Yesterday I cried. I have never cried for another country’s election result before. But yesterday I cried.
Why did I cry?
I cried for the millions of people who obviously had felt unheard and ignored for many years. Who had watched the world change around them in ways they couldn’t understand – other than that they had no job and no food to put on the table.
I cried for the people who were afraid that who they were was not important or valued. Who felt that others living other lives had it easier than them. Who felt others were to blame for these uncomfortable feelings and outcomes. Who felt afraid of the others and wished them gone.
I cried for the people who felt their only way to be heard was to send in the biggest playground bully that they could find, so they could feel protected again even for a moment. Whose secret hope was anarchy so the bully could hurt the others they blamed for their pain.
I also cried for all the millions of people who had tried for decades to bring shared understanding and healing. For people who knew that focusing on the otherness meant ignoring the sameness. For people who had believed that they were making a difference and had tried to make the world a better place.
I cried for me.
For a younger me that was regularly pushed up against filing cabinets by old white men with hot breath, self-righteousness and grabbing hands.
I cried for the years I presented our organisations’ cases to the highest politicians in the land, yet still was expected to wash the dishes after lunch because, after all, I was only female.
I cried for being told “You are a woman. You need to shut up and let the men talk.” I cried for the memory of the celebration of finally being permitted by the male hierarchy to wear trousers and not have to wear skirts in a workplace.
I cried from being asked when implementing performance review programs “But what if the woman manager has her period when doing the review. How do you guard against that?”
I cried from still fresh wounds from sociopathic males for whom gaslighting was their preferred language and not paying their debts was a badge worn with pride at their cleverness.
I cried because of the millions of knifelike comments “You are too tall. Too fat. Too plain. Too old.”
I cried because all the gains of the last decades seemed to be ripped away in an instant by the angry, afraid faces of people who needed someone to blame and a bully to hide behind.
I cried because it felt like yesterday and I have been there before.
Why did I cry about a foreign election?
Even if the incoming President becomes the best there has been in history and manages to bring cohesion, economic stability and peace to his land – it will take time for the healing of a very fractured country to happen.
In the meantime, people are fearful of the future and what happens in one location never stays there. It spreads like gossip through a workplace. It creates ripples of unease and crashes of confidence.
It creates permission for what may have been unspoken to be said out loud with threats and fists to back up the words. It creates space for hatred and control to spread like a cancer.
I cried because it does matter and we will see the negative impacts play out here in Australia before it gets any better.
Today I dried my tears.
Today I faced our wobbly future with wobbly resolve.
We survived it before. We can survive it again.
We can try to listen and bring understanding to those who were afraid and in pain, as well as to those who share our fears for returning to the old ways of controlling and excluding others.
We can try to bring calm and tolerance. We can try to maintain acceptable standards of behaviour and inclusion, and shine a light through our own behaviour that there is a positive way forward.
I expect it will be rocky and I expect more than the odd skinned knee and wounded heart in the process.
But all we can do is to try again and to hope that this time, we can find a way to include all, exclude none and together create a more positive future.