I wonder who I will be during the Trump presidency.
The election of a man who shows callous disregard and outright disdain towards so many individuals who make up the human population legitimizes the mistreatment of those individuals by the sub-group of Trump supporters who voted with hatred for whomever is different than they. While I would like to believe that particular sub-group is less densely populated than fearmongers would have me believe, I have spent some time thinking about what I will do and who I will be if and when the time comes to take an audacious stand against evil.
I know what happens to people when they stand up to hate. Hate and fear are never solely overcome by respectful, reasonable dialogue. Holding love and light in one’s heart is all well and good, but I know it has never been enough to change what needs to be changed. Overcoming racism, bigotry, sexism, and sectarianism takes courageous action. It requires a willingness to be humiliated, jailed, beaten, perhaps even killed, for the sake of doing what is good and right. And me? I like my easy life. I like donating money. I like standing at the courthouse with others when I know the most response we will get is stares from curious onlookers. I can change my profile picture, I can sign a petition, I can lambaste the ills of society from the cocoon of my cozy life with the best of them. But will I risk losing my comfort, my security, my safety to protect others?
As a white, middle-class, heterosexual woman, I am aware of my privilege. If the boldness which the election of a person like Trump causes that sub-group of supporters who truly are evil and twisted to openly put the people without my privilege at risk, will I give up my privilege for those without it? I hope I will. I even think I might. But I cannot be as unequivocal as I wish to be. I know myself too well for that.
I have heard a lot of people say they are afraid of the Trump presidency. Many of my friends have a target on their back if and when the hatred legitimized by a president with the character of Trump becomes action. But I also hear many of my friends without such targets expressing great fear and I wonder if, like me, they think about the cost which might be extracted from them if they choose to make themselves a target in an effort to stand with those whose rights are being threatened. It’s easy to be good when goodness is the status quo. But what if the status quo changes? Who will I be if the worst fears of a Trump presidency become reality?
I think the best way to know who I will be then is to start being that person now, to divert the energy I could spend fretting into courageous and loving actions. I know I am a good person, but I could be better. I could be braver. I could be bolder. So I’m going to start practicing for the day when I need to get incredibly uncomfortable to stand for what is good and right with my friends, my neighbors, my fellow humans, because for many without my privilege that day is already here.