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A Window to Our World: Acceptance and Uncertainty

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Photos and story by Karina Castrillo for The Style Line

Social media is a forceful communicator of our generation, but the hashtags #HesNotMyPresident

and #StillWithHer cannot change the outcome of our election. This is democracy, and as President Obama advised that means the peaceful transition of power.

So as a whimpering child with teary eyes and grinding teeth we are forced to accept that after a man like Obama, it is a starkly different man who will govern our country and will act peaceably with other nations, will tactfully discuss sensitive issues with leaders who have already felt a whiplash of hostility from his dialogue.

 

The morning of the election outcome I had woken up in Paris to the call of my French friend in hysterics, “Oh la la! I think Trump is the new President!” It was still 2 a.m. in New York and Americans were staying awake to watch anxiously how the electoral votes turned states to unquestionable, permanent, unchangeable red. And as I watched him surpass 270 from my side of the world, dark thoughts sunk into the core of that oddly shaped bloody boom box we call a heart where we are supposed to idolize the good, where we adhere to decency and dignity, kindness and respect, qualities the leader and greatest influencer of our country must value, but does not, and somehow he won our people’s hearts. I was in disbelief, but the pang of sadness reached me too on the metro when I watched the quiet faces of French commuters reading the news on their mobile phones and they were also somber, they were also affected. President Hollande voiced what we and the rest of our hearts echoed, “We are entering a time of uncertainty.”

Uncertainty is the exact sentiment. I for one question what will happen to my best friends. They are immigrants pursuing their master’s degree, hardworking, brilliant students who were hoping that Clinton could legalize their stay in the country. My lesbian friends in Minnesota were planning their wedding at a beautiful library in the autumn season and they have now paused their wedding plans, a painful decision for a woman in love. A Muslim friend has been saving money each month to gather enough to move to America, but those gates could be closed now.

We have to accept the outcome of the election, but we are afraid of what we’ll lose. We fear losing our rights to abortion, gay marriage, but more than that we fear that one day we will look outside our window to a society of violence, where common decency is out of trend, where ambition and bullying and belittling is the norm.

Maybe we are dramatizing the outcome some say, we have to accept and hope for the best. I would like to hope so, but the realization that it is the President who chooses the Supreme Court Justice who will preside over our laws, and the fact that it is a Republican party who won the majority at the Senate and the House, means that the wave of uncertainty is dramatized and it also spreads outside the borders of America.

As an expat living abroad, I interact with people of different ethnic backgrounds, I’ve traveled to forgotten tiny Turkish towns and overheard locals discuss Obama in their dialect, and I realize the immense impact that our country has in the world. U.S. politics affects more than our U.S. residents – it sends a code heard through the radio stations of people in huts, in the desert, on a mountain top, whose country’s name or language we Americans may not have heard of, whose geographical location we do not know, but they know us.

I mention it not to augment the feeling of patriotic grandeur of Americans, but simply to state that our vote makes a difference to a great many people of the world we do not consider, a great many people who could be affected with the decisions of the leader of the free world.

And my thought is bleak – I woke up in Paris and I had not voted. I had left the request for my absentee ballot on my bedside table because in the midst of day-to-day distractions, school exams and moving apartments, I prioritized it as the least of my concerns. It was not an immediate effect on my daily life.

My home state of Florida is a swing state and was won by Trump this election. The belief that my vote was unnecessary or that I was too busy, the speculation that people think like me and that the polls are in favor has all turned to dust before my eyes and I regret deeply that I did not practice my civic duty. Others could have had the same mindset and it could have made the difference.

Donald Trump will represent us as the President of the United States of America. Begrudgingly, we have to uphold democracy and allow him a chance at the Oval Office instead of revolting. If I learned anything from this election it is that the ridiculous is possible (Trump did win), that your vote counts even if ironically the popular vote doesn’t elect the candidate, and that we must vote always and responsibly for our causes, for our friends’ causes, for strangers abroad. Our values are still important, and as Hillary Clinton said, “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

A Window To Our World is an exclusive series featuring commentary from those in our growing global community surrounding the events of this tumultuous election. These stories will be rolled out through the rest of the year and our hope is that we can encourage young people from across the world to join in, contribute stories like this and utilize our platform to share, connect and offer actionable insight to bring our world closer together to repair and rebuild. If you are interested in being part of this series please email rschwartzmann@thestyleline.com with the subject line “The Style Line: A Window To Our World” for more information.