THE DIVIDED ROAD AHEAD
The ambassador of darkness is now the president-elect. Despite how stunned many of us are, despite our grief and fear of the future, that is an undeniable fact. A man who has the enthusiastic support of the KKK and other white nationalist groups, a man who has slandered Hispanics and Muslims, degraded women, mimicked a disabled person, shown an appalling ignorance of the Constitution, and called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, will be our next president. And the fact that he has been on good behavior the past few days is, in my mind, irrelevant. To be fair, he didn’t create the hatred and racism in this country, but he did unleash those demons. And they are not genies you can put back in the bottle by suddenly acting like a good little schoolboy and by giving lip-service to unity. America is in trouble. America is deeply divided, and those with hatred in their hearts now feel emboldened.
So what are we to do with this? In 1973 Jackson Browne sang, in his song Everyman: “Everybody I talk to is ready to leave with the light of the morning. They’ve seen the end coming down long enough to believe they’ve heard their last warning.” I remember that feeling — that there was somewhere else go, to escape to, someplace far from the troubles at home. That isn’t the case anymore. This planet is in trouble. This fragile blue ball we call Earth could already be at the tipping point. We don’t have four years to wait it out until Donald Trump and his soldiers of darkness go away. And where in the world could you go to escape violence and hatred these days? We’ve been called upon to stand up to the darkness that’s been unleashed, and that won’t be easy.
Already, just days after Trump was elected, incidents of racial and ethnic hatred are piling up. Muslim women are being spit at, Latinos are being told to go back to their own country, signs saying Make America White Again have cropped up, two boys waving a Trump flag from a pickup truck drove around Wellesley College harassing students and spitting at black girls. We have been living in an unrealistic bubble for years — we knew hatred was out there but we didn’t know how bad or how prolific it was. Not until Donald Trump came along, lifted up that rock and let it all spew out. Now we know. Now the demons are dancing among us and they will not be silenced. Our choice, it seems to me, is a stark one and one that requires us to dig deep and hold on to the strongest ropes of faith that we can find. Faith that light can dissolve darkness. Faith that love is more fierce and more powerful than hatred. Faith that we are not meant to give up on the beauty and the grandeur of this earth and all the creatures who inhabit it — the magnificent animals who are being slaughtered by people like the Trump boys who gleefully pose for photos with animals they have brutally shot. Faith that God put us here to be miracle-workers, not bottom-dwellers.
Martin Luther King said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” I for one am having a terrible time trying to dig past my sorrow at where this country has come to. I’m struggling to see past my fears. I’m struggling to take the first step. But if we don’t collectively commit to the idea that hatred and small-mindedness will not win, will not define our country, then we will go the way of many civilizations before us that ended up as footnotes in history books. It’s hard to believe there is light when darkness seems to bubble up around us. Harder still when the man who will occupy the White House has made that his rallying cry. But towering figures in history — Ghandi, Martin Luther King, to name two — didn’t give up even when things were terrifyingly bleak.
Another quote from Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We are at a moment in history that requires all of us to choose which road we want to go down. The roads are clearly marked. My prayer is that the majority of us will choose the road with a light blinking in the distance, a light that beckons us to remember why we were put here on this earth.