"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Those words are from The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus. When I was in 9th grade, my American History teacher made us learn the entire poem. It was important to her that we learn those words inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty so we could understand our own histories. Many of our ancestors came through Ellis Island and she wanted us to know those words and understand them.
The past few days, I've been reciting those lines in my head. Ninth grade American History was a long time ago, but those words are ingrained in my brain forever. The meaning of those words has also stuck with me all these years. That's one of the reasons Donald Trump's candidacy worried me so much. He doesn't believe in those words. He wants to shut those words up, and that's just not the American way.
I've spent the past few days thinking--sometimes quietly to myself and sometimes not so quietly to my husband, my kids and some of my most appreciated friends. I'd viewed this election as a battle for the soul of our country. Perhaps, I was being overly dramatic, I'd thought more than once. I believed the good people of this country would never choose hate over love. I've always tried to see the good in others, so the choice was obvious to me. Yet, they did choose hate. It is something I can't understand. No matter how many times I'm told on Facebook to "get over it," it's not going to happen any time soon. For those of us who have fought for women's rights, for rights for everyone, it's just not that easy.
As the returns started to come in Tuesday evening, I was in shock. My husband was in shock. My children were in shock. We watched in stunned silence--my daughter texting me from a party at her school where everyone there was devastated. I quickly learned who my friends were and sadly, who they were not.
The texts started showing up on my phone, "Are you ok?" "How are you doing?" At 2am, I got a text that just simply said "I love you." My friends were beside themselves. We never saw this coming. We checked in on each other all night. I am forever grateful to them for that.
The thoughts ran through my head. I worried about my friends who depend on Obamacare. I worried about my LGTB friends and family. I worried about my Muslim friends, my African-American friends, my kids' student loans, my little nieces who now would have to realize that a woman can't make a single mistake, but a man can think sexual assault is funny and wrap himself in bigotry and misogyny and be rewarded with the presidency of the United States.
We had a choice. We could choose love, hope, acceptance and push forward to make sure everyone was able to live up to their potential or we could choose hate and bigotry. Our country chose the latter. One thing that makes me feel a little better is that more people did vote for love than hate. They just didn't do it in the right places, so it doesn't matter because we have a little thing called the Electoral College.
So now we have to somehow accept this. It's a work in progress. It's hard because to me, the soul of our country has gone dark. It hurts the souls of those of us who try to live in the light and push for love and acceptance for all. Somehow, we will pick ourselves up. It might take a while, but we will get there.