Like many Americans, I’ve spent most of the past week absorbing and processing a new reality resulting from the national election. Clearly, this was a movement with a message to Washington D.C. and the cultural elite on both coasts, that many Americans are not happy with the direction of the country. I believe that it is important that we listen to that voice, understand it, and learn from it if we are going to move towards unity and progress where all feel included. The discourse is not as simple as who is good and right or who are the villains and wrong.
All during the ugliness of the presidential campaign I told my children that I had trust in the U.S. electorate. The divisiveness during the presidential campaign and the resulting landslide election last week have caused me to pause as I question the progress that I thought we had made as a country on so many fronts. I understand the vulnerability that many feel after the election especially women, people of color, the LGBT community, and immigrants. These are not just faceless population segments, but include people that I know and care about; family, friends, and people with whom I work and live in the community. The fears are real.
At the same time, I honor that the people of the country have elected a new president. I support a strong democratic tradition that delivers a peaceful transition of power. I tell my children that I still trust in a balance of power, checks and balances, the rule of law, and the primacy of the states. I hear the concern in their voices and see the confusion in their eyes; my son sharing that the bully won, my daughter feeling less valued as a woman. I can only tell them that we will remain vigilant, always stand up, and always act against injustice, inequality, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia regardless of who is elected or in power. We will not turn back the clock. We cannot allow an amplification of hate.
I appreciate my children’s perspective that the demonstrations nationally, also an important expression of our democratic process, are a way to give voice to not only the fears, and to protest hate, but are also a part of this resolve to raise awareness about this vigilance. But I feel that this needs to be balanced with allowing Mr. Trump the opportunity to rise to the occasion as he assumes leadership and demonstrate that he can be a president for all Americans. I am hopeful that the divisive and dangerous rhetoric that we heard on the campaign trail will not transcend into public policy coming from a newly constituted Washington. Regardless, we will hold our elected officials accountable.
The Call to Servant Leadership
While this election redefines our country and challenges our assumptions, the ugliness and division of the campaign need not define us. I refuse to allow it to become my reality. I will still identify with what is good, noble and just about America while accepting that there are issues, many structural, that need to be addressed, including that all Americans do not have equal access to that what is good, noble, and just. I don’t consider myself a political person nor one who participates in demonstrations, but I will continue to identify with and answer the call to servant-leadership. This is where I find solace and resolve.
I am recommitting myself as a servant-leader to be active with the boards that I am on, such as at Holy Names University and the Oakland School for the Arts. These institutions of learning and the arts have endured, providing access to education that transforms, and the arts that inspire; while supporting the under-served, celebrating women and embracing diversity. I am both fortunate and proud to work with many talented, accomplished, enlightened and committed professionals on these boards, equally passionate about lifting up our community and welcoming all to a path for successful lives. In witnessing my colleagues’ work, it reaffirms my own voice and reality.
In a world that has become more complicated, and now with a Trump presidency, these places of learning and so many other organizations focused on education, affordable housing, access to health care, jobs training, homelessness, and other causes are even more critical in the community and their outcomes matter even more. Committing to this work is my reality regardless of the election outcome, and I invite you, encourage you, to do the same. Align with a good cause that you can be passionate about, that positively impacts your community, and defines your sense of self as you search for a greater meaning.
I am listening to this calling to serve and will be even more present in this volunteerism as a way to reaffirm what I value in this country, especially equal access and diversity. I will not lose hope or let go of who I am and what my reality is in this country. Finding, aligning, and working with organizations and communities committed to gender and racial equality, places of learning for all students, incubators for scholars artists, scientists, and innovators, to provide a voice, inspire and challenge us, and serve as positive change agents are and will continue to be vital.
So take the time to absorb and process the enormity of the election, mourn the outcome if you need to, be present and supportive to those around you who are experiencing the same wave of emotions, even join peaceful demonstrations if you feel compelled to as a way to share your voice.
But then it is time to get STRONG and ACT.
Some will organize, as progressive political platforms need to be better aligned.
Others will remain vigilant, ensuring transparency and protection of at-risk communities, and provide a voice through the press, social media, and public demonstrations.
Still others will contribute much-needed funds to carry on the good work.
And, for me, and I hope for many of you, this election serves as a catalyst to commit to service and volunteerism, to not only make our communities stronger, and to address the gaps, but also to contribute to our sense of self and reality, in the world, as Washington pivots to a different agenda.
Comments on this article are closed.