Opinion: Where do we go from here?

By Joseph Rojo | November 10, 2016 10:04am

Joseph Rojo is a biology and spanish major at the University of Portland.

On election night, the moment I saw Clinton struggling in Pennsylvania and that she was behind in Michigan and Wisconsin, I tried to be hopeful but I knew Trump was going to win. I went into a mental state of shock and kind of just became numb. 

It wasn’t that Trump won that was upsetting or sad to me, but rather it was the realization that around half our nation – to some degree – are against so many different marginalized groups.  As an ethnic minority and a child and grandchild of immigrants, I was overtaken in fear in the realization that about half the country supports a rhetoric of fear and hate towards my personhood and after much thought the question arose: can I blame them for that fear and hate?

So many people feel abandoned, isolated and left behind by a globalizing and ever-changing world. They feel ignored and for many people, Trump finally heard them. I can’t justify their fear and hate but at the very least I can understand where it’s coming from.

 I also realized in this moment how much division exists in our nation.  Prior to election night, I was living in a bubble where I thought people were more inclusive, loving, understanding and empathetic than they have shown to be. I went into a state of mourning. However, I, and those who are feeling the same way that I am, cannot stay in this state of being so the inevitable question arises: where do we go from here?

This election has revealed the huge divides in our nation, and we cannot just sit back and go back to a state of ignorance.  As easy as it would be to respond to the hurt many of us feel with anger, rage or hate, no good will come from this. Rather, it is time to respond with empathy, understanding and love. 

I will not say that as a nation we have to all unite because for me the wounds and divisions are too deep right now, but at least it is time to listen and to empathize with those who are and who have been hurting. 

There are many people on both sides who feel hurt, left behind, have resentment toward the other side and the only way for us to deal with this is to actually talk and listen to each other instead of demonizing and polarizing each other.  I have seen many liberals and conservatives believe their ideas are absolutely correct and that the other side is wrong and then they demonize each other. This gets us nowhere in understanding each other, in understanding each other's hurt and in understanding each other’s fear.   

Where do we go from here? At least for me, I will mourn today and validate the fear I’m feeling and then tomorrow it’s time to be courageous and mobilize. And instead of mobilizing out of hate and fear, it is time to mobilize out of love, understanding and empathy.

Joseph Rojo is a senior biology and spanish major and can be reached at rojo17@up.edu.