I cried in the shower today, and if you were wondering, this is not a normal occurrence.
Today is Election Day in the USA and as I’m typing this, the polls are starting to close and reports will start to be posted online.
This is not my first time voting, and I certainly hope it won’t be my last, but I can say with certainty that this has certainly been the most polarizing election season I’ve ever lived through.
I can’t fully describe why, but I am. I’m unsure it is mostly for myself, the country I call home, those who may be affected more than me, or any combination of constituencies affected by the events of today at polling places across these…united states.
I am a first-generation American, the middle of three born to two Filipino immigrants.
I am a disabled Navy submarine veteran.
I am a college graduate. #GoBeach
I am a divorced male.
I am a #FaceOfMentalIllness and I #LiveBrave
I am an ally of the LGBTQ community.
I am a tattooed professional.
I am a teacher.
I am a Christian.
But today, one thing really mattered: I am a registered voter.
I voted today. #309
But I’m still scared.
I wept in the shower, thinking about how important today is in American history.
I wept in my car after I voted, having voted for a woman to be the President of the United States of America.
I wept driving down the road later this afternoon, thinking about my students and how many of them (between 5th and 8th grade) realize how insane this election season has been, some of them worrying about their parents and family members and friends will be affected.
I wept thinking about how we, as the people of these United States of America will get what we deserve, and that no matter what the outcome is of this election, I will still be safe in a love much greater than any Commander in Chief, demagogue, dictator, or legislative system.
I worry about the babies in this election, that what they’ve been brought into is none of their faults.
I worry that the extreme hypothetical situations satirized in tv shows and written materials will come true to some extent and that World War III is just over the horizon.
Above all these worries and fears and tears (as cliché as it may be) is love.
I tweeted earlier today:
“Americans, don’t give up on the US.
US, don’t give up on Americans.”
And over the course of the day, my social media ticker was filled with posts about those who voted.
Later in the afternoon I saw a couple posts regarding how to move to Canada with the accompanying commentary, “For those who are serious, come tomorrow.”
No, the USA is not the greatest country in the world, and it doesn’t need to be “made great again” either.
What it is to me is home. A land that those in my family of origin came to voluntarily to give their children a better life with more opportunities. A land that I swore to defend against all enemies foreign AND domestic. A land that has allowed me to live and love and fail and succeed as I see fit through the choices that I make in this God-given body with this God-given mind and soul.
And that’s why I voted today. Not because it’s my “civic duty,” or because we’re “supposed” to…but because we get to. Because I believe my vote DOES matter, and because if there’s one thing I learned as a child that I have found to be more useful and powerful than just about anything else as an adult it is this–use your voice.
I’ll say it again:
USE YOUR VOICE.
Whether it is in a vote, by cheering for someone else, telling stories, educating others, asking for help, offering help, praying, wailing, mourning, crying, writing a blog, a tweet, a post…what have you… Use your voice.
Because whatever ends up being heard, whether it is a presidential victor, a third party presence, a revealing of ugly truths, or what…we can’t fix what we don’t know.
This election is not America’s season finale.
This is not a surprise uprising of behaviors we have so masterfully avoided as an American populace.
This is an inflammation of decades of disorganization, deception, scared citizens, and vocal radicals.
I’ll say it again, we, as a country, are going to get what we deserve.
And I’m scared because of it.
But tomorrow, I will still wake up and get ready for work. I will head back to campus and teach those children to the best of my ability, and I will use my voice in a way that will teach others to use theirs, show them it’s ok if they do, and continue to use my voice to let them know they should (as long as they raise their hands first and wait to be called on).