Thursday 10 November 2016

the morning after and the fight ahead

Heart sick.
Gut wrenched.

I'm very tender this morning as I gaze upon the hopeful pantsuit of yesterday.

My husband sweetly consoled me as we said goodbye today: "I'm feeling sad, too, but not as viscerally as you are." The non-writer in the family once again providing the words I could not find.

As I watched the electoral counts roll in yesterday I felt the wind knocked out of me. Every value I hold for equality, fairness and freedom - my supposed 'American idealism' - stomped into the deep red earth of my homeland.

As a female environmentalist and social justice activist I have always felt the Trump campaign hostile toward my entire being - in my body as a woman, and in my job as an activist (and I am a privileged white woman! I can't begin to understand how others feel). He is the embodiment of the dying patriarchal hyper-capitalist world that must end if we are to survive, and he went kicking and screaming through the end of the campaign to hold on to this 'power' for a little bit longer. As the results were finalised I felt knocked to the ground.

I just kept thinking, "What do I do now?" with a US President who is a climate denialist? There is so much work to be done. So much more work than I'd even imagined.

But even while mourning, I felt enraged as well.

In the midst of my despair I attended an event I'd previously booked featuring my hero, Naomi Klein. From her books No Logo and Shock Doctrine, to her recent work on Capitalism vs the Climate, she's long offered me new ways of addressing some of the problems I see in the world. She pointed out that the election was the result of a system in collapse. The neoliberal system has failed too many people, and we see the effects through this election, Brexit, and even the GFC in 2008. And if we don't fill it with something that people can believe in, fascism will fill that void.

She also reminded us that we must dust ourselves off, gather, communicate and organise. This is our opportunity to halt not just the climate crisis but so many global injustices that become more apparent with the effects of climate change.

The event also featured a panel of inspiring and committed women working in the field, including Maria Tiimon Chi-Fang, a woman from Kiribati who spoke of the impending loss of her culture, her people and her identity along with their land should climate change continue to go unchecked. We also heard from Murrawah Johnson, a Wirdi woman and spokesperson for the Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council, campaigning to stop the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine. She also spoke passionately about the environmental movement as a fight for her life, her culture, Aboriginal survival.

The evening was a reminder that challenges can divide or unite us, and as the title of the evening suggests, "To change everything, we need everyone."

This is not the time to be afraid or to deepen divides. It is not the time to flee America or turn our backs on its people - my people. It is a time to come together, to talk, to listen, to really understand one another, so that we can continue the progress we've already made. The stakes are way too high to ignore it.

This morning, in the clear light of day, I am heartened by the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. And by the fact that I know people voted for Trump who do not agree with his misogyny, racism, bigotry, or climate denialism. I know that so many of my countrymen and women do believe we are stronger together, and hold similar values to my own.

So I'll mourn, but just briefly.

As I type this I'm already dusting myself off, drying my tears, and gathering strength for the fight ahead. It really is the fight of our lives. If you haven't been involved in the climate movement yet, we need you now more than ever. Every single day of the Trump presidency and the Republican-held Senate and (likely) Supreme Court, we have to fight harder than we ever have before. It's time for all of us to put our hearts, minds and bodies on the line to create the world we all believe is possible.

And this time, the system can keep its pantsuits. We'll win wearing whatever we damn well please. 

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