America, WTAF? – The Morning After

Everybody is unique in the way they are created. Here are just some of the qualities that make me who I am:

  • I am the son of a white French man with suspected Mongolian and Scandinavian ancesty, and a mixed-race French woman with African and European ancestry.
  • I am on the Autism Spectrum with Aspergers (and that in itself spurs off a number of other qualities)
  • I am a gay male

I’m sure others out there can add more qualitative items to that list. Our differences are what set us apart from everyone else around us. But they can also unite us at the same time. I was always taught from a young age to celebrate diversity as much as possible. Being on the spectrum made it difficult sometimes to comprehend that, particularly during the bullying and teasing that I endured during high school. But somehow, instead of keeping me down, I managed to pick myself up and simply find another path to where I needed to go.

Some will call that the path of least resistance, but I prefer to term it the path of most knowledge, as it is the path I forged from the knowledge I gained by being knocked down in the first place.

It has now been 24 hours since the USA went to the polls to elect their new President. I faced a restless night’s sleep as my brain was completely overloaded with so many different conflicting emotions, and it was extremely difficult to allow any space inside.

As an Aspie, my mind is always switched on, even when it is crying out to be turned off. And when it experiences emotional overload as it progressively did yesterday, well, let’s just say that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that I would get any rest.

I eventually got myself off to sleep around 2am after looking at meaningless stuff and chatting to people (I specifically told myself to stay away from any social media, as that would have made matters much worse). And when I woke up in the morning, some of the fog had cleared, but the heaviness of the heart remained (and it still does even as I write this).

The last time I felt anything so disheartening like this was when Australia elected Tony Abbott as Prime Minister in 2013, on the wave of backlash against Julia Gillard and the Labor Party. It was an extremely cruel night to endure and I actually had to switch off social media for a couple of weeks as it was just too much to bear at the time.

I take so much comfort in the fact that there are people like me who are going through a similar wave of emotions. I am certain that people who voted for Trump do honestly believe they made the right choice for them. But as with anything in life, that remains to be seen for sure. The indicators thus far aren’t exactly encouraging though.

I also take comfort in the fact that while Donald Trump might have won the Electoral College vote, Hillary Clinton by far won the popular vote – in fact, the most number of popular votes for any presidential canditate in history. There are people even today who still insist that Bernie Sanders would have done a better job.

The benefit of hindsight is 20/20, but no one can ever predict what an alternative outcome would have been (and quite frankly it is futile to do so). In saying that, I do honestly believe that with the level of discontent and lingering hatred in the US electorate, even Bernie would not have been enough (remember that Bernie united behind Hillary in the end too, and encouraged his supporters to do so).

I think about all my close friends over in the US who feel the same way I do, and I have already offered to them to come stay with me here in Melbourne. Yes, Australia has its own fuck tonne of issues to contend with (not much dissimilar to the US), but nothing on the magnitude of what they are experiencing over there.

I had a long chat with my mum this morning just after I woke up. There is nothing like a mother’s voice to help reassure her child that everything is going to turn out ok, no matter how dire the circumstances are at the time. She is someone who has been through a lot more in her life than most people, and has always come out stronger every time. She is the person I look to for inspiration in how to be a survivior.

She has recently returned from 11 months in France where far-right extremism is sweeping the country, to the point where the previously fringe far-right Front National party is widely tipped to win the French Presidency next year. And for a country that prides itself on the values of Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood, this is an extremely frightening thought.

I realised today that I will actually be in France next year in May after the second run-off vote for the Presidency has occurred. I certainly hope that common sense does prevail, but I dread that the French people will make the same mistake that has just been made in the US (and also in the UK earlier this year with Brexit, an event which I also found very disturbing).

A dear friend of mine on Facebook who is currently in the US covering the election posted that on his feed, he had seen all different stages of the grief process in one hit. And that in itself is not surprising, as everyone deals with grief in their own personal way. But the observation was made that no one had hit the stage of Acceptance yet.

The way I related to this was seeing it as the death of someone who was dear to oneself. We may see them take their last breath, but we don’t actually accept it until the funeral has occurred and they are either buried or cremated (this is what happened with me when my stepfather died, although unfortunately I was not there to see him pass away, which made things even worse for me).

Donald Trump was elected on November 8, 2016. I see this as the “death”, so to speak. He will be inaugurated on January 20, 2017. I see this as the burial/cremation. The point where I know that it has actually happened and I can accept and move on.

But as we all move on, we also need to deal with the ramifications of what occurred during the election and what will unfold. Times will be rocky, but it will be our differences that help unite us in that period.

America, World, once we have grieved, once we have accepted, we unite as one common society, differences and all. And that includes me and all my unique differences. I am always happy to talk about it with any of you, as engaging in constructive and positive dialogue will help us all move forward.





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