I don’t know how to write about inspiration. It’s a feeling and those are difficult to illustrate in words. I remember a lightness that rushed over me during a tuk tuk ride in northern Thailand in November of 2012. Jared and I stayed up late into the night watching Fox News, which was comically the only available coverage of the US election. The results hadn’t fully come in when we had to leave early in the morning for an overnight hike into the jungle. The timing was such that we might not learn the results of our nation’s election until 48 hours after it occurred.
2012 felt different than 2008; it felt like the test of a heavily-scrutinized president that I very much wanted to see reelected. It wasn’t for the fear of his opponent. Especially in the context of our current political landscape, Mitt Romney seems like he probably would have done a pretty good job keeping the country safe, which for some people is enough. However, he likely would not have come out in support of marriage equality, gone to bat for women’s reproductive rights or made any honest acknowledgment of the systemic racism that permeates our law enforcement and justice system.
These are considered by some to be soft issues and inherently secondary to national security and the economy. I’ve been called immature for prioritizing them but if accessible healthcare, affordable education and equal rights under the law are idealistic and unattainable, I’m not sure what we’re spending so much trying to protect. If fear is the main theme we operate under, we build nothing. With so much anxiety, there is no room for creativity. When our energy is focused on being great, we lose the capacity for for being good.
Four years ago, I sat in a tuk tuk that rattled along a dirt road out of town and headed for the jungle. Jared turned on his phone for a brief moment to see if any text updates would come through. Right before we lost service, a message from his brother read: Obama wins in a landslide. The feeling I had that day and night was one of elated optimism. As a country, we had decided that goodness mattered and not just for 47% of us. We didn’t beat our chests and we weren’t afraid. The next four years would see the expansion of healthcare, the recognition of marriage equality, and a policy that began to prioritize climate change as a national responsibility. In these four years my partner and I found ourselves and each other; they have been personally and communally transformative; easily the best four years of my life.
Today, I do not feel hopeful or optimistic, but I will also not be discouraged. I still believe that love is stronger than fear and exposure to difference makes space for understanding. The next four years will not see the end of the progress because we are all still here. We will create art and take care of each other and stand up in support of what we believe and protest what we don’t. We will become the inspiration. We will be the good.
And here’s a photo (that’s probably offensive):