I have always joked that perhaps I was never meant to be born an American; that my sense of humour was a little bit too dry and sarcastic; that I have always enjoyed a nice cup of tea a bit more than the average American. I have not, however, usually found myself ashamed of being an American. And then came the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November 2016.
On that day We, The People, of the United States elected Donald Trump as President. I cast my vote, not for Trump, but even so in the end Trump won. Hillary Clinton had the popular vote, but not the necessary 270 votes in the Electoral College. So, it is what it is, and I am not writing to talk about how the Trump campaign succeeded or how the Clinton campaign failed, or even how third-party candidates are barely spoken about.
What shames me, what leaves me feeling embarrassed to be an American right now is that, although technically Clinton won the popular vote, and therefore that means that a majority of Americans did not vote for Donald Trump, it was a very narrow margin with which she won that popular vote. And that means, nearly half of my fellow Americans supported a racist. A bigot. A misogynist.
I had thought that it couldn’t possibly be quite so many as all that. Surely, not as many of half of us could find enough political worthiness in Donald Trump to excuse his shortcomings as a person. And yet, half of us did.
I am not saying that Clinton is a shining example of all that a human being should be. Hell, at one point prior to the results of the Election, I quipped that I had cast my vote for Cthulhu, because why should I vote for a lesser evil, after all? But I had thought that a lot more of us were better than this. Better than to cast our votes for someone who would say that he could shoot someone and it wouldn’t cost him voters. Better than to cast our votes for someone who would speak so shamefully of women, and excuse it as “locker-room talk”. Better than to cast our votes for Donald Trump. Clearly, I was wrong because just near half of us did exactly that.
America, I really hope you can get your shit together by 2020, because honestly, I am ashamed of you.
As I wrote, though, some of what I wanted to say got a little lost in the flood that came when I began recounting my personal experience. I want to try to correct this. I hope that this time, by taking things one small step at a time, I can actually express my thoughts without getting lost in a sea of emotions.
People can be so quick to judge.
Most of even the most hard-core Pro-Life people I know or have encountered allow for “special cases”. Most of them will concede that either in the case of rape, or in the case of the pregnancy being the result of failed birth control and being a great risk to the mother, that abortion is “understandable” or “allowable”. When they know my story, they will tell me that they understand that I was in a terrible position, and that they understand why I would choose my health and life over carrying the pregnancy to term.
But, a lot of them, if I left the story untold, if I simply said, “I’ve had an abortion”, would immediately begin passing judgement on me. Thinking, or even outright saying, “murderer”. I have had this said to me, by people who don’t really know me, or know the full story. Hell, I’ve even had some people say it to me knowing, at least partially, what happened.
I wonder, honestly, if they think that I actually need someone to make me feel worse.
Here I am again, up well past my bed time.
There are a zillion thoughts running through my mind right now, most of them to do with two very specific and very traumatic events in my life. On the one hand, I feel compelled to talk about my perspective, and on the other, they are things that I have only really ever discussed with a tiny number of people, and there is so much anxiety wreaking havoc upon my brain that at least tonight I can say without doubt that I know from where my insomnia is coming.
Don’t read the rest of this if you think it might upset/bother/offend you. Please. In the rest of this post I talk about rape and abortion. Consider yourself warned.
As is my morning habit, lately, I made my tea and opened up my feed reader to make the rounds of the blogs I enjoy (a list that keeps growing). As I was making the rounds, I discovered a link to an unsettling post: “Freezing Child… Wow… Unbelievable“.
You might want to go ahead and click that link, watch that video, otherwise some of the things I’m about to say may not make a lot of sense…
I believe, perhaps naively, and sometimes, despite all evidence to the contrary, that people are good and kind.
From personal experience, I know that there are those who are not. I know this, but I’ve always chosen to believe that they are the minority. I’ve always thought that, particularly where children are concerned, the average heart is just a little softer, a little more open. A little less likely to assume the worst, that perhaps they are being taken advantage of, or conned in some way.
I know that here, in my own city, that some of the people who hold up cardboard signs near the interstate entrances are con artists. That they make more money sitting out there with their sign and their cup than they ever have with any job they’ve ever had. I also know that’s not the case for every person I see swallowing their pride and asking for help.
As for me, I’d rather be conned now and then than shut my eyes to the fact that there are people suffering when I’m able to do something about that. I’d rather my $5 be spent on alcohol or drugs or whatever occasionally than to miss an opportunity to offer help in what small way I can.
Maybe it’s because, while I’ve fortunately never been homeless, I have been the kid whose parent has run out of food and money towards the end of the month. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to find yourself cold and without a coat to your name. I can empathise.
Maybe none of those people in that video have never been in those kinds of situations. They can’t empathise. Where is their sympathy, though? Human decency? Kindness? Where are those things?
I’m not even suggesting that anyone should drop their money in the cup, but surely they could take a moment to ask him what his situation is… surely they could stop to suggest someone or some place that he should contact? Grab their smartphone and look up child protective services?
Most of them just walk on by.