Last night our country elected Donald Trump as the next President of the United States.
It wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for.
You see, throughout his lifetime and his campaign, Mr. Trump has said things that I found offensive about women, minorities, people with different religious beliefs, and people with disabilities. Mrs. Clinton, while not a perfect candidate herself, had significantly more experience and has spent her life in public service. And to be entirely honest, I wanted to be able to share the moment that a woman finally became president with you.
But at the end of the day, my vote didn’t come down to politics for me. I have friends with all different colors of skin, friends with all different religious beliefs, and friends of various sexual orientations. To me, they aren’t just members of a group, they are human beings. Throughout this election season, I saw these human beings experience fear, confusion, and hurt at the idea of a leader who didn’t respect them or represent them. I saw them experience fear, confusion, and hurt at the idea of being surrounded by their fellow citizens who would choose to elect someone like that.
I saw their fear and I couldn’t imagine standing in their shoes. I couldn’t imagine having to raise children in their shoes.
So I exercised my right to vote.
And I truly believed in my heart that, as a country, we wouldn’t elect a president that only respected a small percentage of our diverse population as a country.
And when we did, I felt deeply heartbroken. Deeply confused. Deeply sad.
This election tells me that, when it comes to taking care of each other, respecting each other, appreciating each other, we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.
I wish that I could give you better than that. I wish that I could give you a place full of people that love and respect each other despite all their differences. A place that lifts up those that need it the most.
But we aren’t there yet.
So instead I’m going to tell you a story about a caterpillar.
At some point in a caterpillar’s life, it spins itself a cocoon and huddles down deep inside. It does this not out of a conscious choice but rather a deep instinct. Once inside this cocoon, a tiny cell in the caterpillar’s body begins to change.
And the caterpillar’s body fights against it, pushing back against that change.
And then, in response to the resistance, the tiny cell grows and pushes harder.
And again, the caterpillar’s own body fights it back.
This push and pull continues until the caterpillar is essentially destroyed, broken down to something shapeless and unrecognizable.
From that chaos, a butterfly is born.
You may be tempted to credit that tiny cell that started the change. But in reality, it is the resistance it faced that made it strong enough to succeed. It is the resistance, the fight, that tore down the old so that the new could be born.
It’s true that I am deeply dissatisfied with what this election suggests about our priorities as a country. But somewhere at the bottom of this heartbreak, I can feel a tiny ember of hope burning. A hope that this resistance will not be for nothing. I have been searching all morning for the words to give voice to this hope.
But I still don’t know what to say.
What I do know, however, is this:
It is hard to fight against something you cannot see. Some of us were more aware of the undertones of hatred and intolerance in our country than others. But there is no denying it now. This experience has illuminated the darkest corners of this issue and, although painful to look at, realizing the extent of this problem is the first step to addressing it.
And address it we will. We know we have work to do. While it is disheartening to realize we haven’t come as far as we thought we had, where there is great despair, there is great love. I choose to believe that our sadness, our confusion, our heartbreak will open us up to a greater capacity for love and inspire in us a deeper and more powerful drive to do as much good as we possibly can. I want to give you a world where we all agree that it’s never okay to treat someone with anything less than respect. Period.
The good news is, we don’t have to rely on a president to create that kind of country. It’s up to us to do so. Together.
So even though we may not have seen the outcome we wanted, sometimes it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about finding your people. In the midst of the cold, early morning darkness that followed the counting of the ballots, my greatest hope came from a group of incredible men and women who stood together in that darkness. They were authentic in their grief, and yet they still found the strength in the midst of their sadness to do their best to keep holding each other up.
They were the others, like me, who had seen the fear and confusion in our fellow citizens and voted against the judgement and hate that would affect our neighbors and friends. The beautiful thing about this group of people is that we voted for each other. When I voted in favor of a world that valued love and respect above all else, I did so not just for you but for my friends and their children and their friends and their friends’ children. And in that way, they also did so for me. And for you.
In other words, we are not alone. YOU are not alone. You cannot see it yet, but you are surrounded by this incredible, indestructible, undefeatable tribe of human beings that will never stop trying to make this world a better and more loving place. For you.
This morning I watched this tribe of people, weary and broken, pick themselves up off the floor and go back out into the world to keep fighting.
This work may be hard and we may be weary, but we will never stop fighting to make this a better place for you. For all of us.
That, my dear and beautiful daughter, is a gift to you, and a gift to me as your mother. That, my dear and beautiful daughter, is what gives me hope that the world you are growing up in, the world you will inherit, though flawed, is ultimately good. It is what gives me hope that love will always win.
So for now, I don’t want you to worry. I want you to play outside in the sunshine and the fall leaves and see only the magic in the world. I want you to savor the last of your Halloween candy and make your Christmas list and complain when I won’t let you stay up late. Your childhood is a privilege, and there are many people fighting to protect that privilege.
And as you grow and begin to shed the armor of your childhood, as you begin to feel the weight and pain that this world sometimes offers, you can take your place among this tribe of people and know that we will be here to walk beside you the whole way.