I’ve always lived in a place where my rights and freedoms as a woman of a visible minority have not been threatened during my lifetime. There is much to be thankful about that in itself. I have to keep reminding myself that though I feel devastated by the 2016 American election results, it is not me who will suffer directly.
This could be a time for a summary of my political stance or how I feel about what happened last night, but instead, I want to talk about morality and something that makes me feel hopeful in times of despair: my good old friend, Fyodor Dostoevsky (whom you should thank for the handy dandy quote used in my title).
If you haven’t read the Brothers Karamazov (from which the quote was plucked), please do. When you get to the middle/end of the book, you’ll come across something known as the mythic prosaic, or the idea that in order to overcome spite and hatred, one must do good. And as self-evident as that is, I fear that not many people subscribe to it. Most people I know, including myself, respond to spite and hate with more spite and hate, and it grows and grows exponentially until we are all overcome with spite and hate.
Such as the election, one could say.
But goodness, when chosen to be reciprocated, has the same effect. And though it is difficult to get started, once goodness gets rolling, it doesn’t stop. Someday, I hope I will be good enough to achieve that.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of days to think about my rhetoric in response to the elections and I can guarantee it was not filled with the compassion I wish I were filled with. Trump’s win makes me feel spiteful, and I continually choose to feel spiteful. I don’t understand, nor do I want to understand.
I feel like this attitude comes from the fact that we choose to surround ourselves with like-minded people, which is why the spiteful act of unfriending people on Facebook because of differing (emphasis on differing, not necessarily harmful) beliefs undermines our ability to see the world in its entirety. Evil exists, and it flourishes when we let it flourish. We feed it spite and hate and it grows. But when we choose compassion, we inevitably choose to embrace evil with a hope of fostering goodness.
Fun fact: passion (subsequently compassion) comes from the latin root patior – to suffer.
I don’t blame anyone for being spiteful when things seem to be horrible. I don’t blame anyone for electing not to be compassionate because it is difficult.
But even if you feel that your romps of compassion lead you nowhere, please don’t feel like that’s the end of it. There are youth right now sitting in their classrooms, watching as this all unfolds, and paying attention to the decisions we, as the older generation, make, hoping to gain some insight as to how the world works. And if we’re careful enough – compassionate enough – perhaps they’ll be empowered enough to take steps towards fixing the mistakes that people have made in the past.
And that, I think, speaks volumes as to the potential of goodness this world has to offer. I remain very hopeful for the future of those marginalized, and I sincerely hope you do too.