Reasons to Hope One Year After the Election

In my memories, the sky was grey and cloudy on the morning of Nov. 9, 2016. I can picture, clear as day, walking through my campus; listening to people around me talk about the results of the election and looking up at the impending storm. That is, of course, only my recollectionin reality, the morning of Nov. 9 may have been cloudless and sunny (through some research it seems like the day was overcast, though perhaps not the “moment before the storm” darkness that I imagined).

Why do I remember that morning in that way? Pathetic fallacy, I suppose. Nov. 9, 2016, was a dark day, emotions-wise, for a lot of people, so in my mind I’ve equated the emotions and the weather.

I’ve written before about the moment I found out that Donald Trump won the electionI heard loud, bewildered shouting in the middle of the night, and assumed the outcome that was a growing possibility had turned into reality. In hindsight, I wish I had stayed up to watch the full coverage of the election, even though it crept into the darkest hours of the night and then the early hours of morning (and even though I had a journalism assignment due the next day).

At the time, I think very few people had an inkling of what was about to happen. When the world woke up on Nov. 9, on the morning I remember to be grey, a lot of us asked the same thing: What now?

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As I wrote in my post after the election, I had been ready to write an article about the first female president of the United States. Accepting not just that I wouldn’t be writing that article, but that I would not be seeing that realityfor at least four years, and likely longerwas disheartening, to say the least. But it was not only Hillary Clinton’s loss that made Nov. 9 difficult; it was who she had lost to, and the policies and rhetoric that were about to take centre stage in the Oval Office.

Watching Clinton’s concession speech made me cry but I was determined to move forward with an attitude of hope. “I looked at my reflection in the mirror and promised myself that I was going to keep fighting for what I believe in, and supporting others who are doing the same,” I wrote.

That bleary morning turned into another night, and then another day. Time passed. In January, Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. I won’t list everything that has happened since then because, unless you disconnected your cable and Internet after the election, you likely know what has happened next. There were, in short, a lot of reasons to be concerned, fearful and angry.

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But there were also reasons to be hopeful. One of the best examples of this was the Women’s March the day after Trump’s Inauguration (pictured above). The sheer number of women and men marching in solidarity both in the U.S. and around the world was nothing short of incredible. The message of the marches was loud and clear: Trump can try to limit womens’ rights, but women will not be intimidated by this—they will fight for what is right.

The ACLU was also a strong force in standing up for equality, freedom and human rights. “President Trump has been in office for 42 weeks. We’ve sued him and his administration 56 times,” the organization tweeted yesterday.

Another source of hope came two nights ago. It was Election Night in America all over again. I had an eerie sense of déjà vu as I curled up on my couch and watched the news. The music, the graphics, the anticipation building up to the results. I allowed myself a smile when the journalists said certain races were too close to call, thinking of the failure of many to accurately call the election last year.

But the feelings of déjà vu ended when the results starting coming in. It wasn’t just that Democrats secured two major victories in the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jerseyit was there were historic wins for representation and equality.

Danica Roem, an openly transgender woman was elected to the Virginia state legislature. Not only this, but the incumbent Republican she beat, Robert Marshall, actually called himself the state’s “chief homophobe” and previously introduced a controversial “bathroom bill.” Roem had an incredibly classy response to a question about her predecessor. “I don’t talk about my constituents. Bob is my constituent now,” she said. (Mic. Drop.)

Virginia also elected its first two Latina delegates. Another notable victory included Ravi Bhalla, who is Sikh, being elected mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey (interestingly, Bhalla has called himself “Everything Trump hates”). He is the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey. Vi Lyles was elected mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, the first black woman to hold that post. The list goes onyou can read more about the historic wins in this Vox article.

Today marks one year since the morning many of us woke up worried about the future. There are, of course, still reasons to be worried. But there are also a lot of reasons to be hopeful. In the year since Trump won the election, people looking to make their voices heard have mobilized into movements. On Tuesday, voters showed a rejection of Trump’s rhetoric in favour of acceptance of the very people who Trump speaks out against. The newly elected political representatives now have the power to create real, positive change in America.

