Fear. It’s such a powerful feeling. It is also a powerful tool that can be used to motivate people to do almost anything. When people fear for their lives, they can be coerced to commit almost any act. Right now, when I look at the atmosphere created by our presidential election here in the United States, I admit that it is easy for me to be overcome with fear.
I spent so much of my life motivated by fear. Fear of going to hell. Fear of rejection by family, by friends. Fear of losing jobs, and, yes, even fear of political candidates. On the evening of November 4, 2008, I stood with tears in my eyes when I realized that Barrack Obama would be the next President of the United States. My tears were not tears of joy. They were tears of sadness and defeat. I was standing in the Republican headquarters in Muskingum County, Ohio.
The local Republican headquarters that year was in an empty former furniture store that had been leased by the local Republican group, and most of the building’s exterior walls were glass for the purposes of showcasing the furniture that used to occupy its showroom floor. I had sat at tables in that space many nights phone banking, reaching out to voters and attempting to persuade them to commit to supporting John McCain and Sarah Palin. That night, election night, as I stared out those same windows at the cars as they drove by on one of the city’s busiest streets. Did they know, I had to wonder? Did they know that America had just elected a Muslim and that our demise as a Christian nation had surely been cemented?
I write with those words because those were the words the filled my mind that night. I have changed a lot in eight years. Now, the thought of losing President Obama as our nation’s leader can easily move me to tears. Again, the tears are tears of sadness, and, again, because, in January, the United States will have a new president. Times have changed. I have changed. I actually don’t really find myself being fearful very often anymore. I am generally in environments that are very supportive of me in terms of who I am and in terms of my safety.
I do admit to allowing fear to creep in during this election though, and I don’t like it. The fear comes from the increasingly real potential of a Donald Trump presidency. I am critical enough of myself to ask the question, “Are you just doing the same thing all over again? Are you just fearing the idea of a President Trump the way that you once irrationally feared an Obama presidency?” I don’t think so. I do believe that there are very real reasons for those of us as citizens of the United States and really as citizens of this planet to fear the idea of Donald Trump being put into a position to have that much power.
Over the past several days, we have watched as the Republican Party officially placed their stamp of approval on their nominee, and we have seen the Democratic Party do the same. I am bolstered by the hope that I see embodied in our Democratic leaders, and I am reminded of where I have come from. In the last eight years, my spiritual and political beliefs have undergone a complete renovation. I no longer believe that President Obama is a Muslim, but, more significantly, it wouldn’t matter to me if he was. Additionally, I have let go of the idea that the United States was founded as an exclusively Christian nation.
As I made that transition, I knew that I had to approach each day with a commitment and determination to do whatever it took to build a new life for myself, and, along the way, I reminded myself that I also owed it to the world around me to make life better for others. During this time and continuing into the present, I have been amazed at the kindness and generosity of other human beings. I have been blessed beyond measure in so many ways, and I continue to be; so, when I find myself being fearful of what I imagine others might do, I am reminded of the beauty, the love, and the generosity of so many. I believe that goodness is the essence of what is at the core of the majority of Americans and at the core of so many of us around the world. No matter where the road takes us or how dark things become, I sincerely believe that love will triumph, and, in the spirit of doing all that I can to make the world better for as many as I can, I will be doing the most powerful, real-world action that I can take in order to make sure that the unabashed hostility and division that I see embodied in Donald Trump. I will be voting in November for Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States. #ImWithHer