When I was a senior in high school, I sat in civics class and watched as my classmates got notifications about a terrorist attacks. We were supposed to be working on a group project but we all found ourselves Googling exactly what was going on in Boston. The marathon was bombed, the suspects got away, and a man hunt ensued. Months later, the cops had found the little brother of the mastermind and he sat on trial. My classmates called for him to be put to death; the same people that worried about their guns being taken, who thought we shouldn’t have the right to abort a baby, and those who thought that all foreigners were bad people. My civics teacher asked us to talk about our thoughts on the death penalty, and I quickly understood I was in the minority. I had reached my limit, though. I didn’t like being surrounded by all the hate.
I raised my hand and the teacher looked at me surprised; normally if I were going to cause trouble I did it a bit more subtly. She asked me what I was thinking and I simply asked if it were right that we chose to kill the man. If he didn’t have the right kill all the people he did, then why do we have that right? Is it we who get to play God because we believe we are on a higher moral ground than someone who thought they were doing something "good"? The class looked at me, confused as to why I was speaking and even more confused as to why I said what I said. The conversation ended after my comment because we needed to get back to history class.
I found myself surrounded by hate in high school. I was told to go to hell because of the actions of my brothers, I was told I was going to hell for being a practicing Catholic, and I had classmates who genuinely believed that all Muslims would kill us. I wanted to understand the hate and bigotry that was fostered so easily by group think. In the wake of the election, my Facebook is littered with two types of people: the distraught who now fear for their safety, and those who are defending the racist, homophobic man in office.
People are protesting because the amount of hate in America right now is frightening. The KKK shouldn’t be allowed to casually stroll across a bridge in North Carolina. People should be able to wear whatever they want to wear to express who they are. There should be no walls, nor should people be chanting for some to go back over the wall. I should not fear that I may have to go to conversion therapy to be considered “normal." America was founded on the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you aren’t a white, straight, cis male then that is in jeopardy. Trump normalizes the idea of bullying and sexual assault. Trump is sending a message to kids that it is okay to not accept everyone because they are different from who they are. Trump doesn’t respect women.
People aren’t protesting because they are babies and can’t handle losing. People are protesting because they don’t want hate to be fostered in this world. They are protesting because they fear for their futures in this country. They are trying to grapple with how to foster love in a world where the rhetoric is littered with hate. I’m still trying to understand hate and how people don’t strive to understand each other. You have a right to your opinion, that is what is promised in this country. You do not have the right to make me afraid to walk out my door everyday.
Love Trumps Hate. That is the message, that is the understanding and that is how America will be move forward.