What Would Buffy Do?
What do you think about when you think of your hero? They stood up to the trials in their lives without backing down, right? They overcame adversity, they ignored odds, they out up a fight--even if it meant tears and, in extreme cases, bloodshed. How often have we said to ourselves, I want to be more like my hero? Often, surely. Now, are we all heroes? Maybe. Maybe not. But just like our heroes, regardless if they're fictional or celebrity or close-to-home or whatever, did not know that they had the potential to be heroes, too. They were scared once, too. In fact, they're probably afraid all while they're doing their thing. So, in light of the volatile political climate in America this year, now is the time to stand up, stick around, and fight like our heroes.
The political climate this year has sucked the life out of me. It's disrupted the tiers in my Maslow pyramid, ruffling creative runs and stifling them into long spells of writer's block--something I rarely ever experience. I get anxious. Violence and discrimination against marginalized groups has been emboldened and is escalating at a wildly distressing rate. I'm black, and I live in the part of Philadelphia where Trump supporters are not so far and few between. What if someone decided to act out their prejudices on me on my home? I mean, this happened about ten minutes away walking from my apartment:
Photo by Jared Brey, retrieved from Philadelphia Magazine.
A friend's boyfriend was chased and assaulted because he was gay. College freshman at the school I work at getting group text message threats that there will be lynchings of all black students. This stuff is terrifying, and it's happening right outside my front door much more frequently than usual.
What am I going to do about all this? Should I move to another country or something? Shortly after it was confirmed that Trump was the president-elect, I found myself dizzy from fear and panic that instantly settled in. I contacted a couple of friends in New Zealand, admitting my disdain and disowning of this country as a home. I was quickly laying out the prospect of moving there.
I spent mired in a miserable funk for a few days. Getting out of bed was difficult. I couldn't write a single word in any of my narrative projects. I wanted to run away, far away from here.
But then, after a long marathon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I thought to myself: would our heroes--fictional and nonfictional--run away and leave their loved ones behind in this turmoil?
What Would Buffy Do?
Buffy Died To Save Her Little Sister
I'm upset at both sides of the political argument. I'm proud that people have finally gotten away from their social media and decided to take on marches. I'm happy to see grassroots activism and progressivism seeding. But I'm also frustrated that a group of teenage black kids decided to act out their own anger by randomly assaulting white passerby in Center City Philadelphia. Flash mobs aren't anything new, either. Nonetheless, violence is never the answer. It's sickening, it's defeatist, and it takes away momentum from what our mission should be about: harmony.
I don't expect everyone to agree with each other. In fact, I don't care if someone hates me for who I am. Just don't act on it. Don't harm someone physically or verbally. Keep it to yourself and move along with your day.
What's happening is nothing new. But it's important to recall the strength of our parents, grandparents, and their grandparents. America has a long, heinous history. Let's remember how we've fought, and not let what freedom we do have privileged to us cloud the fact that there is still a fight, no matter who sits in the oval office.
"Strong is fighting! It's hard, and it's painful, and it's every day. It's what we have to do. And we can do it together. But if you're too much of a coward for that, then burn. If I can't convince you that you belong in this world, then I don't know what can. But do not expect me to watch. And don't expect me to mourn for you."
I don't care if you voted Republican, Democrat, third-party. I don't care if you chose not to vote. What I do care about is how you're going about healing the wounds this country has. Spilling more blood and poking at the wounds is not a solution. That's one thing I wish we all could agree on.
Then, we could think about how we can have conversations with each other:
Jon Stewart on the election, America, and Republican repudiation.
The United States is facing a multi-culture war, and it has been since before its inception as a nation. This is not the kind of conflict that is going to be resolved by munitions. This is the kind of war that calls for diplomacy, discussion, understanding and compassion. And those things are hard to achieve. The reality is that this "war" will never end, but we can do what we can to make life a little better for ourselves and our neighbors.
Isn't it the little things, anyway?
It can take a long time--years of practice--before someone can carefully articulate their feelings. And it can take even longer for them to meet at common ground with someone who disagrees with them, and then seek positive action that benefits both of them and their surrounding communities. And then, eventually, outside their comfort zone.
We've all screwed up. We've all got our flaws and shortcomings. We all have internal and external struggles. We have a lot more in common than we realize. And we should forgive where we can, seek compassion and understanding, and help each other out.
Buffy Summers didn't run when she had to defeat a god. She didn't run away so she could be a teenager living in paradise when the Hellmouth was unraveling beneath her high school. She didn't run away when her mother died. She didn't let the planet be destroyed by her heartbroken best friend. And she didn't run when the Hellmouth opened up again, more fierce than it was before.
We can't run away and let this place implode. We are responsible for each other, and we must look past who voted for who. This crisis has been running for a long time, and we need to open our eyes and look at the bigger picture. Look outside of our bubbles and expand the narrow parts of our minds.
That's why I'm choosing to stay and fight. And by fight, I certainly don't mean take it to the streets and riot. I mean reach out to people, even those who may think differently than me, and seek what it is that ails them personally.
Besides, there's no island for runaway would-be heroes. If there was, that sounds like a lame place to live. They probably serve cocktails mixed with bad whiskey and bitters made of regret and hollow tears.
I've got an abundance of empathy. But I'm no one special. I'm just another human being. There's no reason you can't have empathy, too. You are valid. Your problems matter. Your feelings matter. You have a voice. You have strength. You are a hero.