As a veteran, I proudly served this country. I am a US Marine and I served this country to protect the all of the freedoms that we all have. Even the freedom to hate this country, to disagree with the status quo, to stand up and let voices be heard to bring change.
In these past few days I've felt a tremendous sense of sadness, fear, terror, anger and despair. The day after the election I walked to work suspect of everything and everyone around me. I was so full of fear that I wanted to hide. My normal way of being in the world where I smile and say hello to everyone had changed. I was withdrawn, head down and looking at the ground the whole way. Hiding. Trying to not be noticed.
On one hand I do have that privilege of hiding during this dark time. I am white and on most days I pass as male. I have the option of shedding those clothes, growing my hair out and not being myself for the next four years while the country falls apart under this regime and my community gets bashed or beaten or killed. I have the option to live for the next four years in fear and terror and let the bullies win. I have the privilege of being able to hide. I recognize that privilege.
But, I can't choose that path. My soul cannot choose that path. I can't chose the path of fear and let the bullies win. I can't live a lie and deny my friends and family and community. I can't stand on the sidelines and watch as people attack each other out of their own fear and hate.
I won't live in hiding. I am proud of who I am. It's taken me a long time to come to this point, to fully be me in all of my authenticity. I've survived the looks and stares and attacks in the public bathrooms. I've changed people's minds along the way, as well. I've done all of that out of love and respect for myself and those who came before me. I've done all of it for those who will come after me. I will not hide. I will stand up with my community and I will stand up to the bullies because I will not let them win. I will not let them beat me down. I will keep standing up no matter how hard they push me.
I choose to live with love and peace and to lead by example. To peacefully protest with those who think like me because we have to be heard. We have to join together in this dark time. We have to unify. It's the only way to survive these next four years.
I've felt knocked down these past few days but today I am standing back up, finding solid ground in my power and meditating on the words of those who have lead in peace:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Dr. Martin Luther King
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - Dr. Martin Luther King
If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That's the true practice of peace. - Pema Chodron