This morning I woke up to read the story about Harvard immediately canceling the remainder of the men’s soccer team season as the result of a revelation of ongoing sexual harassment. It is a bold and unequivocal move, penalizing some who may not have participated. Or did they? Is not speaking up complicity? Was it only the soccer team or is it more prevalent as one female soccer player said? This behavior is unfortunately new, what is new is the effort to address.
I have been grateful for Kirsten Gillibrand here in New York who has worked on how sexual assaults on college campuses and in the military are handled. You don’t have to look very hard to find the accounts of women who bravely strode up to police stations and campus offices to report a rape only to be told they were less victim than they were cause.
The last couple of years have brought up a lot of unfamiliar vocabulary that some people refuse to embrace. It’s hard, I get it, embarrassing even. As I parent I have to go back and relive some of the decisions I made, I am not proud of all of them, but they are a part of who I am, who I have been, and who I can work toward becoming. The truth is some of these words and phrases are hard for me to use precisely for the way I know certain people feel about them.
What I’d like to do is offer places to go and read about them. You can do it privately, you can disagree, you can process, whatever it takes. What happened at Harvard and what happens at colleges and conferences all across the country is a part of why we need to acknowledge these words.
I’ve even struggled with posting the Hillary 2016 bumper stickers I have. We have them displayed at home, I have tweeted the hashtag #ImWithHer , but even as I finally put the bumper sticker in the window of my car two days ago, I have feared what people would think or do.
Then I saw this:
I am very comfortable saying that I am not him and furthermore that I do not want to contribute to a world that encourages, even silently, people like him.
I want to be like Harvard.
This means that all these words that make us uncomfortable need to get normalized so that we can truly see what we are supporting. Donald Trump will lose his cool, he will continue to rewrite the rules, evade the truth, make rash decisions, and take women’s rights and racial issues back decades. Hillary Clinton has demonstrated a commitment to public service, expertise in conflict resolution, listening, and maintaining superhuman calm in the face of attacks, lies, and the general drag that being a politician in America has. Donald Trump is full of hate and rage, but this isn’t about candidates, it is about our country and the people in it—all of us. We need to look toward what the person voted into office will do to/for our country in 2017. Tax breaks mean nothing if the environment is ignored. Immigration means nothing if our foreign relations become weak. Homelessness, poverty, and mental health issues can never get the support they need if the richest among us continue to leverage every loophole to keep their wealth and blame people for their circumstances. Eliminating abortion access will not save babies, it will kill mothers. Double standards on the law, sexism, intelligence, and credibility will leave us with a lemon. Voting for a third-party candidate in this race or writing in a name will not help the broken system we have now.
We need to avoid a 2017 with a commander-in-chief who does not put the country and the individuals in it first. We need to care enough to vote. We need to continue to care in 2017 with local elections. Let us build up third-party candidates and demand more of those representing the two major parties.
We all contributed to getting us where we are today, but we can also work together to change our course. We can be more than great, we can be a United States of America.