Either a monster, or someone pretending to be one, has just taken the presidency of the United States of America. But if every story has a villain, it must also have a lesson. Here are the lessons I am teaching my daughters following this election:
1. America was the boy who cried wolf, and when the wolf came, no one could hear us.
Four years ago, we smashed Mitt Romney’s face into the ground because he said these four words: “binders full of women.” He made a rotten choice in wording a noble goal: hiring from the other 50% of the population. The response was swift, fierce, and loud. This year, Donald Trump made dozens of statements that not only exhibited poor word choice, but also gave the wrong message: “Grab her by the pussy” has one more word than and far worse meaning than “binders full of women,” but the sound was drowned out. Every election in the age of social media is run by a rhetoric of unprecedented fever pitch, and we finally had a candidate (or two, depending on which way you lean) who deserved the outcry.
But no one could hear us.
2. Take this as just another reason, in a line of many, to think of those less fortunate.
Just as in President Obama’s first election, Donald Trump ran on promises of change. The promise was delivered to a different crowd, with different talking points, but the hope of change, the hope of making things better for those who need it, determined the course of history. We must never forget those who have fewer opportunities than we do and must work to make their lives better in any way we can. If we don’t, they will find someone who will.
3. Diversity makes the United States AMERICA. To succeed, leverage it!
The tight races that run from the most hyper-local to the ticket at the top, and from the smallest issue to the grandest, prove in every election how varied the opinions of Americans can be. “No two people are alike” we celebrate with our children, but when it comes to decision-making, the celebration turns a mission to defeat. Everyone from Pantsuit Nation to pollsters and the media to Donald Trump himself with his repeated assertion that the election was rigged knew, knew Hillary Clinton would come out on top. And then she didn’t. The echo chamber of our social worlds blinded us all to the fact that other people think different things, experience different things, believe different things.
Let us all take this as a reminder to recognize our differing opinions and find a way to move forward, not in spite of them, but in line with them.
4. Use fear not as a pedestal, but as a stepping stone.
The fear that engulfed me when I finally tuned into the coverage last night and saw the path before us stopped me in my tracks. I was stunned into silence and stood high on my fear looking down at our home, our family, and our world.
That stop in our tracks must be quick and decisive. Will we stay here at a stop, halfway down our path, or will we take that fearful stop and use it to launch us forward?
Yesterday morning, I showed my girls what it means to be an American, to get knocked down, get back up, and push forward with everything we’ve got. We will use this moment to bring us closer to where we want to be. We will accept that villains come in every story, but that the lessons to be learned are our rock.