Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Letter to My Sons After Donald Trump's Election

My Dear Ryan, Zachary, & Connor,

I thought a lot about the letter I would write to you after this election. And this is NOT the letter I thought I would be writing. I thought I would be writing about how proud I was of our Nation for electing our first female President and for voting against a bully who represented hate and for a candidate who sought LOVE for all.

But sadly, that is not the letter I am writing because, that bully won. Last night Ryan, as we were snuggling before you went to sleep, as we do every night, you said in a most somber tone, “I just really wanted to see the first girl become President.” Me too, buddy, me too. And that fact that we are not celebrating that today and for many years to come is devastating.

My sweet boys, you will hear a lot of negative things said about Hillary Clinton. I know you’ve already heard many of them. And like I always told you, she is not perfect. She made mistakes. She did things she regrets. But she has also been under a microscope for the majority of her adult life. That means people have watched her every move very, very, closely. And we all know that if everyone watched my every move as your mom that they would see me make mistakes every day. Making mistakes does not make us bad. It does not make us unworthy of leading. They do not disqualify us from holding very important jobs. It is how we respond to those mistakes that defines us. For the things Hillary did that truly were mistakes (i.e. having a private e-mail server, calling a lot of people “deplorable” etc) she apologized and expressed regret. We believe in forgiving each other. Just as when I make a mistake as your mom, I always, always say I am sorry, I do my very best to do better, and I hope with all my heart that you will forgive me. Sadly, too many people refused to forgive Hillary and instead let her mistakes define her…not as a sign of her humanity, but as a sign of being unfit for the job. They were wrong.

There are two major differences between the mistakes Hillary made and the ones Donald Trump made:
1.       Hillary never spoke in hateful ways about large groups of people. Donald Trump spoke in hateful ways about women, Muslim people, Jewish people, Black people, Hispanic people, and people with disabilities. Hate is something that cannot be tolerated. It is something we must ALWAYS speak out against. And even though Donald Trump will be our President we must continue to speak out against the hateful rhetoric he spewed throughout this election.
2.       Donald Trump almost never said I’m sorry. The one time he did he qualified it—his horrible talk about how women can be treated—by saying it was “locker room talk” and his wife called it “boy talk.” You three know that we never speak in disrespectful tones about women, and the fact that the future President of our United States doesn’t know that is horrifying. But we also understand the importance of a sincere apology. Sadly, Mr. Trump does not understand that.

I hope that history will look fondly on Hillary Clinton. I believe she was a strong, capable, determined candidate and the morning after she lost the election when she gave her concession speech I was never more convinced of that. 

She was poised, honest, respectful, and real. She would have been an amazing leader for our Country. I will never stop believing that and I will never stop being grateful to her for all she did to advance women’s issues and to try to teach the world that women truly are just as good as men. She helped you three to understand that and I am proud that you’ll grow up never thinking otherwise.

As for the leader we are stuck with? I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m having a really hard time with the fact that he was elected. I know you saw my tears many times yesterday. I know you understand how sad and angry I am that Donald Trump won. I am angry and sad because the people who voted for him saw and heard the hateful things he did and they voted for him anyway. And as I’ve always told you, standing up for what is wrong is one of the most important things we can do as people! And all the people who voted for him DIDN’T DO THAT!  I will not say, “It will be ok. Our Constitution will hold firm and protect all of us.” Because unless an awful lot of us stand up and refuse to let hate take over, then it just might.

But, at the same time, I am soooo relieved that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. This means that more people actually voted for her than for Donald Trump. And sadly, because of an out-dated system, she doesn’t get to be our President. But knowing that the majority of people didn’t vote for her is a relief because it means we do have a HUGE group of people who will help us fight against hate and spread kindness.

And spreading kindness is what we are going to work really hard to do. We started yesterday. We gave out Hershey’s hugs and kisses to strangers; we brought cookies to the office staff at Ryan’s school; We brought cookies to the Firefighters at the fire station, and we bought two strangers’ coffee at Starbucks. So, when you think about the day we learned Donald Trump would be our President I want you to remember the joy we felt in seeing the smiles and hearing the gratefulness of the people we spread kindness to yesterday. I want you to remember that warm feeling bubbling up from somewhere deep within you that said, “This is right. This is good. This is how we spread love.” I want you to remember the pride we felt in knowing that instead of wallowing in fear or despair we went out and did something good.

Donald Trump may not be a good man. But he will NEVER keep us from being good. And while there is very much work to do to make sure that the majority of our Country understands what it means to be good and seeks to act out of goodness every day (and use our privilege of voting for good and not hate), I am confident that if you, and I, and our friends and family continue to spread goodness that it will in fact grow and make a difference in this world.

So, my kind, thoughtful, sensitive boys, the greatest thing you can do for this world is to embrace that sensitive side of yourselves. Look deep within yourselves and be proud of the fact that you have cried when watching a sad movie or when coming upon a dead animal outside. Be proud of the fact that you love to wear toenail polish (and do so with pride and joy) and love rainbows and bright colors like hot pink. Be proud of the fact that you know what it means to be sensitive to the feelings of others and have expressed sadness yourselves when seeing someone you care about who is sad. These characteristics may not be the most common among boys in our world, but they should be. And when more boys are like the three of you, then this world will be a better, more understanding place and we will one day elect our first female president.  

Spread kindness my sweet boys. Show love, be brave, stand up for what is right. Stand against what is wrong. And always, always, always choose to be kind. No one, especially Donald Trump, can take that away from you.

Love always,


P.S. To clarify, because a lot of people have been making this an issue in the past day and a half: Speaking out strongly and forcefully against hatred does not make you a hateful person. Hate is something we must ALL stand against. Hate wins when we are silent, or worse, when we make excuses or exceptions for people who are being hateful. So, always choose to be kind. But also always choose to be loud in your disagreement with those who are being unkind. 

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