There are a range of topics I could talk about with everything happening in the news. As a former Environmental Studies major, I’m drawn to articles addressing climate change and the current administration’s war against science. But – I’m going to spare you and tell a story instead.
I’ve always been an eternal optimist – I pride myself in finding the good in the bad, the silver lining in a poor situation. My grandma died my sophomore year of college, and that was the hardest loss I’ve ever faced. Yet, Maddie-the-Optimist was able to find the good in the situation. My friends, professors, and administration really came through for me, offering their support through hugs, counseling, and even a bundt-cake-for-one (…one sad Maddie).
Since the election, I have had increasing difficulty being that optimist. Someone called me a “recently baptized cynic,” which was…unfortunate, but true. One only has to read the headlines to find themselves dispirited with news about DACA being rescinded, our national monuments standing reduction, climate change deniers denying, um, science. (Shall I continue?)
Last week, DACA news was topping the headlines and filling up my Facebook newsfeed. Yet, amongst the sadness and the fear was my family friend, Kathy, calling for a gathering – to make reusable protest signs in anticipation of the protests to come over the next few years. I liked this – 1) because I was an Environmental Studies major in college, and this seemed like a smart use of paper resources, and 2) because I like Kathy.
I don’t like crafting (*see below), but coming together for this cause reminded me of some good to have come from this election. We’re coming together. People are getting engaged and involved politically for the first time in their lives – the old, the young, and everyone in between! Beyond that, people are becoming activists, finding empowerment within themselves and inspiring others to take action, whether it’s taking to the streets in protest or contacting their Congressional leaders.
I’m 24 years old, so it’s very difficult for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel and see this for what it likely is: a blip in our history. I have to hold on to the hope that, through all the tumult and the strife…how can I keep from singing? Sorry – couldn’t help myself there. But seriously: I have to believe we’ll be stronger, more united, more aware, more engaged, more a lot of things.
That said, we have to acknowledge that hate exists. Unfortunately, hateful people (ahem, neo-Nazis) have been empowered to speak out. But, let me take this opportunity to try and find a silver lining. That hate isn’t new and has existed for some time, but it has done so hidden and festering in the corners. Bringing it to light (at least to those of us who didn’t see or have to experience it before) allows us to face it head on and confront it, calling it out for what it is. I’m not saying it’s easy – it’s hard. It’s easy for me to write these things and put on a happy face, but truly believing it is another matter entirely.
What’s not hard to believe is that there are people like Kathy – many people! There are people gathering, showing up, and speaking out. People are doing that hard thing and confronting difficulties head on and holding others accountable to their actions and their words. So if I have to find a silver lining to what happened last November, it is just that: we’re here, and we’re here together.
How-to-Craft-Even-if-You-Kind-of-Hate-It (Sorry/Not Sorry, Kathy):
If you haven’t made a reusable protest sign, let me be of aid. Kathy and Co. used “chalkboard sticker paper” and/or “dry erase board sticker paper” stuck to two poster papers (yay for double-sided signs) – held together with Elmer’s Rubber Cement. And don’t forget the measuring stick for your handle! We used packing tape to attach that to the backside of one of the poster papers.
I will be (wo)manning the table at the Provo Pride Festival this Friday, but if you’re not in the Provo vicinity, get crafty, bring your sign, and show up for this Saturday’s “We Are All Dreamers” march. You might even see Kathy.