by Sophie Clark
Spread across the headlines this morning we were faced with a single, unavoidable but equally unanswerable question: What will Trump do now?
Well, that ship has sailed and we have two months and eleven days to guess the course it will take. The more pressing question is: What will we do?
If we define our democracy by the right to vote, then our part is done. We can only sit back and watch the spectacle unfold. But that definition washes away the reality of hundreds of years of US history, built on the backs of ordinary people fighting to shape the country they wanted to live in.
That is the fight that got us the right to vote, integrated schools, and the weekend. More recently I and countless others gained the chance to build a family that is equal in the eyes of the law to any other in this country.
That was not granted to us by an elected representative, it was hard won by millions of determined people who would not accept a system that placed no value on our experience of love. Whether or not you agree with me on this issue, it demonstrates the power we have when we come together to directly shape our future.
What do you want to change? Need to change? When you walk out of the front door in the morning, do you believe the law will keep you safe? Does the school your children go to prepare them to build the lives they dream of? What does the world you imagine for them look like? Ask yourself these questions as move through your day today. Write your answers down. Share them. Challenge yourself to be specific. Violence may seem an insurmountable problem, but it can be addressed if we look at it one piece at a time.
When parents identified a history of violent crimes in front of an elementary school in Baltimore, they came together and pushed local government to invest in street lights. Their children can now walk home from school after dark without fear.
In some ways this was a small victory, but when that decrease in violence means even one mother seeing her child in a graduation gown instead of a casket then it’s value is beyond measure.
This election has rightly been called one of the most divisive in living memory. We have been assaulted with unprecedentedly open attacks on our value in this society, whether we are simplified to “criminal” immigrants, “deplorable” rednecks, or “fat pigs” whose only asset is our “sex appeal”.
To move forward, we need to come together. This election has surfaced a burning desire for change in this country, a degree of change that is not truly within the power of the president. The ability to create that vision lies with us, and can only be accomplished piece by piece. Regardless of skin color, reproductive anatomy, sexual identity, immigration status, political affiliation, or the thickness of our pocketbooks, our dreams share more in common than they differ.
Friday is Veterans Day. It will be a time to honor the more than a million people who have died in service to this country as well as a reminder to recognize what they died for. This nation is rooted in the ideal of we the people’s right to shape the future of our own country. That right has not always been upheld, with plenty of examples of violence and suppression marring the history of civil rights, but it has always been fought for. Every time we write off the way things are as the only way they can be, we write off the value of the sacrifices these service members made as well as the those of everyone who has fought within our borders to build their vision of a United States. This Friday, support our troops by coming together, finding the dreams you share with others, and committing to fight on the home front to make those dreams a reality.
What will you do?
Sophie Clark is a University of Washington medical student and a community organizer
Featured image is a Wiki Commons photo