Love In a Hopeless Place

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I don't usually write about politics, but last night's election results were not just political, they were personal.

I felt personally offended that the country I call my home elected a president who has openly and repeatedly made racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic remarks and even claims to adopt policies to bolster some of these comments.
Last night I went to bed before the election was called because I just couldn't take it anymore and because secretly I'd hoped I would wake up the next morning to a miracle.
That didn't happened.
And so I started my day searching for the right words to say, the words I would say to the devastated students that I knew would come to me for comfort, the words I would say to the women who read my blog and follow me on social media because they consider me "inspirational."
But I woke up this morning with no inspiration to give.
I turned to social media for help, posting to my Facebook page that I was searching for something to say to my students. My friends rallied around me and gave me exactly what I needed.
"Tell them that we will continue to fight for them," one colleague said.
One friend, who is actually one of my former teachers, said this:
"I'll tell you one thing. The last thing those kids need is to come to school today and find you defeated. You don't have to have any great words of hope. You don't have to do anything extraordinary today. You just need to be the exact same kind and compassionate and hopeful human being that they've known each day before today. Go in there and show them what an adult looks like. I'm rooting for you. Peace."
And with that I shifted my focus. I stopped focusing on what I'm fighting against and started focusing on what I'm fighting for.
And I stopped feeling sorry for myself as a powerful quote from one of my favorite TED Talks came to mind.
In a talk given at TEDWomen 2010, feminist blogger Courtney Martin recounted a time when she was so disillusioned with the country that she fantasized about lighting herself on fire on the White House lawn. She shared this with her mother who then turned to her and said, "I will not stand for your desperation."
So this morning I looked at myself in the mirror and repeated those words: "I will not stand for your desperation."
Instead I will stand for my students. I will stand for my family. I will stand for my friends. I will stand for women. I will stand for love.
Love was the inspiration, the answer, I was looking for all along. By focusing on the love I have for the people around me I can rise above the hate that earlier this morning had me trembling in fear. This is no time to go quietly into the night.
So I will love my students by being the safe space they seek and empowering them to be the change they want to see in the world. I will love my family and my friends by reminding them always that they matter. I will love the women of my tribe by helping them make their dreams come true.
I will smile at strangers and hold open doors. I'l be patient with people at the grocery store, my favorite restaurants and even the DMV. I will even strive to rein in my road rage because at the end of the day we're all just trying to get where we want to be.
Viktor Frankl once said that, "Everything in life can be taken away from you, except for your freedom to choose how you respond."
I choose to respond with love, a love that defies, a love that knows no defeat.

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