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November 23, 2016

What Just Happened?

By Vega Subramaniam

Well. Here we are.

Foreboding CloudsAs a youth, I was clear that I was a citizen of the world. Political boundaries were irrelevant. I held that clarity while also acknowledging that I was an American and that this place was my “home.” As I’ve grown older, I’ve allowed the notion of America as my “home” to eclipse the notion that I am a citizen of the world. This election is a good reminder that I am a citizen of the world, which always eclipses America as my “home.”

There is alarm coursing through my veins, every time I step onto the Metro, walk down the street, enter a store. Now, more than ever, I need to be resilient. And I’m not even Muslim, not Black, not an undocumented immigrant, not trans.

I was blessed to be in Seattle and surrounded by close friends when this violation of humanity happened. I was surrounded by people as politically aware as I am, as passionate about justice as I am, as compassionate and loving as I could want for company.

Compassion and love. Concepts I claim as core values. This has tried my ‘compassion’ muscle. I remember though that now is not the time to abandon compassion. Now is precisely the time to hold on to it. It’s easy to be compassionate when everyone’s being mature. It’s important, at those times, and worthy, and it’s practice for now. For when it’s tried to the core. And when it’s tried to the core, that’s when it’s vital.

I think about loving-kindness. If I wish it for all beings, and I believe I do, then I must wish it for this narcissist who tramples on our sense of decency and humanity, and who inspires heinous acts of violence.

I remember that loving-kindness is not the same as being indifferent to his atrocities. It co-exists with maybe, probably, putting my body and well-being and life on the line to protect myself and my loved ones and my communities against his atrocities and atrocities committed in his name.

Loving-kindness does not negate rage. But it does negate hate. It does not negate protest, but it does negate retaliation. It does not negate self-defense, but it does negate violence.

We’ll fight, of course. We’re strong, and our communities will survive this. I might not. You might not. Individual loved ones might not. Entire neighborhoods might be destroyed. Entire neighborhoods and communities have been destroyed in this country, throughout our entire blood-soaked history.

This is nowhere near the first struggle of this magnitude in this country. And we’ll always have writers like Toni Morrison and activists like Marisa Franco, all the writers and artists and activists who have ever resisted with power and wisdom and love. And, can’t forget, we’ll always have each other.

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All, ILP, Social Change, Vega