I have been back in America for a few days now.
I watched this election happen from a hotel room alone in Bogotá, Colombia. I’m not surprised by the outcome, but that doesn’t make me less sad. It doesn’t make me less angry.
I cried a lot. A whole lot. But I am not writing to tell you about my tears. Who cares? They do nothing if they don’t motivate me to do more than just cry. My grief as a white woman is pretty damn shallow if it ends at grief.
My community assures me that we have to love harder. That love is the answer. That love conquers.
Love will get us absolutely nowhere without action.
I am tired. I am tired. Do you get why that is bad?
I am not an immigrant. I am not Muslim. I am not a person of color, Jewish, or LGBTQ-identifying. And if I am too tired to speak up, stand up or show up, what happens to those who cannot? What happens to our planet at large, our wild spaces, our environment?
If fear, anger and sadness have brought you to the ground, make absolutely certain that you do not stay there. Get off your knees. Motivate, mobilize.
I know that a lot of you reading this are travel-loving outdoorsy folk, like me. And we’re a funny bunch. We love making ourselves uncomfortable. We go out (voluntarily) to climb really tall, scary things. We sleep outside in freezing temperatures. How many natural objects have you wiped your ass with? I can count a few. We thrive on discomfort. But when things get this kind of uncomfortable, what, we peace out and say we’re moving to Canada? No.
I am uncomfortable beyond belief, but I won’t even joke about leaving this country because of it. I am not going to leave marginalized groups to fend for themselves right now, just because I can– just because the privilege I grew up in allows me to make that choice. I am not going to leave the issues of this planet, and its limited resources, to fend for themselves right now.
I will not tune out. I won’t make light of very real issues. I will not write “love wins” on this chapter and close the book.
Yes, I will take care of myself, I will spend time with my friends, and I will remember to laugh, but only because self-care is also vital in doing this work.
I feel wobbly, do you feel it too? I feel flattened, do you feel it too? I recognize that I am not where I want to be in this fight, but I am getting there, and I hope you will meet me somewhere along this road because it is long as hell and people have been asking many of us to get on it for a long, long time. It’s not their fault that we’re just seeing it now. Get. On. That. Road.
When you believe in the call that comes out, join in with the chorus demanding change. It must be a rallying cry that listens to one another and demands inclusion in the process.
The discomfort will not stop– neither will the work. It doesn’t go away just because we think about it, pray about it, or post about it. It doesn’t go away because we decided we were gonna love each other more– it’s uglier than that sometimes because it is disruptive, and that often is not pretty. What is happening is important. It is uncomfortable.
Does it seem like it’s going to be a lot of work? It is and it will be.
I will speak for myself: I know that I cannot be silent. Don’t tell me that love can conquer. I know that love has won many battles. I fucking know. But I believe that love will only win if we partner it, thoroughly and intimately, with action.
Our love is only as strong as the impact it drives. What side of history will you be on?
Spare me the “love wins” stuff. Spare me the moving to Canada stuff. Organize. Move into action. Fight for what is right.
— Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) November 9, 2016
Please ignore this text box - Recoleta Font
Hey there –
I’m the person who dropped by from Connecticut once (Eastern Connecticut) and I’ve been pretty much in the same headspace. I had my own take on this – about how maybe the way to go is to start small and simple. It’s all a lot of us may be able to handle now, but maybe that’s the best way to get the foundation down.
Hey! Loved your post, especially the part about us not all getting it right all the time. Man, that is such a big part of it. I am happy to see so many people inspired to move into action. Thanks for writing 🙂
I feel like if there’s any good to come out of this, it is nudging us to take action and to take personal responsibility. Trump is obviously not going to have the majority of people’s interests in mind, and the government now does not have the health of the planet in mind, so we need to do things as individuals and of groups of individuals to ensure the progress we have made is not derailed. Donate, volunteer, join an organization that speaks to you, educate yourself on the issues at hand, get involved in local government. We don’t have the warm, cozy feeling that those in power are going to take care of it for us, so now WE need to act.
Great post 🙂
I agree, Nichole! It has been encouraging to see folks showing up in new ways, at least here in my community in Boulder & Denver. I hope we all keep it up!
Great post, Erin. I am in the same boat. I’m struggling with finding ways to express my feelings or emotions with those who may not see my view, so I’m working to find ways to help others and speak up for our environment. The day after the election I went and met with one of my environmental studies professors and said “I am upset about this. So, what actions can I personally take to make any kind of impact?” The only good I can see from this past week’s turmoil is that it’s making people seek out productive ways to make change and take real action. I’m excited to see what people get the courage to do!
Hey Lauren, so glad you are seeking action! I think this has brought to light so many issues that we have been blind to. Now we really see how problematic they are and that a lot of folks feel unheard in one way or another. I support you!
As someone who gave up a successful corporate marketing career (and tens of thousands of dollars annually to do it) to dedicate my life to our wild rivers, I say the time is now. If people won’t wake up and take notice of the fights for our open spaces and wild places now, they never will. If people don’t support (in votes, spirit, action, and cash) those of us doing the dirty work for our environment every day of our lives, not just when it’s fun, then we will never pull out of this plane wreck we call a planet before it’s really too late.
The time is now. This is a wake up call. Complacency can no longer be in fashion. I hope people get serious about joining together for our collective future. Time to do the real work.
