Where We Go From Here

First: If you’re a Trump supporter and you’ve come to gloat, don’t do it. I will delete your post. I thought this election would prove that the forces of unity were stronger than the forces of division, but I was wrong. You’ve won; and you’ve made it clear this is still a tribal nation. Go talk to your tribe.

I’m here to talk to mine: to my beautiful rainbow, mosaic, melting pot, polyglot tribe. The openhearted tribe whose hearts have been broken, the generous hopefuls who thought this was our moment to step into the sun.

It’s not. It’s the thrashing death throes of misogyny, racism, anti-intellectualism — I do think they’re dying, yes, but the thrashing can kill us, too.

So what do we do?

Did you hear Hillary’s concession speech? Did you see her face while she talked?

We keep fighting, in whatever way we can.

What ways are those?

My sister got up this morning and made contributions she couldn’t afford to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

The Center for Fiction here in NYC will be open tonight for writers to come together, share a mic and a glass of wine, talk about what this might mean, about how people feel.

People are talking about running for the small, local offices, to do the grassroots work.

This administration will probably cut the budgets for education, the arts, the environment. It will dismantle the Affordable Care Act. If you can volunteer at a school nearby, at Audubon, at a hospital to relieve the pressure, do that. If you can’t, maybe you could go to Staples and buy art supplies for a kindergarten class. There are small things we can do, until we have our strength back.

And the smallest and most important: be kind to each other. Here in NYC, where so many people are in a sort of mourning, people made eye contact all day as they walked by, smiled, held doors, wished me good day. As did I, to them. Do these things for people, especially people of our tribe who might have reason to feel threatened now in the dark days to come, and notice when people do these things for you. Be mindful of each act of kindness.

Am I planning to volunteer, will I run for local office? Right now what I want to do is crawl under the blankets and stay there for the next four years. Right now I feel stunned, shocked, feel the same as I did the day after 9/11. But I’ll recover. I did then, though it changed me forever. I’m a writer, a solitary profession, so maybe that’s the best thing for me to do: write. I’ll do what I can. You do what you can. Will it be enough? I don’t know. But I do know this: if we do nothing, that will most certainly NOT be enough.

I leave you with a Jewish saying: It is not given to you to finish the work, but neither are you free to refrain from it.

Do every small thing you can. Then, maybe, do bigger things. We can start to build again. Just keep the tribe together.



  1. Mary Feliz says:

    I concur completely! Small things. Then more small things. And then bigger things. And if you can only do small things, do small things. I’m hoping today that the smile and thumbs up I gave to a young mom bravely wearing a 1970s white pantsuit yesterday will continue to lift her up today. Although I don’t know her, and wouldn’t recognize her if I saw her today, knowing she is out there is lifting me up and giving me strength.

  2. Edana Cichanowicz says:

    This is the kind of world I lived and worked in for over a decade. Missing the diversity. Missing the sounds of other languages. Missing the glorious food and ethnic clothing. Heart sick that my former library patrons now think people who look like me hate people who look like them.

  3. matthew baugh says:

    One thing that I’ve noticed today is that the GLBTQI people I know are scared. A friend who is a victim of rape is frightened. I imagine that Muslims, Latinos, and pretty much anyone who is not straight, white, male, Christian, is feeling this more intensely than I am.

    I’m going to be checking with places that provide support for GLBTQI folks, immigrants, rape crisis centers, the Islamic center, etc. God willing, there won’t be a rise in violence or harassment, but if there is, I want them to have my contact information so I can be called on to help.

  4. Jayne Wenger says:

    Thanks for this. There are things that we can do, and must do. These are good thoughts, and proactive thinking is what we need. After a bit of stunned silence, and some meditation on our country and our world.

  5. Marge says:

    You are a bright spot that reaches all the way out to me in California. I shall arm myself with your thoughts and pass on your call to action to everyone I know. If we do nothing, then shame on us. Thank you for being there.

  6. Debi Huff says:

    Thanks for this SJ. I think we all will be processing this for a long time to come. You have certainly given us a good starting place. And definitely let’s keep our tribe together!!!

  7. As I sit here at my solitary computer, I write with you–as a woman and as a member of the tribe. Thanks for including me and thanks to Naomi Hirahara for sharing your post.

  8. Kitty says:

    Nobody could have said it better. Thanks, SJ. And thanks, tribe – it’s comforting to know we’re not going quietly into the night.

  9. SJ, almost 5 here, I am still trying to make sense of this. For me, this idea of a tribe may be my salvation, a tribe able to see strength in being kind and compassionate. Thanks for the uplift! Baby steps…..

  10. And Shechter says:

    SJ, I hope to be able to make sense of things soon. I know you’re saying things that matter. I just don’t know if I’ve got any fight left in me, you know? I thought I was sort of off the hook. I’ve been an activist, an advocate, a feminist and an outspoken leftist. I’ve fought for recognition, for rights, for peace, for equality, for a safe future. I don’t know where I’ll find any of that any longer.
    Your description of the morning after so reminds me of the description of the days after 9/11, all over the country. Smiles, simple kindnesses. Was it enough? No. It is a start. And I so hope you’re right. I’m scared beyond scared.

  11. Clea Simon says:

    this is beautiful, thank you. Made a donation, which is all I can do today. But yes – we will fight. And those who are too tired and have dealt with too much (waving at you, Andi), we will have your back. We will do what we can, when we can. Thank you for this. I’ve been repeating/copying this all day, and so I leave it here again: Martin Luther King Jr. — ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’

  12. Eunice says:

    I am from miles away from America, but I feel the sadness. But with the sadness is the hope that I also feel from your message SJ, and a compelling push to continue to be the good which every corner of this world needs.

  13. Doris Ann Norris says:

    Thank you, SJ for your hopeful words. If some voters don’t know that diversity is what makes our country strong, they will learn that and that hate and intolerance can be conquered by love of all people.
    I think it shocked me because 98% of the people with whom I have contact and who are my friends are very liberal. I know about the hatred. My paternal grandfather was the head of the Klan in my small Ohio town when they were burning crosses at Catholic churches that were, of course, filled with people for foreign lands. May the God of our understanding be with us all.

  14. Thank you for this, SJ. I really needed to hear it.

  15. Li Ann says:

    Thank you S.J. I am grateful for your words and strength. Too numb to do much more than hang on to hope.

  16. Warren Shapiro says:

    Very beautifully put! Thank you for your comforting words. It’s a hard time for our “tribe.”

  17. Vivian Julier says:

    Thank you so very much. I need so desperately to share your words with my children and friends.

  18. Ovidia Yu says:

    Thank you SJ.

  19. Susan Law says:

    Thank you SJ – good words for a hard time.

  20. Denise Andrews says:

    I woke up this morning resolved to do whatever I can to help our tribe make a resounding statement in four years. Planning is everything, so we need to lay the foundation, beginning right now. Random acts, service, volunteerism and setting the good example are the first layer! We must quietly work toward taking this back in four years and bringing civility back for our tribe.

  21. Tom Savage says:

    “Tribe.” I like that. Thanks for this.

  22. Rhonda Buttacavoli says:

    I, too, like “tribe”. I just wish it encompassed far more of America than it apparently does. Already there have been reports of racist ugliness in Pittsburgh – a bi-racial couple accosted on a city street and neo-Nazi graffiti. I feel alone and afraid to trust and will wait for that to pass. Our work lies ahead and these words of assurance and strength help greatly.

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