Early this morning, Donald Trump won at least 270 Electoral College votes, giving him the majority he needed to become president of the United States. Many, including me, were shocked by the outcome of the election.
The combination of presidential, Senate, and Congressional election results will have serious implications for all of us, particularly vulnerable populations. The results raise questions about how the media, in many cases, failed to do its due diligence, and how we still have to bridge divisions across racial, ethnic, gender, and class lines.
As a physician and human rights advocate, I was overwhelmingly saddened to learn of the election of a man who has openly demeaned women, people of color, immigrants, disabled individuals, and others.
So what do we do now? How do those of us interested in promoting the principles of a liberal democracy – including freedom, sovereignty, justice, opportunity, love and tolerance – move forward?
I believe we must now stand up even taller for those who are marginalized in society. In our everyday lives, we have to do all we can to fight the culture of misogyny and rape plaguing our country and others. We can and should rise against every form of racism, homophobia, and xenophobia – whether they take the shape of microaggressions or policy proposals.
Working around the globe, I see how my friends and colleagues carry the weight of social and cultural reform in their own countries. I’ve met many men and women who have been tortured for opposing attempts by their government to limit the rights of others. I’ve also witnessed how torture survivors can draw strength and resilience when their freedoms are restored – how they can thrive when there is respect for the sovereignty of their bodies, love and tolerance, justice, and limitless opportunity.
We are at a point in history in which our defense of these principles is critical. Our commitment to these values will need to run deep and consistent, to include our treatment of animals. Earlier this year, in an interview for The New York Times, George Yancy, author of Black Bodies, White Gazes, spoke with Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, about the connections between racism, sexism, and biases against animals. Singer pointed out it is difficult to reject one form of prejudice and oppression while accepting and practicing another. Any form of prejudice, oppression, or abuse fosters an illusion that a free, sovereign, and just social order can be broken.
In 1965, at the conclusion of a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Martin Luther King, Jr. asked, “How long will Justice be crucified, and Truth bear it?” He answered, “Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” But the arc doesn’t bend on its own. It lives within us, and it bends with us. It bends how we bend.
I still have faith that love trumps hate, courage undermines fear, hope can emerge from despair, and kindness can heal division.
What about you? What will you do to bend the arc of justice? What will you do with your outrage?