And……..breathe. The election is over.
I’ll repeat that.
The. Election. Is. Over.
I was hesitant and afraid to dive into the murky waters of this post-election craziness, but I’m going for it. This is the Year of Fear, after all.
But this post isn’t about complaining about the results or being pessimistic about the future.
This post is about opportunity.
As I sat around my Airbnb in Austin, Texas yesterday, I contemplated the idea of opportunity amongst all the negativity I was seeing on the news and social media. Democrats were saying, “I can’t believe we have so many racist, sexists bigots in our country.” The Republicans gloated. And none of it was doing anything to start moving forward.
As a Canadian who has spent the last two months traveling in the USA, I’d like to share two messages today.
Dear President Trump,
Congratulations. You proved a lot of people wrong and I’m sure that feels pretty good.
Now it’s time to get to work.
One reason you won this election was because of the shift in the so-called Rustbelt. This is a big opportunity for you to prove you’re the great business mogul you say you are. Can you bring business back to places like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin? Can you turn people’s lives around who have lost jobs, homes, and marriages through these hard times?
I know these Rustbelt-type guys. I grew up in Thunder Bay, a blue-collar hard-working town in Northwestern Ontario. Some of my best friends probably would have supported you if they were American. But it isn’t because they support overt racism, misogyny, and discrimination (although they can sometimes be a little rough around the edges). It’s because they’re tired of the same old politicians spewing the same old bullshit. They liked it that you weren’t a politician. They liked that you spoke your mind—what was coming out of your mouth was less important than the fact you said what you wanted to say.
You see, Mr. President, I grew up playing ice hockey and engaging in locker-room talk. I grew up making racist jokes about our aboriginal community. I grew up to believe that gay couples didn’t deserve the same rights as “us.”
But I’ve changed. I got educated. I traveled the world. I’ve learned that everyone has the right to feel safe, accepted, and loved regardless of sex, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. At the end of the day, the majority of people in this world want the same things: opportunity to make money and provide their children with better opportunities than they had. That’s it.
So here are my two pieces of advice for you:
First, stick with what you’re good at. Go to the Rustbelt with your business expertise and help those hurting people. They’re a big reason you’re president right now. You owe them. This is your opportunity to shine at what you do best.
Second, tread lightly on issues like immigration policy, feminism, and LGBT issues. Maybe you were just blowing hot air during the election. Or maybe you mean the things you said. But if you choose to go down that road, you will awaken a beast, I promise you that. We will not stand for locker room talk and racism. We will not stand for bullying, discrimination, and hate. We will not stand for fear mongering.
Good luck, Mr. President. I hope you use this opportunity to unite rather than divide. I believe you can do it. It’s time to prove your haters wrong.
They call us lazy, entitled, and spoiled. They think we hide behind smart phones and social media while we blame the world for everything. And if the voter numbers are accurate, they were right. Young people didn’t get out enough and exercise their right to vote.
“Boo-hoo! If I can’t vote for Bernie I’m not voting! My vote doesn’t count, anyway! Blah, blah, blah.”
It’s time to wake up, folks. If you continue to not care, you’re hurting other people. You’re hurting the Muslim girl who gets bullied in school for being different. You’re hurting your sisters, mothers, wives, and daughters by not rejecting “locker room talk.” You’re hurting the gay couple who wants nothing more than to give all their love to an adopted child.
We can’t be complacent and apathetic anymore. If Trump tries to incite fear, bullying, and bigotry, we need to make our voices heard. We need to make it loud and clear we won’t stand for it. Because if we don’t, we’re just as much a part of the problem.
Today is an opportunity to be teachers and show compassion to the people who might not understand how their actions and speech can hurt others. It means we will need to get out into the real world and talk to people, face to face, because I guarantee you the people we really need to get the message to are not our friends on Facebook. The people we need to teach don’t care about our “likes” and “shares.”
We need to teach people why it’s cool to respect women, ethnic minorities, and people with opinions and lifestyles different than our own. We need to “Go high,” as Hillary said. We need to show love, open-mindedness, and understanding to people who voted for Trump. They’re not bad people.
“We can all disagree with each other, but that doesn’t mean we have to be disagreeable.”
As a Canadian, I will help my American friends whenever and however I can. I will use my words to inspire positivity. I will make my voice heard in the streets if need be. I will do whatever I can to help mend the hurt that is happening between friends, families, coworkers, and strangers.
The world needs as much love as it can get right now.