I’m pausing my regularly scheduled postings to talk about the American election results. I didn’t plan to and I didn’t expect to. In fact, I had a different post scheduled to publish today. But I lost 2 days of my life to this event and I’ve been so deeply emotionally affected by it that I feel I need to say what’s in my heart, as I’ve vowed to do about the things – good and bad, pretty and ugly – that have affected me this year.
On Wednesday morning, November 9, 2016, I awoke with anticipation. I was about to be a witness to a historical moment. I got out of bed, got ready for the day, got my usual coffee and settled in to watch America’s 2016 election results roll in. I pulled up Google’s live results page and tuned into Buzzfeed’s live results show on Twitter, prepared for a quick outcome. I tried to work while keeping track of the results but I felt so compelled by the unfolding drama that I soon gave up work and instead gave 100% of my attention to what was happening.
I know better than to trust early results, so I wasn’t too alarmed at first when things seemed not to be going as I had hoped and expected. But by 11:30 am Jakarta time (11:30 pm EST), when I realised what was seriously about to go down, a feeling of horror started stealing over me. By 12:15 pm I had realised that there was no coming back from this so I shut down my laptop and went to lie down. I did that. I actually had to go lay down. I was in shock and I honestly couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. I had to take a moment to process what was happening and what it meant.
After about an hour, I got up again because I didn’t have the luxury of spending the rest of the day in bed, curled in a foetal position and sobbing like somebody had died. When the local volunteers started rolling in for classes, my shock and horror were reflected on every face. There isn’t one Indonesian or expatriate who I personally I know who could believe what had happened. To be honest, I haven’t trusted the American voter for about a decade now, ever since George Bush’s reelection, but even I never really thought that this would actually happen.
My disappointment was, and continues to be, severe but misunderstood. This isn’t about me thinking the world is going to go down in flames because of who the American president is. I don’t think that will happen, although I think that certainly there are changes coming for all of us in one way or another. I know exactly who reigns on high always, and the result of these elections doesn’t at all shake my faith that God is in control. My disappointment comes from learning just how hateful America has told the world that it is.
Of course, most of the people who voted for the new president-elect are either saying that they cast their vote against the thieving, lying Washington political establishment and at least the new president is honest about his position on things; or they are saying that their vote wasn’t about hating anyone but about protecting their interests. Either way, this doesn’t say good things. On the one hand, they’re saying that they would rather be represented by a person who is a creepy sexual predator (and would likely be in jail for that if he wasn’t a wealthy white man) and hates anyone who doesn’t look like him. On the other hand, they’re saying that they are so selfish that what matters most to them is their own economic situation and not what their decision means for millions of other people.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to demonise anyone, because I know there are good people among his supporters. I’m just trying to understand. For example, I want to know how they explain their decision to their children.
In particular, I am genuinely puzzled by why women or people of colour or immigrants or Christians voted for him. But to be honest, the Christians are probably the group that stumps me the most. The basis of Christ’s ministry was love, His message to us was to love one another, He specialised in loving the unloveable. So how do Christians explain voting for someone who is the epitome of hate and bigotry? I’m genuinely confused by this and I’m leaving myself open to the possibility that I’ve missed something in the reasoning. But so far, no-one has been able to explain it to me in a way that makes sense so it’s likely that I will never understand. I know I sound judgy and I’m pretty sure I’m being judgy and I really don’t want to be, but I’m so confused and horrified right now that I’m not sure I’m succeeding. Still, I’ll continue to try.
Now, after a few tears (while I watched the losing candidate’s words to little girls and young women everywhere) it’s time for me to get back to real life and work, even as I continue to grieve a little because I lost something over these 2 days that I’ll likely never get back. But even in my grief, I will continue to follow the only instruction that matters to me in the final analysis:
Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39 (CEV)