Sorrow weighed heavily on my heart Wednesday morning as I spent most of my time deciding in which direction I would take this writing. Part of me so desperately wanted to revel in my anger and fear and concern for such a heartbreakingly divided nation. I desired to reflect on my consoling of my LGBTQ and Muslim friends who felt they no longer could live openly, dangerously vulnerable to the hate that fueled Trump’s campaign. I tried to find the words to express my uneasiness in being a woman whose body suddenly became subjugated to a seventy-year-old man and those he would soon appoint. In disbelief, I even considered focusing my words into different discussions of either receiving an A on my first college exam or finding out I had been given the opportunity to write for Odyssey online; those moments fueled my excitement and negated my worry.
But as the afternoon rolled around, steadily but surely, my dad shared with me the most sincere words he could fathom from a grieving heart: "Hold all your friends and loved ones closer today. Love them more strongly. Support them more actively. Those acts cannot be defeated." I paused for a few moments. Perhaps if I decided to tackle that fateful Wednesday, and the days that followed, with the same genuine and infectious love as that of my dad, who expresses himself through the deepest corners of his heart, then maybe I could take my writing in an entirely different direction. Rather than sulking in my sorrow or ignoring my feelings entirely, I found opportunity in writing about love, living my day out of love. From keeping in touch with those closest to me at home to intensely laughing with the girls on my floor late at night, I showed and practiced love. And I felt strong.
Because my laughing and keeping in touch truly cannot be defeated. They are moments that remind me how beauty often overwhelms the ugly and how we must diminish the divide between each other in order to effectively move forward. We will fight for love. We will fight out of love. And we will remember that our voices matter during a time in which hope fails us and goodness remains questionable. Wednesday, as well as the days that followed, saw more gracious acts and moments around campus than those of so many days before. A group of people united in front of McAllister Auditorium to support each other, and a student happily and openly gave away free hugs near the Loyola dining hall. My teacher offered her engaged and open listening to those students who needed it most. People greeted each other with open arms and hearts in Bruff Commons. My friends and I hugged each other tighter and spoke to each other more softly. Although small, those moments were important; they will always be important.
Love may not solve so many of the horrific problems that have resulted from Tuesday’s election; it most likely will not fix them alone. But as we look for answers and comfort and safety during these overwhelming days, we can deeply care for each other and remain united in our pursuits of acceptance and respect. We can listen attentively and speak effectively.
We can love.