Have We Gone Backwards?

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These are things we need to talk about. It seems like every day, there’s another news headline that invokes this all too familiar reaction: “What is wrong with the world?”

Whether it’s Donald Trump claiming that women who have abortions should be “punished” (or something equally Trump-esque), or news regarding the HB2 law in North Carolina, or even people losing their minds on Twitter because the new Star Wars film contains a *gasp* strong female lead, there’s an undeniable sense of hate that is taking far too strong of a grip on our society. 

It’s easy to feel like we live in a world where there will always be a battle to fight. We live in a world where, in 2016, women still don’t receive equal pay for the same work as men. We live in a world where people want to tell us what we should (and should not) do with our bodies. We live in a world where people are afraid to be themselves, where people fear for their lives because of the color of their skin, or because of who they love. This feels like it should be history, but it is not history. It is our current situation.

We don’t yet live in a world where everyone is equal.

We don’t yet live in a world where people can love who they want to love, freely.

There’s almost too many issues to tackle at once, and the very current discrimination and bigotry that still plagues our country can feel completely overwhelming at times. But it seems that the 2016 presidential election has brought of all of this to the forefront, for better or for worse.

We could drone on all day about how terrifying it is that Donald Trump is the frontrunner for the GOP party. How could someone who is so openly racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic be the leading candidate for president on one side of the political realm? But underneath his loud campaign and the ridiculous tweets is what is truly the most terrifying thing of all – his support. Trump is only as strong as the numbers behind him, and that’s the truly horrifying and sobering piece of this election puzzle. There are people who applaud him, there are people who truly believe what he says. If you read any of the multiple accounts of people going to his rallies “as a joke,” you’ll find that they leave feeling literally horrified. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of people in our country who *agree* with the things that cause our jaws to drop in shock.

With all of this, it feels like we’ve stepped into a time machine. Don’t we all learn about shameful times in our country’s history for a reason? (Answer: it’s so we don’t repeat it.) We all learned about World War 2 when we were in middle and high school; we learned bout how the United States turned away Jewish refugees who were trying to seek solace during the Holocaust out of fear that they may be spies. (They weren’t, of course, and of course they were killed upon returning to Europe.) And yet, here are the Trump supporters, cheering when he talks about limiting the immigration of Syrian refugees or not allowing Muslim men and women into the country.

We are trapped inside those pages of our high school history textbooks.

However, it’s important to realize why we feel this way, now more than ever. With social media, anyone can shout their thoughts and opinions – however ignorant – from a megaphone. It can feel like we’re bombarded with negativity, and the good things don’t stand out nearly as much.

But instead of being depressed about this, we should get angry. It’s good to feel angry. Anger is powerful, and anger makes us strong. If enough of us want to move forward, and not backwards, then that is the direction we will go.

And it’s important to keep in mind that there is good in the world – and no act is too small. There’s the woman who is keeping track via Google maps to help transgender men and women find safe bathrooms in North Carolina. Major corporations and other businesses are responding to the North Carolina HB2 law by pulling their business or canceling events. There are good people in the world. There are people in the world who want to go forward.

Ultimately, it’s up to us. Which direction do you want to travel?

{featured image via unsplash}

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