Last month, the day after the American election I took my teenage daughters to school, just a few minutes after learning the news of our new president from the radio. As a family we have been preparing for Mr. Trump for many months, but it still was a shock.
Months ago I considered moving my family to England, as a British national I have that right. But that was before I more deeply explored what all my resistance was about. I decided to lean in and deeply explore within myself, all the things that worried me about him, and to more deeply explore what living in America means to me. For the past few months I have contemplated the possibility "America" affords, and also what it means for me to attempt to live democracy on a daily basis, democracy as an act I consciously contribute to… daily.
My children and I have talked about what democracy is, what it aspires to be, and that an election is only one way democracy attempts itself.
That morning, on the drive we talked about it some more. I told them that today is a day for listening, and that deep listening is a democratic act. I encouraged them to listen to their teachers, their friends and prayers... to deeply listen without responding, so that they could begin to understand.
Then we talked about our prayers. We can act in our power by choosing to pray for humility to wash over Mr. Trump. That we should be thankful so many of his warts, flaws and fears are transparent. And that we as a country, can help heal him and all us with similar hidden and outward expressions of fear (racism, elitism, bullying, etc.) by using our love and deep listening to the pain, and of course our individual and collaborative creativity.
Then I felt a panic feeling come over me, dropping them off at the door, questioning (in my heart) their safety at school… well anywhere really. I reasoned with myself: Dropping the children off at school today is a democratic act. Mothering (and fathering) is a democratic act.
We shall overcome. One foot in front of the other. Breathing. Listening. Hurting. Learning. Forgiving. Remembering that people and countries can and do change. Continuing on. Loving forward. We will make this new story, together.
(photo of our daughters standing in front of Abe Lincoln memorial in Washington, D.C. on the very spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr loved into being our “I Have a Dream” speech.)