When members of my family turned on us, it was a quick and easy decision to remove them from my life. It seemed the only practical thing to do. Why go to family parties, sit in the corner, and fear an outburst of hate? Why bring someone I love onto an unfairly weighted battlefield? Why bring our future children into a family that would make them feel bad about themselves solely based on their mixed race? Why live in fear of hate?
Upon hearing the verdict, and I say verdict because it feels to me like a guilty man has just been released, I found myself shaking. My first thought was shock. I had believed, that the outrageous, hateful rhetoric that was shared by our now presidential elect would be enough for America to stop him in his tracks. My second was to reach for optimism, to say there is a light at the end the tunnel always, right? But I found myself asking, what if the sun has set and there is no more light?
I have struggled a lot with this election. I have spent the last week constantly near tears. It feels like the air around me has changed. I can't really explain it, but last night, when Brandon texted me from work to say there were protesters outside and police in full equipment blocking off streets, that he had walked through this to get inside, it hit me. The hate, from both sides, is way too close to home.
The last time I felt this way, all I had to do was change my email address, stop going to family parties, and spend more time with people who lifted me up than those who were bringing me down. Now, I cannot just change my email address. I cannot just stop going to events. But I can do the latter. I can surround myself with people who lift me up, who love no matter what. And I can lift others up and love them.
There are a lot of scary things happening in this country. Both sides are turning on each other. People are angry. People are afraid. While this week has felt like walking through a tunnel where the sun is setting and the light is slowly dimming, there is something I was reminded of.
There will always be hate. There was before and there will be tomorrow. It may be from our families, strangers, neighbors, political figures from around the world and while I admire optimism, it is a fact that we will never truly be at peace. People are different and that is what makes us human and powerful and strong. It is this realization that must be embraced.
We must live together despite our fears and beliefs. We must not let one man define how we interact with each other. We cannot give one human being that kind of power over us. So whatever your political affiliation, whoever you voted for, whatever your fears, we must be each other's light at the end of this tunnel. It is the only way we will get out.