On November 8, I voted for love, but went to bed that same night filled with hate. It was a fever I’d need to extinguish by morning when I faced the impossible task of explaining this tragedy to my three daughters.
Like so many others, I couldn’t sleep on election night. I tossed and turned as I struggled with how I would make my girls feel safe in a country run by someone whose hateful behavior they witnessed and whose heartless words they clearly heard exit his dry lips. A 10-year-old cannot unsee that. No amount of media or political commentary can take that back. How, then, would I tell my children that everything was going to be okay? How could I possibly spin this into a positive or urge them to turn lemons into lemonade?
For the next four years every mother must choose her words wisely. Indeed, if there is one thing this election has brought to light, it’s that every American’s reality is little more than neatly packaged words. We all vote according to our news network of choice. After all, who doesn’t love to have their beliefs reaffirmed day in and day out? Truth is whatever you want it to be. Imagine what the world would be like if all the networks and newspapers ever ran was Good News.
Donald Trump became his own channel. His message was that he is a great and powerful winner who can make this country as great as he believes himself to be. That sounds a lot like the American Dream to me: Reach for the stars! You can achieve anything you set your mind to! There’s nothing you can’t do!
Need I go on?
Of course the message resonated. It wasn’t new or different. Unless you’re a millennial (and how many of them voted for Trump?), it was like returning home after a long journey and wrapping yourself up in an old blanket. We all want the American Dream. We all want to believe that we can have it all. We just know we’re not ambitious enough to really try. So instead, we latch on to people like Donald Trump because we know, for sure, that he believes in himself — if not in his country, its people, or its political system. But that’s all it takes folks. And that’s not a terrible lesson to walk away with in the days, weeks, and years that follow this stunning upset. If little American boys and girls are dazzled by anything that Donald Trump represents, I hope it is his infectious self-confidence.
Although I would never suggest that my children resort to denigrating others for the purposes of self-promotion, I do hope that they learn about power and how it is won. As we have seen here, power comes from within. It starts and ends with the one who proclaims it, demands it, and refuses to believe in any other alternative. Period. Hard stop.
So that is how I intend to explain this to my girls. I will admit that we have witnessed something truly incredible — namely, the power of believing in one’s own self above all else. When you do that, it doesn’t matter where you come from, how inexperienced you may be, or what advantages or disadvantages you may have. That’s just baggage and tools. All you need is you.
As you’ve seen here in this election, anything can be achieved if you act in accordance with your unwavering belief that it can and will be so. To that end, I’ll encourage my girls to make this their driving truth. I pray they’ll use that power to achieve what is just and good. I believe they will. But first, they must have the confidence to know they can.
This post was originally published on BlogHer.