion or their sexuality. And that progress is not going to go away simply because Trump moves in to the White House.
Businesses are not going to suddenly fire all their female CEOs. Sports leagues, businesses and groups that have condemned backward thinking – such as North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill – aren’t going to suddenly reverse what they have said. Businesses know they thrive when they have a diverse workforce, and they realize their customers are made up of representatives of that same diversity.
What does need to happen, however, is that all the people who had become complacent, confident in their belief that we would continually move forward , now need to understand that it is their time to stand up.
That doesn’t mean rioting against Trump, and it doesn’t mean inciting violence – the same type of violence we are quick to condemn when it comes from those who we disagree with. What it does mean is we all have to stand up to the bullies and let them know their behavior will not be tolerated. We must stand up to the racists, the homophobes and Islamophobes. Not by fighting, but by sharing the message that love still trumps hate.
Throughout history we have done this time and time again. Adversity tends to unite us, and it also brings out the best in us. The loss of a single battle does not portend the loss of the war. Have faith in your country. Have faith in yourself and your neighbors. Share the love.