Twenty seven years ago today, an amazing and unthinkable thing happened – a terrible wall that separated a city, a country, and the world fell. Families that had been divided for nearly three decades were reunited and a world torn apart by the Cold War began to feel a little more friendly and united. A standing Republican United States president had called for its destruction and this wondrous call to action became a reality not long afterward. We cheered and cried and viewed the destruction of the Berlin Wall as a victory for freedom and democracy.
Yesterday, another amazing and unthinkable thing happened – the United States elected another Republican president – one who has promised to build walls in the name of patriotism, one who proclaims unity while encouraging division, one who uses his power for self-gain while touting the greater good. How far we’ve come only to take so many rapid steps backwards and away from the direction of greatness.
Today, we choose, not who will lead us, but rather how we will respond to yesterday’s election and the future that it promises.
For those of us who are anxious and fearful, who are feeling disenfranchised and unwelcome in our own nation, who are vulnerable and at risk… we can choose to let this fear drive us to despair. We can choose to hide away from the world. We can also choose this time to find deep within ourselves the courage to reach out to our allies and support networks. We can choose to let our fear motivate us to make positive changes and to let our anxiety become a catalyst that drives us to a higher purpose.
Those of us who are thicker-skinned, who have learned to withstand bullies and hatred, whose souls have been tempered by fire and force… we can choose to harden our hearts against this world. We can choose to respond to hatred and intolerance with our own brand of the same. Or we can choose to reach out to those who are vulnerable, weak, and afraid. We can choose to use our hardness as an shield to protect those who need shelter. We can choose to let our thick skins be an armor for ourselves as we battle on the side of compassion and love.
Today, we can choose to change the narrative. We can choose to make this, not the ending, but the beginning of our story. We can choose to tell it in voices proud and strong and to be the voice for those who have been silenced. We can choose, as we once did, to tear down walls instead of building them.
For those of you are capable, please take this opportunity to support those who need it. Grand gestures are wonderful, but it is the small compassion-filled actions that are often the most needed. Whether volunteering to help a vulnerable part of the population or simply checking on a friend who might be feeling unsettled and frightened by the election results, every compassionate action you take will make a positive difference.
I encourage you, if you are one of the vulnerable, to reach out to your support system and to know that you are not alone. You are loved, important and valued. You have worth and beauty. Your story is not finished and there are people out there who will help you to write it in dark and difficult times. No election result will ever change those things.