I didn’t think that it would happen. Hardly anyone did. Only yesterday I wrote a passionate essay about feminism, about women’s rights and how there finally should be a female leader of the US. In our study course we were all faithful, hopeful. We didn’t even think of the possibility that Trump might become the president. Now our hope is found sobbing on the floor. Blinking and trying to see if there exists an alternative reality. Knocking it’s head on the ground and crying “No, no, no…” until it get’s only a silent scream because there is no more energy left.
This morning I looked at the first results and I was shocked to see that Trump had already got more votes than Hillary. A lot more. I think a lot of people had the same period of disbelief. When a classmate of mine came into the room this morning, she hadn’t looked the result up yet. We told her. She blinked. She shook her head, she tilted it to the side as if we were kidding. She asked: “Really? You are not …“ A long silence followed. “No, I refuse…” “OMG. No. NONONONONO. How? Why?” finally “Shit.” There was nothing more to say.
It took an hour to completely shatter all of my beliefs on the ground. I really didn’t think that was going to happen. Our disbelief! Our speechlessness! In our study course we sent each other lots of messages. They were anxious, filled with anger and deep despair. It’s unfathomable. Fear also played a vital role. The whole candidacy of Trump was based hugely on fear. You always get people by their fear. It’s not something we can control effectively. If we fear something, we will either try and hide or run away.
We, who believe in democratic standards, in human rights and equality. We, who value all love over hate. We, who think that we have to work together as a global community to bring change. We, who believe that this earth, our environment, can be saved. We, who study to make that happen. We, who have dedicated our lives to make this world a better place. We, environmentalists, feminists, pacifists and so much more. We, the future of this planet. Our hopes have been crashed. The hopes of many on this earth. Especially in the US. The US is not a small country and even if its political decisions do not matter to us in Germany, then at least their culture. If it creates a culture of divisiveness, though, of hate and anger – the rest of the world is affected, too.
Furthermore, environmental decisions concern us all. Everyone. Because we cannot escape this earth and we shouldn’t. If a person who doesn’t believe in the undeniable science of climate change becomes a world leader, we are in big trouble. Someone said: “Well, let’s stay positive, at least we have got many job opportunities now”. We have got a lot of work to do. We will face a lot of barriers. But that will not bring us down.
The reality hasn’t totally seeped in yet. I still haven’t understood what this will mean in the future. Because who is able to predict what will happen?
There are five stages of grief. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
First thing in the morning I couldn’t believe it. There had been a little voice in my head: “You didn’t believe the Britons would vote for Brexit, right?” We all thought that it wouldn’t come true. But it did. In the Berlin elections, the right-wing AfD won nearly 15 percent. I couldn’t believe it. Now we all hoped that this would be different in the US. It wasn’t. I’m so scared to look in the news every morning.
Through the anger stage I moved pretty quickly because I know it wouldn’t help. The hope that they find out that something went wrong in the election – that is also long gone. I moved through the bargaining phase. My current mood is between depression and acceptance. I am determined to bring change on this planet, on an environmental level. It’s going to be tough, our job. We live in challenging times. To give up is not an option.
I’m a person who generally fights. I’m not a quitter. (I wrote a novel last year. In a month!) Until I see that it is a lost case. Sometimes until a bit after this stage. This time, there will be no lost case. My fight is concerning our earth and we can never give up on that. Our life-support system will always have to be supported by us, too.
We have always had times in history when there was a step back. Concerning human rights, concerning the environment. We as humans, though, are made to always go back into the game. If not, there will be new people with new ideas and they will bring the change we need. An incredibly high percentage of millennials voted for Hillary and I think that is a good sign (https://mic.com/articles/157558/here-s-what-the-electoral-college-map-would-look-like-if-only-millennials-voted#.jXlJL2vuo). We are the future. We can bring change.
This might be a black day. I certainly know it was for me. I’m still shocked. This might be a frightening, a terrifying day. This might be a day which contradicts all that we stand for as humans. However, this has been an election that is binding. There will not be a miracle. This is not a joke. People have decided and there are obviously enough people to have brought this outcome. To believe in the values that this man represents. Acceptance is the first step to change. Not accepting a reality is not going to change it. Humans are the agents of change.
It is now our obligation to step out of our shock and do something. Apathy plays into the hands of those who base their governance on fear. We must roll up our sleeves and go to work. Work harder. Now more than ever. In my bed this morning, when I read the news on my phone, I couldn’t get up. I just didn’t see any point. Then I realised: I need to get myself to uni. Quick. I need to absorb as much knowledge as I can, need to meet as many people as I can to be able to do a decent job in saving our environment. Now more than ever, we need people who recognise problems and work on them. Now more than ever, it is essential to speak to people where they need help. I need to get myself educated, that’s the least I can do.
There is this beautiful sentence by David Orr: “Hope is a verb with its shirtsleeves rolled up.” I deeply believe that to be true. Hope is important in the times of despair and utter horror.
By stepping back and saying we cannot change anything, there will be decisions we might not like. Only by giving our best, working harder than ever, we can make things happen. If it doesn’t succeed, at least we have tried.
It is hard to say how this will all unfold. What political implications this election might have. I’m a German citizen and therefore not that knowledgeable in US politics. However, as a citizen of this world I do care tremendously. Lasting environmental decisions are made on an international level. When I’m reading through all these treaties in my law class, I’m amazed how many climate regulations there are. How much we already have achieved. It isn’t anywhere near enough yet. Implementations are still lacking.
Maybe the world wasn’t that far yet. It is definitely time for a female president. It always was. But maybe people weren’t ready for that to happen. Your vote counted but even more it counts what you do with the outcome of this election. We cannot change the result anymore but we can decide on what we do with it. An election is an indicator of people’s opinions. We have to work on those first! Work on the social climate as well as on the atmospherical one.
Look at the American films. They always have a positive ending in some way. You are a hopeful nation. We also want to be as hopeful. Take for example French films, they are dear to my heart – they mostly end in a sad way. But it was a US election not a French one. We should act like the people in the films do. Bring this whole drama to a fortunate ending. Yes, that will be difficult. Yes, we share that burden together. Yes, we will unite and be stronger together.
So my message to you today is this: Keep going! Keep fighting! Keep working! If you believe in a better world, a united one, make it happen. Changes are made by people in the end, not by leaders. Generally not by leaders themselves either but by the advisors. Or the lobby behind them. There can be decisions but the ones who implement them – are we! Most importantly, do not lose your hope. Hope is our call to bring change. Hope will be our motivation to get up in the morning. If you believe your children should live in a better world, make it happen! I refuse to let my hope be taken from me. Because it is our choice. Speak up and go on.
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