This is progress. This is a reason to be hopeful. And it is a reason to keep speaking out and speaking up as we continue to live in the world that was made a reality on this day last year.


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Finding Hope After the U.S. Election

It was late at night and I couldn’t sleep; words like “Pennsylvania” and “Florida” were running through my mind.  I heard screaming, and I couldn’t tell if it was outside my building, on the floor below me or in the hallway, but I knew: Donald Trump had won. He was in the lead when I went to bed. I didn’t stay up to watch the number trickle in and watch CNN make their predictions because I had a story day for journalism the next day. I was ready to write about Hillary Clinton being the first woman President.

I eventually fell asleep and woke up to a text from one of my friends: a string of sad face emojis. Without having seen the official news confirming what I already suspected, I replied with a string of crying emojis. I didn’t cry, though. Not yet. I got dressed (in a black sweater, to “mourn America” as I jokingly texted my friends), ate breakfast, grabbed a copy of the Toronto Star and headed out.

The paper must’ve been printed before the final numbers were in, because although it featured a photo of Trump, the headline didn’t officially proclaim his victory. I’m sure it was a different front page than the journalists had imagined printing after the election. I was setting out to write a very different article than I had thought I would be writing that day.

As I walked around campus, the election results were all I heard people talking about. A group of friends who were walking in front of me started swearing profusely about it. I had half a mind to stop them, press record on my phone and ask for an interview, but I decided against it. When I did find people to interview, they almost always groaned when I said my topic was the U.S. election.

I kept interviewing, kept writing, and eventually submitted my story. Then, I collapsed on my couch, opened YouTube and typed in the words that I still couldn’t wrap my mind around: “Hillary Clinton concession speech”. I watched it, and it was only then, almost 12 hours after I heard the screaming, that the reality of the situation came crashing down on me.

It was then that I understood the true meaning of Michelle Obama’s “When they go low, we go high” quote from the Democratic National Convention in July. As I watched Hillary elegantly concede the dream of being the first woman President of the United States to a man who ran a campaign based around racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, hate… it was then that I cried.

I cried, and then I grabbed some tissues, and wiped away my raccoon eyes. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and promised myself that I was going to keep fighting for what I believe in, and supporting others who are doing the same. I reminded myself that losing the election did not have to mean losing hope. I thought of Pantsuit Nation, the secret Facebook group that Hillary mentioned in her speech, and I thought about all of the other women and men across the world who were feeling the same way as me.

In her concession speech, Hillary said that nothing has made her prouder than to be the champion of the young women who put their faith in her. Although I’m Canadian, and couldn’t have voted in the election, nothing has made me prouder than to watch Hillary Clinton fight for what she believes in, and to watch the positivity and hope that she continues to inspire in others. 

The Hanging Tree, and Hope

I absolutely adore Jennifer Lawrence. So I felt kind of bad when I downloaded The Hanging Tree, which she sings and is featured in Mockingjay Part One, because I had read online that she cried while filming the scene it is in because she hates singing. But I loved the song, so I couldn’t help myself.

When I first saw Mockingjay, I got chills when this song came on. The haunting melody is captivating, and so is the idea of the rebellion that the movie focuses on. Part way through the song, Jennifer’s voice is replaced with more voices; those of the people from the districts who are rebelling.

The rebellion is vehemently opposed by the Capitol; yet people rebel anyways. I’m sure they still fear the Capitol – because, really, how could they not fear a government that sends people away to fight for their deaths? – but they have something stronger than their fear: their hope of the freedom that they would get if the rebellion was successful.

