After the election of Donald Trump
We are still free.

We are free to feel our anger, our rage, our tears.
We are free to love our men,
And love our women.

We are free to speak out for the vulnerable,
To protect those we love,
Comfort those in pain,
or living with fear. 

Free to be angry at our own
Liberal smugness
And groupthink,
So sure our candidate would win. 

Free to question ourselves:
What part of me led to this?

What part of me ignored the pain
Of factory workers losing jobs
To Mexico, or China,
Or immigrants?

What part of me has not understood
How it feels to be a wounded man
In today’s increasingly feminist world,
Or a white person overwhelmed
By the pace of change?

What part of me thought of Trump supporters
Or those uncomfortable with immigrants,
Or Muslims,
As “deplorable?” 

What part of me has been unable to connect
With young people,
To truly listen to their perspective,
And reach out through their disillusionment?

What part of me went along
With the comedians’ glee
At Donald Trump’s entry into the race
Happy for someone they could mock so easily,
Until another part of me realized
“This isn’t funny any more;
I don’t want to hear any more jokes about this,”

 Only it was too late,
Because everyone else had done the same thing,
And the genie was out of the bottle.

Now more than ever, I feel passion to grow,
To be even more disciplined in my practice, my meditation.
To be a light to my sisters, to the world. 

My neighbor, whose parents survived the holocaust,
But whose aunts and uncles didn’t,
Tells me she is moving to Canada.

Another told me last week
Of abuses suffered at work
Because she is undocumented.
How is she feeling today, I wonder,
With threats of deportation hanging in the air,
And further abuses looming?

And what of my niece,
My beautiful, 9-year-old, biracial sweetheart?
What do we say to her,
As she watches the first African American president
(her true idol)
Replaced by someone embraced and celebrated
by the leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

I am you and you are me.
I am the immigrant, the Muslim, the child.
I am the one who was mocked,
And the woman who was assaulted.
I am the factory worker who lost his job,
And the woman afraid she may be deported.
I am the disillusioned youth,
And the disaffected citizen,
Who declines to vote.

And so I recommit to my practice,
I recommit to love.
I will become a brighter light,
Freer, purer. 

I look to others who have been that light in the darkness,
Who have suffered hatred, and abuse,
For so much longer than any of us could imagine,
All with equanimity,
Without hating in return. 

The Dalai Lama.
Sojourner Truth.
Nelson Mandela.
And so many, many more.
These will be our heroes this year,
These will be our true leaders.
I want to read their stories,
To live 1/100th of their light. 

Let us be that candle, be that light.
Let us shine more brightly than ever before.

Because today, I am still free,
Free to be light, be love, be courage.
Free to have the best year of my life.

~ Yogeshwari Laura Cornell

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