The events of this past Wednesday brought so many emotions: despair, anger, confusion, disgust... Maybe, more than anything, I am disappointed. At a meeting just last week, as folks discussed whether or not we could make it to inauguration day without some degree of chaos, I was the lone individual in the group who thought we could. I was optimistic that, when it all came down to it, both our president and our citizens would remember that our democracy is sacred. That we are fortunate to get to choose our leaders (albeit indirectly and through an arguably outdated system), versus receiving them via appointment, birthright, or violent takeover. That, although our preferred candidate may not always win, the will of the people trumps all. That the right to free and fair elections is foundational. That the peaceful transition of power is a tradition that fundamentally underlies the dignity of our political system.
I am, and even during that discussion was, realistic. I am aware of the deep divides in this country and of the systemic and psychological underpinnings that have contributed to them. I am, after all a psychologist. I am aware that we have imperfect systems in place that, in many cases, are not meeting the needs of our people. I know that there are shortcomings in our political system that sometimes result in the wrong people gaining power and influence, that ignore or excuse abhorrent behavior, and that stifle the voices of those who choose to dissent. I know.
The truth remains, however, that I am somebody who believes in the inherent goodness of people and I am firmly committed to the idea that people, even those who appear broken or who make deeply troubling choices, can grow over time and can resurrect themselves. I would not be successful in my career if I did not maintain these beliefs, nor do I think I would be an appropriate community leader without them. Despite my sorrow about the current state of affairs in our country and my outrage at the events that unfolded this week, I remain hopeful that, with enough people who want more and who are willing to actively strive for better, we will make it through this tough time and come out the other side stronger and more united.
All the unrest we have been witnessing is, to me, the best indicator of all that we are yearning for change and I hope to be an active agent in ensuring that change is realized. Whether my vehicle toward being a part of that forward momentum is City Council or something else is yet to be determined, but I will not stop moving. A few years back, when I was feeling particularly powerless, my husband shared this Robert Alden quote with me and I continue to reflect back on it when I am discouraged: "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of one small candle."
We can and will do better.