‘If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.’ – Juan Ramón Jiménez
I found this quote while reading Fahrenheit 451 a few years ago. I wrote it ironically the other way on a ruled index card and taped it to my desk so that I would see it everytime I sat down to study. (Mom and Dad you can check it should still be there).
Today is… well, today Donald Trump become the President of the United States of America. A country of 300 million people spanning 9.834 million km². This inauguration day was an all too heavy reminder of what could have been. On November 8, I had high hopes I would witness Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first female president of the United States. By November 9, after staying up for nearly 24 consecutive hours, having two panic attacks, and still making it to my 9 am… I was unsure of my future. I could not understand how a man as repugnant as the man now waving to the world across newspapers, television screens, and computer monitors was going to become one of the most powerful, influential people on the planet. How he had won despite claims of sexual assault, racial discrimination, and business fraud. I still do not have an answer to this question… maybe I would if I was getting a degree from his fraudulent university and not one from one of the top 20 world universities.
But – that was November. It is January. 2017. I have grieved, I have attempted to understand… and now like many others I have to take my sorrows, my anger, my knowledge and use it to create positive action. We can sit idly by as those loud, boisterous, braindead microphones continue to shout, or we can speak, educate ourselves, and educate others. We need to keep speaking – even if our voices shake.
But – we must remained poised and composed. We cannot fight fire with fire. It is easy to become angry, to retaliate with more hate. This only weakens our stance and gives those who oppose us grounds to dismiss us as yet another angry mob.
What we can do and what I am trying to do is to put in all the work I can today to make the future brighter tomorrow. I am here in Edinburgh to get the best possible education that I can. I know though an education I will acquire the skills I need to succeed and then in turn use those skills to help others succeed as well. I am here in Edinburgh to meet people and embrace the globalized world we live in. Through discussion and tolerance we can learn from each other – and see that we all truly are not as different as some people want us to believe.
I remember Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘Do one thing each day that scares you’ and rephrase is a bit, ‘Do one thing each day that scares what Trump represents.’ Go out and get an education. Go out and speak. Go out and march. Go out and love. Go out and do not be afraid.
Through love and tolerance and the desire to reach out and connect is how I know we will get through this. It will be hard. My eyes are not dry as I write this. I am scared of what the future holds. I know the United States is not the greatest country in the world, no country can boast that, as no country is without faults and it is a bit egotistical to think of one as ‘the best’ while ignoring very apparent flaws. However, I do believe the United States has a greater responsibility than most. With great power, comes great responsibility (yes, I just quoted Spiderman, leave me alone). My greatest fear is that responsibility will become trivial.
But – amongst the fear and the uncertainty I know if we come together, if we ‘never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it’, and if Princess Leia did not teach me anything else – we must hold onto hope.
Thank you and now I am off to escape to the mountains for the weekend.