Empathy fuels connection. It means looking at the perspective of others, recognizing their emotion and communicating. It’s feeling with people. And it’s a choice.
That choice is one we need to make right now.
I encourage those who didn’t support Trump to try to understand why others supported him. Many people felt that they weren’t represented by their government. And those feelings led to them to support a candidate who labeled himself as anti-establishment.
Trump supporters: you were not the majority. Many people are in shock and hurt. They’re still grappling with a campaign that was based on racism, misogyny and bullying. And they’re afraid that people will use the results to be hateful. And their fears are not unfounded.
The things he has said about women should make anyone — regardless of political affiliation — furious. If you heard a grown man say that he needed a tic-tac because he might just start kissing your daughter without asking her, you wouldn’t like it. Not to mention if he said he could grab her genitalia because he’s famous and no one would stop him. And if you say, “Oh that was locker room talk and no one would actually do that,” you’re wrong. They already are.
People are going to protest. It’s their constitutional right to do so. It’s not whining. You can’t claim that the second amendment is so important but the first amendment isn’t.
Instead of threatening or telling protestors to “get a job” and “stop whining,” take a moment and practice empathy. Listen to why they’re upset. People don’t feel welcome in their own country. People worry their rights as human beings will be taken away.
If you’re thinking that people have nothing to worry about and all of that nonsense is just the media making things up, please check your privilege.
Privilege is never having a stranger yell at you to “go back where you came from.” It’s never having the government tell you what you can and cannot do with your own body. It’s never fearing that if you wear certain clothing because of your religion, you will have a stranger physically attack you.
Your privilege may be because of your skin color, gender or sexual orientation. It’s not your fault you were born that way and experience those privileges. But it is your responsibility to acknowledge them.
When you go to work, check your privilege. If you ever have to deal with police, check your privilege. Whenever you judge someone, check your privilege. Before you start telling people to stop complaining, check your privilege.
Whether you wanted it to or not, the system has worked for you, and now, because you can, it is your responsibility to use that privilege to stand up and work for others.
Don’t spread hate. If you see someone being attacked, help them. Openly talk about privilege and respecting others with your friends. With your children. With everyone.
When they go low, we go high. But that means we must also elevate others around us. Now is the time to stay engaged in local government. Donate to and volunteer for organizations dedicated to making positive change.
Trump supporters, now is your chance to prove us wrong.
Lead with empathy. Check your privilege. Respect everyone.
[I originally posted this essay here.]