My friends in the nonprofit sector. This has been a brutal, divisive, ugly, bitter election cycle, and I’m glad it is ending. If you are like me, you can’t focus on anything, since the Apocalypse may be coming this week. You are probably checking the news obsessively, alternately hopeful and distraught, depending on the headlines. Seeing the word “email” anywhere instantly raises your blood pressure. You may be wishing you had a nice cabin somewhere off the grid, near a stream, away from civilization, where you and your family can grow plants and gather mushrooms and berries and use solar panels to generate your own electricity. A cabin away from polls and tweets and television ads and pundits. But with satellite access so you can get Netflix. Also, maybe a microwave. And, like, a flushing toilet.
If you’re like me, you’re worried for our country, for your family, for your neighbors, for the environment, for fellow human beings in other parts of the world, for the strength of our democracy, and for the Oxford Comma. Seriously, this election is terrifying and stressful, like planning a golf tournament fundraiser, but worse. Depending on what happens this week, life as we know it may change completely. Or cease to exist. In light of all this, I just want to let you know…we’re going to be OK.
It’s OK to feel horrible. But we’re going to be fine, because look around you, we’re awesome! Our sector, the nonprofit sector, has been the equalizer in the face of awful stuff happening in our world. Quietly, with little fanfare, we do our work. No matter who becomes president, we will continue to move forward to create a better, safer, more beautiful, more compassionate world. That’s what we do, regardless of whom is elected or which party controls which governing body. Yes, this election has been draining, bringing out some of the ugliest traits in people (and some of the scariest costumes this Halloween). It has normalized horrible behaviors and philosophies that were previously buried in the darkest depths of the human souls and which manifested mostly in the comment sections of online articles. You may be worried that because these horrifying thoughts are out in the open, it will be impossible to contain them.
But, there are more of us on the side of compassion and community than there are those on the side of hatred and bigotry—they just happen to be louder. Though it is a long and often grueling battle, the good in humanity always prevails over the bad. This is in part because of us and the work that we in this sector are committed to doing:
In the face of racism, we work to address systemic oppression—in housing, in education, in the economy. We have difficult conversations, we challenge and support each other, we reflect, and we change laws and practices.
In the face of xenophobia, we work to support immigrants and refugees, to defeat hatred and othering, to build a community where diversity is recognized not as a threat but as the strength that it is.
In the face of misogyny and sexism, we work to advance gender equity, to reverse a culture and a history of under-appreciation and mistreatment of half the population. We work for equal pay and economic success, for access to healthcare and education for women and girls around the world.
In the face of homophobia and transphobia, we work to further understanding and support, to change discriminatory and hateful policies, to end bullying.
In the face of ableism, we work to make spaces accessible, to educate each other, to bring awareness, to question assumptions, to create places welcoming to everyone.
In the face of environmental degradation, we work to contain human-made climate change, to preserve our natural resources, to clean polluted rivers, to protect indigenous rights.
In the face of hopelessness, we bring hope. In the face of loneliness, we build community. In the face of despair, we create art.
That’s just some of the stuff a bunch of us are doing every day. None of it is easy. And we don’t always succeed at it. And there’s a ton of things we still suck at and it’s going to take us a while to really get it. But we keep moving forward, because we see the world as it could be, and we see the goodness in our fellow community members. The existing injustice often seems insurmountable, and this election cycle has not exactly been helping. But we should remember that our community always rallies, and humanity always triumphs. As Theodore Parker, a 19th Century minister who fought for the abolishment of slavery, and who was paraphrased by Martin Luther King Jr., said:
“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”
Our eyes “reach but little ways.” We cannot see into the future. So we forget, especially during times like these, the amazing things people are doing each day to make the world better. People like you. You are making the world better every day through your work. That arc of the moral universe does not bend itself; everything we do helps to bend it.
Go vote if you haven’t done it already. It matters. But whatever happens, it’s not the end. If the unthinkable happens, it may be a few rough years, but the US and world have dealt with worse and came out stronger. We will continue to build a strong, vibrant, awesome community. That’s what we have always done; that’s what we will continue to do. Because remember, we’re sexy Jedi unicorns who stab injustice with our horns of equity and bring balance to the world.
The Apocalypse is not coming. But just to be sure, let’s stock up on food and tequila.
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