On The Election: Moving Forward

By Daniel Blackball

By Daniel Blackball

Summer Nguyen '20

Where to start? The past week has been a merry-go-round, albeit, not so merry, but really frantic, and surreal. At ten in the morning, less than twenty hours after Trump began the steady route to becoming the next President of the United States,  I was discussing Trump with a friend in a rather lighthearted manner.

I spent the next  day skipping class, moping in bed, trying to wrap my head around the reality. I called my friend in the south and texted my family from across the ocean. I read articles, watched videos, scrolled through Twitter , listened to the radio, and shared thoughts with people I barely knew. I stayed silent in most conversations , because I was afraid  I wasn’t eloquent enough . But these conversations have left me  pondering for hours, and no matter inarticulate  this may be, I believe voicing this out is my first step towards recovery, and eventually standing up for what I believe in.

I am in disbelief. I am terrified, anxious, heartbroken, angered. I am a whirlwind of many emotions thrown into a blender and blended  until I am unable tell which is which,  and I know many are the same. We have shared the recent days reflecting together, encouraging a respectful environment, from which I have learnt so much. In this time, it isn’t that challenging to offend people or be offended, and needless to say I have been on both ends of the stick for quite a while. I can see it poisoning me, blurring my vision; but to say it alone is much easier than actually getting rid of it – like an effective but only temporary painkiller. In fact, such an action is so challenging for me as I stand nearly crippled with apprehension, not so much of it for myself but for the world. As the results were being released I listened to stories of my friends, and I feared for them. I fear I may no longer see them, that they will be taken away from me and that their loved ones  will be taken away from them. I fear the budding violence – swastikas spray-painted on a storefront, people forced to abandon their religious garb, and thus, their identity , extremist movements in other countries – that overshadows us, arising from a disagreeable, yet powerful fallacy: “If the President of the United States says so, why can’t we?”. I fear that the world as I know it will come to an end even before I learn to love it with all my heart. I look at the tears of many others, the despair, terror and disappointment,  and I weep with them, for them. Some tell me I am foolish to shed tears: it doesn’t concern me, I can just go back home and be safe. Even if I cry, tears don’t change things, actions do.

No.

It does concern me – this matter concerns the world. America is not a far-fetched place, its influence is significant and apparent. The world is at stake, and even when it does not physically harm you, the outcome of the election has planted a  seed in the minds of many that it is okay to hate or to discriminate against people based on the shade of their skin, for people they choose to love, and reasons that by no means  contribute to their personal value. It does concern me, for I have chosen to leave my home for the better, to contribute my small effort to a bigger change. It does concern me, for I affiliate myself with so many people who risk being affected by the things to come. To reject this link is to abandon my personal values and ambitions, those that I have struggled to form and protect over my short adolescence.

And I feel that I should cry – no, I have to. As a person I get ridiculously attached, and that is a part of who I am. I choose to cry so that the tears form a river that flows through our hearts and interconnects us. I choose to cry to cleanse my soul of the worries and fears clouding my mind. I choose to cry so that when the tears run dry I can stand tall and fight for what I believe in. I choose to cry, but I will not be terrified forever. Arbitrarily, I cry to be braver.

What is to come after the tears, and this newfound determination? Yesterday during the panel discussion, we talked about the Bennington bubble, and as begrudgingly as I have to admit it, the bubble exists. In a similar sense as I acknowledge the influence of Trump outside of academia, I feel that we should acknowledge that it is there, and it has to be fixed. Somehow the looming implications of Trump’s presidency has lit up a fire inside of me, and of many others; we have to do something about the things that are wrong. I have yet to know what or how, but the answer for “when” is clear: right now, as soon as we can. If we can be resilient against bias and racial/sexual/religious profiling, there shall be hope. We are strong as individuals – people at Bennington have concrete stands on so many wonderful things, and we are stronger as a group. The force will ripple through.

We all have our ways of creating a force. Some choose to be vocal in protests (if you do, please be safe). Some choose community engagement. Some create art. In a place where student interests are so open, so diverse, I believe we can all make a change. Love trumps hate, and love can come in so many forms: our passion to pursue a dream, our compassion for one another, our will to create a better world. Conflicts and disagreements happen intangibly, but they are the ground on which we build a solution, harmony. We can create love from hatred, and from that point, we move forward.