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Trump Just Won and Now I've Lied to My Sons Their Entire Lives

Photograph by Twenty20

Many of us sat, stupefied, in front of our computers, phones or TVs, watching the electoral votes stack up in Donald Trump’s favor on election night. The shimmery confidence of Clinton’s guaranteed victory dissipated and in its place, dullness grew. I, like so many parents around the country and the world, had to explain to my children how this happened and how we, as a family and a nation, can move forward in spite of this devastation.

I realized while telling my sons to stay strong and not to sink into an abyss of anger or hatred that I’d spent their entire lives lying to them, and myself, about how the world works.

I'd told them right always trumps wrong, that love defeats hate and goodness prevails above all else.

Those lies, however unintentional, were modeled in words and actions, beginning when they were just little boys. I told my children not to hurt others, scolding them when they hit each other or said mean things. This, I explained, wasn't how nice people behaved.

As they grew, I talked to them about The Golden Rule and the importance of being honest and true to their word. By doing so, I promised them, people would respect and value them in society.

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States is evidence to the contrary of every moral right I have ever tried to teach my children.

I instructed my sons to walk the straight and narrow in life—even when it’s easier sometimes to take a shortcut—because it’s the right thing to do and the right thing, I swore, was how people succeeded in life. Good things, I told them, come to good people. It was karma, it was the proper order.

What I failed to recognize until last night was that none of it was actually true. Sometimes, whether we like it or not, hurting others, saying mean things, treating people like crap, lying, and taking the easy way out wins the day. Sometimes, it pays to be an asshole.

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States is evidence to the contrary of every moral right I have ever tried to teach my children. His victory signaled the stark truth that hatred, ignorance and violence can be markers of success, and what's even harder to swallow, will be admired by others.

This wasn’t the outcome I wanted my children to see. When I remind them to take the high road, to be kind to others, why should they listen? What proof do they have that goodness is a virtue and not a mat to be walked across, scraping the dirt off their feet?

The lesson every child learned last night was that sometimes being good isn’t enough to overcome evil. Sometimes, bad people will win and sometimes, good people will allow them the opportunity.

I’m going to have to dig deeper than I’ve ever had to before and find the courage to remain kind and hopeful in a time that feels so mean and hopeless.

All of these truths hurt, in ways I’m still struggling to define.

Despite this setback, in my core being, I have to hold on to the hope that love is more powerful than hatred. I have to tell my children, even with tears and confusion in their eyes, that good will prevail, in time, as long as we keep fighting for it.

Empty handed, I am hoping that even when evidence proves otherwise, my sons can hold on to these convictions and believe in the spirit of goodness, especially when times like these make it hard.

I don’t have the answers as to why America has chosen this man, who has torn down bridges our country spent years building, to be her leader. No matter what, I have a moral obligation to keep pushing forward, alight with hope that one day, we will rediscover the values and ethos that has made our country a truly amazing place—for all people.

In the meantime, I’m going to have to dig deeper than I’ve ever had to before and find the courage to remain kind and hopeful in a time that feels so mean and hopeless. I’m not doing this for me, but for my children, and for your children, because they deserve a world that welcomes diversity and progress, that demonstrates kindness and love, not the broken land of dysfunction we’ve allowed America to become.

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