On November 12th, I walked with 20,000 other people from Union Square to Trump Tower. Young women and men brought posters and friends; elderly couples came with their adult children; mothers and fathers held up their daughters on their shoulders. These parents, in bringing their young girls, wanted them to see that unity and equality are the still the values that need fighting for. They showed them to not be afraid to stand up for what is right and to make sure their voices are heard.
For many of us, it was also the first time exercising our First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble. We were an eclectic group, but it was incredibly uplifting to see people willing to speak out for the rights of those different from them. (My personal favorite was the back-and-forth between women and men: “My body, my choice!” followed by “Her body, her choice!”) While some may be critical of those only now coming to the defense of others, sometimes it takes a loss for people to recognize each others’ similarities. Surely we all had differences in our political or personal beliefs, but I ultimately felt safe and supported in this community of strangers, most of whom looked nothing like me or even each other. I was truly moved by how empathetic everyone was, coming out of the protest with a rekindled optimism and powerful sense of individual responsibility and impact.
Nationally, the week following the election saw a massive surge in donations to non-profit organizations; for example, Planned Parenthood garnered more than 200,000 new donations, 40 times more than in a typical week. Many of my friends and I set up recurring donations to various non-profits and used social media to encourage others to do the same. These donations give me the hope that collectively we can make a large impact, starting with belief that each individual can make a difference.
And on Inauguration Day weekend, more than 100,000 women and allies will unite to March on Washington to stand for environmental rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights — human rights.
I hope that these displays of civic duty and feelings of empowerment don’t just ride the coattails of this election but continue to manifest in every one of us as we continue our work as parents or professionals or activists or children. I hope that we do not become complacent, that we do not just read think-pieces without taking action, or abstain from political participation altogether. Hillary’s loss has been painful for many of us, as it represents a cracked glass ceiling that didn’t break, or the sense of a promise rejected. But this “what could have been” is not so far in the future if we believe in our ability as individuals to make change, to be the role models our daughters need.
Irrespective of our political leanings, we can all consider Hillary’s challenge to us that she delivers through the frame of scripture: “My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.” I am optimistic that out of the confusion and despondency of this loss will rise a greater yearning for equality, a renewed sense of duty, and action.