“Defiant Yet Jubilant Voices Flood U.S. Cities” read The New York Times’s Sunday front page.
It is estimated that the largest one-day protest in history gathered Saturday in Washington, D.C., to march in support of women’s rights — in addition to immigrant and LGBTQIA rights, environmental protection and the Black Lives Matter movement — to reassure hope in what seems the most polarized our nation has ever been.
Defiant? Yes, it was.
Uplifting? Yes, it was that, too.
The march earns these labels because it demonstrated a concept some of us might often forget: There’s a difference between being impressionable and being open-minded.
One indicates a persuader is easily able to influence or convince a person, while the other means a person approaches a discussion with impartiality but not prejudice.
Feelings of outrage, resistance, disbelief and cynicism have swept the nation — and the globe — since Election Day.
Social justice groups have flooded the streets of America, protesting the election of a man who many think is the cause of a revival in racism, bigotry, nationalism and ignorance.
Yes, President Donald J. Trump ran his campaign as a demagogue, and there’s a good chance he’ll run the White House using similar tactics.
But, he is not the founder of racism or bigotry. He is not the first man to point fingers and call people names. Followers of radicalism and extremism have been emboldened by others before Trump.
These animosities and dislikes — even phobias — existed before Trump, and they will exist after him.
It’s fair to say he might have strengthened these mentalities, which we thought had been silenced during abolition, the women’s suffrage movement and the Civil Rights Movement — to be quite honest, all the progress made in the 20th and 21st centuries.
To pinpoint Trump as the true source, the one figure representing and fueling all of this hatred and division among our people — well, that’s not fair, nor is it effective.
In no way, shape or form am I defending Trump or any of his supporters for their past or future comments, actions or decisions.
It might be disheartening, and even depressing, for some Americans to try coming to terms with the state of our political system at this moment. I, too, find it difficult to remain optimistic.
While individuals on one side raise their fists in hopes of revolution and resistance, others raise their fists in defense of their own beliefs, too. However, we must put our fists down, whatever the motive for raising them might be.
We must quiet our chants or cheers and begin to take a generous and observational look at the other side.
I’m not asking those who disagree with Trump and his supporters to step into their shoes, or to attempt to grasp the root of their beliefs.
But all of this shouting, marching, teeth-gritting and fist-clenching won’t improve much, if anything at all.
We must be engaged citizens; that is not questionable. We must practice patience while being inquisitive, empathetic and eager to learn from and teach others.
We must regain and improve our ability to listen. This can be accomplished by not focusing on how we will reply, but by trying to actually understand.
When we gather to march and protest for social justice movements, we must examine our reasons for marching and sustain that energy we mustered once we return back home.
It has almost become exhausting to discuss politics with the incessant outcries of mistreatment. Yes, there is mistreatment on all sides of the political, social and racial spectrums, but I see more people pointing at the issues rather than suggesting solutions.
Reflecting on history, we often see past events as just that — occurrences of the past. However, if we start to think about instances as the history of humanity, even amid the chaos and aftermath of the recent, divisive presidential campaign, recurring patterns and irreversible changes become more obvious.
It is a fact that Trump is now our president. It is also a fact that America’s political system functions as a democracy.
Think of democracy as a pendulum swinging back and forth, never stopping in the middle. Sometimes, it might swing far-right, while other times it might swing far-left.
Regardless of the direction the pendulum swings, we remain inhabitants of the United States of America. We must live up to our duty as citizens to make this country — and this world — a better place for those who come after us.
Now, more than ever, our democracy will be tested. Our moral compasses are being challenged, questioned and even ridiculed.
No country or city will ever be a utopia. No country or city will ever have a flawless government, but the attitudes we adopt and ways in which we approach those who differ from us can bring us pretty damn close.