I’m a pessimist. Just ask anyone who has known me longer than 15 minutes. All can attest to my penchant for envisioning the worst in an effort to stave off disappointment, which I invariably end up suffering regardless. I’m a glass half empty kind of gal, a negative Nancy, a real downer at parties, a perpetual storm cloud in a world of annoyingly sunny days.
Or am I?
Since the devastating results of the 2016 election, I’ve found an odd source of power that keeps on chugging along no matter how low chances seem for success. When the world sucker punches me in the stomach, inviting me to curl up in the fetal position and stay there, that power orders me to walk it off and keep going. The worse things get, the brighter it shines. If I had to name this power, I’d call it hope. And that motherfucker really does spring eternal.
What the hell do I have to feel hopeful about, you might ask? Good question, because the last 2 years have been a doozy.
I watched a quarter of my country embrace the racist, sexist, POS candidate in 2016, propelling him to victory. I’ve seen Republicans in Congress attack every facet of what it means to be an American in their single-minded frenzy to bolster the 1% by lining their pockets with tax cuts that would cripple the dwindling middle class and further victimize those living in poverty. I’ve witnessed the rising tide of overt bigotry in all its forms. I’ve worked for months for a candidate I truly believed could lead my state in a positive direction for the first time in 20 years, only to watch him lose his bid for office. I feel the country moving under my feet, teetering on an edge beneath which lies utter destruction for people who look like me, for immigrants, for those who identify as LGBTQ. The country is on fire, and yet I’m sitting at a table in the middle of all of it, drinking coffee and thinking: this is fine.
But it really is fine.
Or, at least, it’s going to be. That’s something I firmly believe, and that belief is locked safely away in a place where no logic can penetrate, spreading its pessimistic blackness.
If we work hard, if we keep on keeping on, if we create change with every exhaled breath, with every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears we have to spare, I really think we can hold the encroaching chaos at bay. We can win big in November. We can make this country into a place that also works for people of color, for women, for the LGBTQ, for immigrants, for the disabled, for the working class, for all those struggling to make ends meet.
This kernel of positivity is an unexpected gift, born of utter despair and powerlessness. It’s the hope Barack Obama called so audacious. And it took disaster for me to understand the kind of enduring strength that can truly create change. I see it in the hardworking people around me in the trenches — the ones who are closer to me than folks I’ve known for over a decade. I see it in candidates running for office. I look in the mirror and see it — that flicker; that flame — and I know we’re really going to change things.
One loss is nothing. One setback. One punch to the gut that hurts but teaches us how to avoid the next blow.
We’re going to change things. It’s our time.
I believe it. And so I keep fighting. I hope you believe it too.