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Credits: Suzanne Collins and Pinterest

I love this quote because it rings true to so many aspects of life. We all have dreams, but we are all sometimes plagued by fear. Often, this is a fear of failure. We can overcome this fear by making our hope of success stronger. I believe that when your hope of success is greater than your fear of failure, you will be successful.

Hope is so powerful. As we see in The Hunger Games books and movies, hope can unite people together to fight for what they believe in and what they are hoping for. Hope is the one ray of sunlight in an otherwise dark room – and the more people who hope, the more rays of light illuminate the darkness.

An individual’s hope can be equally as powerful as a groups’, too. We see this in The Hunger Games as well; through Katniss’s actions in defying the Capitol’s wishes she shows that she has hope for a better life. At the end of The Hunger Games, Katniss pretends to eat poisonous berries along with her fellow tribute Peeta. If they both die, the Capitol will have no winner: so the Capitol is forced to intervene and declare both Katniss and Peeta the winners.

Katniss’s fear in that situation was strong – she was literally seconds away from ending her life in an attempt to defy the Capitol – but her hope that both Peeta and her could survive was stronger. In the end, her hope is what prevailed and this made her fear and bravery worth it.

A lyric in the song The Hanging Tree is, “wear a necklace of hope// side by side with me.” If we all wore a necklace of hope, we could abolish fear and make a difference in the world.

Why I Stopped Wishing at 11:11

It’s not because I’ve suddenly become cynical and grumpy, nor skeptical or doubtful. I didn’t stop wishing at 11:11 because I thought that my wishes weren’t going to come true, nor did I come to a conclusion that the whole thing was dumb and pointless. I stopped making wishes at 11:11, because I realized that I didn’t need to wish for anything.

If you are unfamiliar with the phenomenon known as “wishing at 11:11”, it’s basically what it’s name would suggest: when the clock strikes 11:11, you make a wish. It’s kind of a big deal to some people.

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Part of my realization that I don’t need to wish for anything comes from me wanting to earn success, as opposed to have it handed to me. For example, I could wish for my blog to be successful. But first of all, it is already successful by my own definition of success, and secondly, I wouldn’t want my blog to be successful because of a magical 11:11 wish; I would want it to be successful because I worked hard to earn that success.

I stopped wishing at 11:11 because I realized I didn’t need to wish for my dreams to happen. I can make them happen. I would rather spend my time working hard to make my dream happen, instead of staring at the clock and wishing for it to happen on its own.

I also realized that a lot of things that I would or could wish for at 11:11 are kind of silly, because I already have them. For example, maybe I would wish to “have a really good day today”. Instead of telling that wish to my alarm clock, I think I would be far better suited to make my own day “really good” by doing things that make me happy (or, if all else fails, watching cat videos on Youtube).

To be honest, I think I’d be calmer if I didn’t...
To be honest, I think I’d be calmer if I didn’t…

In a strange way, it is kind of reassuring to not wish at 11:11. Not only does it prevent me from not wasting my time staring at the clock and waiting for it to change, but to me it kind of symbolizes a sense of peace about my life. It is an understanding that I do not need to wish for things to happen, because those things either already exist in my life, or I can make them happen anyways.

If I was to make any wish on 11:11, it would probably be for other people’s 11:11 wishes to come true. My second period class at school is during 11:11, and at my table group as soon as someone says “guys it’s 11:11!” we are all silent for a minute as we make our wishes. The blind hope in these four numbers to make our wishes come true is beautifully hopeful and optimistic.

However, I don’t miss making 11:11 wishes. It’s kind of a frantic minute, thinking of all the possible things to wish for. Wishing for my friends’ wishes to come true is easier; and maybe I would also wish for them to come to the conclusion that the power to make their wishes come true lies not in a clock, but within themselves.

I think part of the reason I enjoyed wishing at 11:11 so much is because of the novelty of it. It is, for lack of  a better word, fun to wait for the clock to display the same digit four times, and then make a wish and hope it comes true. But you know what’s even more fun than making an 11:11 wish?

Making it come true.