Yesterday I had my first real stack on my mountain bike (remember how I like to try new things, albeit usually unsuccessfully?).
I’m talking a fall that had me flat on my back in the mud, and the bike on top of me like it was Dorothy’s farmhouse and I was the Wicked Witch of the East. That sort of super graceful situation. It left me with a few grazes, sore ribs and a much sorer ego.
I thought that would be the low point of my day in America yesterday. I was wrong.
Today, as I pick my jaw and sore butt up off the floor, I’m disappointed and disheartened.
Throughout last night and this morning I fielded messages from friends and family.
“Are you coming home?
Grab your passport!
Is America for real right now?”
Barely able to process the events of the election, all I could say was that I was devastated. And I joked that I hope Obama farts on all the couches in the White House before he leaves (when I get upset, I get inappropriate).
I followed this election closely, watched every debate, read the news updates, discussed policies and poll predictions and futures with friends. But I am also not a US citizen or legally allowed to vote, and so I became merely a passionate spectator.
Yesterday I witnessed the hopefulness and excitement of friends turn to disbelief as the results rolled in.
Anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows how much I love America. Though we might not always get along, I’m lucky enough to live in this beautiful, diverse, cultural melting pot of a country. I’m also a quick defender of America when friends highlight its social issues or policies. It’s not perfect, but nearly everyone I’ve met or befriended on this American journey has been overwhelming friendly, supportive, forward-thinking and inspiring.
But I’m worried where it’s heading.
I’m worried for any place where fear and hate is more motivating than efforts to improve society for all of us.
Back home, similar issues are being faced. Many Australians have become completely disengaged with our political system due to a lack of faith in our leaders. Our Prime Minister changes more frequently than Katy Perry changes outfits during a concert tour. Our governing party continues to deny equal rights to minority groups, violates international human rights laws, and drags the chain on climate change policy and efforts to protect the country’s unique ecosystems. Openly racist politicians are elected into office.
Frankly, it’s not a leadership that I’m eager to return home to. I’m worried for Australia too.
I can’t help but feel both our countries are slipping backwards rather than progressing.
I want more for our future.
This morning, as I listened to Hillary and Obama’s speeches, I became more hopeful.
And then I read the good news from yesterday’s elections. Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina to be elected into the US Senate. Oregon elected its first openly LGBT governor, Kate Brown. Ilhan Omar became the nation’s first Somali-American legislator.
Both within politics and beyond it, there are so many people working hard to make this world a better place – but they need help. Compassion starts at a community level, and small acts can help to facilitate bigger change.
Being a spectator in this election has made me appreciate my voting rights in Australia – that I do have a voice. Now more than ever before, I’m encouraged to get more involved on a community level once I return home.
So today I am disappointed. But today I also choose to be hopeful.
We’ll get the future we deserve, eventually.
“Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton.
I’ll forever be a supporter of nasty women and bad hombres everywhere.