The last two weeks have a been a struggle. Even if you’re not an American (and I’m not), the election of the next President of the United States has had a huge impact. Daily, people are becoming more bold in their hate, fuelled by its constant normalization by Trump and his goons.
Things are going to change, and it won’t be for the better.
My news feeds have been filled to the brim with post-election commentary. I’ve read many things from both sides, articles relaying fact and numbers, etc.
The general mood I see is one of disillusionment, sadness, and intolerance. The latter, sadly, stemming from both sides.
In this dark time, we must not only stand up for our beliefs and the vulnerable people around us. We must also try to engage in conversations with those who disagree with us. This is a very difficult thing, especially when very passionate in your stance. However, if we only view the other side as the enemy, there is no room for growth.
In the past year or so, I have become very passionate in my feminist beliefs and politics. I went from someone who never paid attention to the world to someone eager to engage with it. Over the last two weeks I have been drawn into the battle–online and off. When challenged, my hackles would rise and I would passionately shell out my thoughts and opinions.
This isn’t always the worst thing. But it’s definitely not the best thing if I want people to actually hear me. If I want people to listen to me, I have to also give them the courtesy of listening to them.
This is really hard when those people disagree on things that are so close to your core. But that doesn’t make those people stupid. It means they value different things. Sometimes this is because they are just that–different from you. Sometimes it’s because they have internalized prejudices that they may not even be aware of (and no one is immune to this). But either way, the only chance you have of them listening to you is to treat them with a modicum of respect.
Don’t get me wrong–some people are just filled with hatred. They may not listen to you no matter what. And that’s not on you. To me, the most important thing, however, is to always be respectful and strong in your beliefs. Be vocal–but speak the truth in love. Others are filled with hate, but I don’t want that to ever be me.
So, what am I going to do? I am not going to accept hate. I am going to use my privilege to stand up for the vulnerable. I am going to listen. I am going to engage in productive conversations, not debates or arguments. I am going to give my time and money where I can to support the causes, people, and institutions I believe in. I am going to use my voice. I am going to love.
What are you going to do?
Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.