Damn, this comment gave me chills! Complacency cannot fly anymore– you are right on the money. I am happy to see a lot of my people feeling motivated to get into action, and I really hope they stay there. Most of my work falls into the racial/social justice sector, but if you have any campaigns specifically that need a loud voice, feel free to email me! Thank you for doing what you do. I support you.
Thanks, Erin. Much appreciated! Of course, there is always lots going on, but specifically here are the top three campaigns we have cooking in the west right now.
1) Protect the Grand Canyon from unwise development – the proposal to build a gondola into the eastern Grand Canyon, a threat to the canyon’s groundwater on the South Rim, and the overrun of helicopter traffic to the west has created a challenge to the sanctity and awesomeness of our nation’s most iconic National Park. http://www.americanrivers.org/grandcanyon
2) Protect the Smith River from a copper mine in it’s headwaters – The Smith River is widely regarded as “Montana’s River” and features an amazing stretch of deep limestone canyons, compelling vistas, and perfect solitude. But a foreign mining company is planning to build a sulphur-acid leach heap copper mine in one of the pristine tributary streams above the Smith, and the company themselves state thta the mine will definitely impact water quality of the river. This cannot be allowed. http://www.americanrivers.org/smithriver
3) Central Arizona water supply/Lake Mead – The lifeline of the Colorado River sustains more than 36 million people, along with a great majority of our nation’s food supply, and endangered fish and wildlife across seven states and two countries. The Colorado also supports a $26 billion dollar recreation economy that supports tens of thousands of jobs across the west. However, demand on the river’s water exceeds its supply, leaving the river so over-tapped that it dries up nearly 100 miles from its mouth at the Sea of Cortez.
THANK YOU Sinjin! Looking forward to staying updated on these campaigns and sharing them where you need folks to sign and show up!
I feel it. Thank you for this insightful and inspiring post. I needed this kick in the ass, (and I will for a few more days), until the depression subsides and I can continue the fight.
Thanks Rachael! Take care of yourself and get into action when you can. And if you need a (loving) kick in the ass, you know where to find me 😉
I was really depressed about the election for a few days, but I’ve turned the corner and now I’m back to angry. There’s a lot of energy that comes with anger, and it would be a shame to waste that. Anger is good. Anger gets sh*t done.
Hell yeah, Lynn. I’m right there with you.
This is why I look up to you. THANK YOU for saying what needs to be said; so many big figures have kept quiet about this because they’re worried about losing their following. Thank you for inspiring us!
Thank you, Alyssa! Helpful to hear that.
Keep it up sista! Love how you’re lovin.
Big love back atcha my friend!
hey erin, love your writing and especially love this post. it resignates so well with exactly how i feel, yet you put it into words so eloquently. one thing i’m struggly with is HOW. how can i help. what organizations can i get involved in to push for our environment. i would love to know if you’ve found anything in this realm or have any suggestions.
many cheers. x kate
Hi Kate! Thank you so much, so glad this was helpful! Personally I am involved with SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice) in Boulder. If that interests you, I would encourage you to check them out and see if there is a local chapter near you. Generally speaking, I recommend picking an issue that is important for you, and finding ways to plug in locally. Whether it is social justice, environmentalism, healthcare, or anything else, there is always room for more hands!
I have been reading a lot post-election to not only cope with the results, but also the state that our country is in. We can not be so divided and hate-filled. You are right: it is time to move onward and upward. I will not stand by while others are on the wrong side of history, but rather, will speak up for what is good and right in this country. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insight on this! So inspirational 🙂
Love this! Thank you Jessie!
I really like your blog , you’re clearly a deep thinker and you have an interesting voice. Have followed you and look forward to seeing more 🙂
Thank you Rebecca! Much appreciated.
This post may not be a wise idea but in the interest of the country and it’s people I love I’m going to press on. I understand the adverse reaction many have for Trump. I share most of them regardless of the fact that I don’t feel the fear some have expressed. None of us are faultless, least of all me. Today we learn more than ever before about people in public life. I have no doubt people with more issues than Trump, on both sides of the political spectrum have held office in our country. I understand and respect passion, I see it here. Regardless of what inspires that passion it is a good response for our society. The world we know and want will be there even if you and I disagree on how to get there. You may think I’m in the opposition to your position and what we do with our planet. You would be wrong. The idea that people who don’t feel about everything as you do are the enemy and have no redeeming qualities is shortsighted. That is not aimed at any one person, rather in general and works both ways. Working with folks on the opposite side to attain goals is far better than the alternative. I’m in no way saying give ground on closely held beliefs. I’m saying allow both sides at the table, make it a point to see all facets of the issue and give yourself a fair chance at understanding different views. The gap between folks in, not just this country but the world, can be narrowed. I think it will come from love and an attempt to understand others. I sincerely hope you will be pleasantly surprised at some of what the new administration does. If the election does anything I think it will get more folks involved and educated, that is a good thing! As always E, a thought provoking write. Thanks, Michael
Michael, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I also hope I will be pleasantly surprised. What this election has taught me– and certainly what writing about it on the internet has taught me– is that in order to narrow the gap, we always, always need to listen to each other and that’s why I love the way you have shared your point of view. My stance here is that it’s not JUST love, but also direct action; showing up for what we believe in by calling our representatives, by being loud, by voting for the policies that will affect change the way we hope to see it. I think the whole election (and not just the results of it) has put a bright light on many things in our country. Things I admit to being ignorant to. I still commit to writing and talking about what is important to me, regardless of how people disagree. But before and with that comes empathy and trying hard to understand– so thanks for engaging with me on this. All the best.