By, Meghan Serceki | Opinion Editor
November 15, 2016
Tuesday night, the world watched in awe, and I, like many, in fear.
Just that morning, I had been filled with hope for the future of our country. The legacy of diversity, acceptance, and stewardship established over the past eight years seemed ready to bound into another term and give promise to our nation.
Then, suddenly, it didn’t.
Caitlyn Klemm, a junior, notes, “I’m honestly still in complete shock. I just can’t believe it happened.”
That night, and nearly every night since, I cried. I cried for our country, for our world, for all people across the globe facing discrimination, for our planet, for our lives.
We see ourselves as a great example–as a paradigm of democracy upholding “liberty and justice for all.” Yet we elected someone with a message of ignorance and prejudice who repeatedly ostracized minority groups and women and who has outwardly denounced some of the freedoms we as Americans hold dear: freedom of religion, of the press, of expression, and of much else. We elected someone with a call for the mass deportation of eleven million people living among us. We elected someone with a plan to ban an entire religion from our country. We elected someone with a show of intolerance, racism, and sexism.
That night, I kept thinking to myself, but there’s nothing I can do. There’s nothing I can do. There’s nothing I can do, over and over and over again.
In the past few days, I have heard many say this same thing. I have heard them say that protesting the new president-elect will mean nothing–will accomplish nothing.
However, I disagree. We deserve time to grieve. We deserve a moment–however long that may be–to scream, to yell, to cry. We deserve the opportunity to mourn.
I understand that we cannot change the outcome of this election. I understand that we cannot simply override our democracy because we are unhappy with the people’s decision. I understand that we, as the state of California, cannot just secede from the United States as some have proposed.
But I also understand that we cannot grow complacent. We cannot simply run away from our problems and migrate to other countries because we are disillusioned with our own. We cannot just readily accept this fate of bigotry and hatefulness and move silently on with our lives. We cannot go quietly. We cannot be the silent majority.
We must make our voices heard. We must make it clear that we will not go quietly even though it might seem as if we can’t do anything. We must not bow our heads and let intolerance and discrimination engulf our virtuous nation. We must fight.
This election, we had one of the all-time low voter turnouts in history with only 55% of eligible citizens casting their ballots. Even during our highest year in history, only 64% of those who could vote chose to participate in the democratic process.
According to Sophia Noble, a junior at San Clemente High School, “some couldn’t relate to either candidate’s opinions and decided not to vote altogether.”
Even some of those who voted seemed to disregard their obligations as citizens of the United States with nearly 11,000 of them writing in “Harambe” on their ballots.
While there remains no way of knowing if increased voter turnout would have changed the results of the election, we can gather one thing from this: we, as a nation, have grown too apathetic about the fate of our country.
Let this be a wake-up call to humanity.
Many are hopeful that perhaps this next presidency won’t be as horrible and foreboding as it seems now. And perhaps it won’t be.
Even at its mildest, the next era of our nation will be trying. It will test us. It will challenge our values. It will be taxing. It will be, at times, ugly. It will threaten some of the great moral gains we have made over the past few years.
However, it will require us to awake from our slumber. It will require us to stand up for benevolence, for acceptance, for conservancy, for compassion. It will require us all to find our voice. The best cannot afford to lack all conviction.
As Hillary Clinton urged when she conceded the race to her opponent, “let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary, let us not lose heart, for there are more seasons to come. And there is more work to do.”