Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Hope is a choice.

I don't know about you, but I have not been enjoying 2016 so far. It's been a pretty hard slog for me, personally and professionally. My husband and I have both had some health problems. (Don't worry, we're fine.) My Gramma died. Here in the UK, people voted narrowly to leave the European Union, which actually affects me a fair amount since I've been living here since 1999 under my husband's EU treaty rights.

And, of course, there has been the US Election. Which has felt like a slogging grimly uphill through a thicket of brambles while being repeatedly punched in the face. If I made the mistake of turning on the news, odds were good that I would be watching violence break out at a political rally. In America! All over social media I was watching minority groups be attacked, called rapists, being threatened with banning from even entering the country based on their faith. In America! If I read a newspaper, I might be reading about the possibility that one of the major party candidates was being directly supported by a totalitarian out of Russia. In America! And then I see that the Ku Klux Klan has openly and excitedly come out in support of one of the candidates, embracing his slogan as their own. Ah, yes. In America. In 2016 America. 

And the things we do to women. I've had to listen over and over again to one of the candidates talk about how he likes to sexually assault women. I've had to listen over and over again to insulting, demeaning, and outright cruel things said to and about women by one of the candidates. His words blown up so large and playing on repeat so often that these insults overwhelm any words that have ever been spoken by the other candidate. 

The candidate who is a woman. 

The candidate who is a brilliant, hard working, determined woman. 

The candidate who has been working her tail off to make America a better place her entire life. The candidate who got herself elected to the US Senate, where she took her seat alongside Republican men who had been attacking and insulting her for years. The candidate who astonished these men by being hard working, smart and good at her job. The candidate who somehow found the mental toughness within her to work with those men and do some good in the world. 

The candidate who in 2008 won more votes in the Democratic primary than anyone ever had before... and still lost. The candidate who went to work for the man she lost to and set out to travel around 170 countries as Secretary of State, laying the groundwork for the Iran nuclear deal, for the end of the Cuba embargo, and earning the respect of world leaders and foreign policy specialists alike. 

The candidate who stood onstage what that other guy - the guy with the insults and the attacks on minorities, and the hotline to Russia, and the endorsement by the Ku Klux Klan, 3 times for 90 minutes each, and crushed him beneath her heels, with a smile and a calm demeanor, and a command of policy that no one could ignore. 

So today, on election day, 2016, I am done with feeling bad. I am done with feeling anxious or angry or scared. I'm done with doubt and defensiveness and doom-mongering. 

Today I have realised that we do not HAVE to feel this way. It's up to us whether we spend time with the ignorant bully who doesn't believe our country is great, or with the smart, hard working woman who knows that when we work together, all things our possible. It is our choice.

As Americans go to the polls today, I am putting aside my anxiety and choosing to feel the love and admiration that I have for the American people, who I know to be decent, kind and inclusive people. Republicans, Democrats or Independent - I know that we a nation of people who pitch in when our neighbour needs a hands. People with a passion for fairness and justice. People who are full of optimism and belief in our future. 

Today, I choose to feel hopeful. Because I am so excited that starting tomorrow, we can pu taway all this ugliness and we can get to work. Just imagine it. Believe in it. 

I'm ready. Vote well, America.