If the election of Republican Donald Trump was a shocking event for some, the few days since his triumph last week has sent progressive voters into further fits of anxiety and despair. But there is a ray of hope in an otherwise dark cloud.
In a surprising, yet resounding, victory the new president-elect drew a swift reaction as many bemoaned his misogynist, racist, xenophobic, anti-Islam, pro-abortion campaign, claiming absolute disbelief he could win. Insta-pundits abounded on social media, as well as in the mainstream, predicting ultimate doom.
Almost immediately, some of those who oppose Trump have taken to the streets in protest in multiple events across America and in Canada.
Meanwhile, instead of economic collapse by global markets, within 24 hours of a cataclysmic plunge, Wall Street rebounded to record highs. Also, a calmer, serene Trump appeared on the TV news magazine show 60 Minutes, working hard to dispel fears.
The world did not end, despite predictions by his opponents. At least not yet.
Stoking these fears was the appointment of alt-right media mogul Steven Bannon as a senior policy advisor He is well-known for his sexist and racists views published in Breitbart News.
But maybe the greater concern is not with Trump, but his supporters. Already a litany of incidents has taken place from racist graffiti to direct threats on minorities, especially Blacks and Muslims. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes in the United States, reported on Nov. 13 it received 200 hate crime reports since Election Day.
But that is not all. Toronto city staff were working this week to remove posters in the east end after someone called on white people to mobilize against multiculturalism.
It appears Trump has emboldened some of the worst and darkest elements of society on both sides of the border (and some would argue across the globe).
While ranting on social media in front of a closed group of friends and family may be cathartic, it is time to take a deep breath. The visceral reaction in the moment doesn’t really resolve anything, just like the protesters currently filling the streets comes across more like sour grapes than a bonafide social movement.
Instead, this may be a huge opportunity.
Over the past few years, there is a growing movement emphasizing kindness. And, as one social media observer pointed out this past week, the proliferation of memes calling on people to show compassion, empathy, and support to minorities and others being targeted is an indication of a quickly growing grassroots response.
In fact, this may be the greatest test for all progressive voters.
Maybe it is time to start speaking up more directly when racist remarks are made or sexist comments are dispensed. Rather than just walking by someone in the community is who wearing a hijab, acknowledge them (and smile). Say hello. Do something to make them feel welcomed.
But, it goes even further.
The next time someone is walking a picket line, rather than hurl insults or complain about the inconvenience of the job action, stand with them in solidarity. The things they are fighting for could be really vital – like jobs in the local community or preserving full-time employment, and proper benefits. Maybe they are fighting to maintain education standards or good local health care. It is also one of the ways to close the growing income gap and economic disparity that current exist. This inequity is what drives discontent.
The way to combat the scourge unleashed by Trump is through our ability to recognize the power of unity. A stick cannot be broken when it is in a bundle. Rather than being overwhelmed, we may find our greatest asset is our common values expressed through individual acts of kindness, as well as the practical collective expression of our principles.
Originally published: Nov 16, 2016