• Melanie Renken

Yes, I Cried

The election was so much more than politics to me, and its results made me question what I know about our country.



"Don't tell me you're one of those people who cried," she said.


Embarrassed to admit I had been an emotional wreck since crying myself to sleep Tuesday night, I mumbled something to the effect of, "Yeah--I cried when I listened to her concession speech. It was sad."


Shame on me.


Because is crying for your country really something to be embarrassed about?


Is it really so humiliating to feel heartbreak for entire classes of people who were just told that most of the country isn't willing to stand up for them?


If being scared for our kids, fellow Americans who practice a certain religion, and families who could be uprooted or split apart isn't worth crying over, what the hell is?


So yes, I cried. And I continue to cry. It comes out of nowhere--I think I'm fine, and then a lump forms in my throat and I can't talk. I talk myself into a few moments of optimism, and then I hit a brick wall of sadness. And I cry.


Here's why.


I am crying because, before Tuesday, I believed most Americans were fighting a battle for kindness. Just look around at all of the Facebook posts, Pinterest pins, t-shirts, car decals, engraved jewelry--we love those quotes and slogans telling everyone kindness matters.


We pretend we are teaching our children that, above all else, they must be kind.


And then we go to the polls and elect a man whose speech is the antithesis of kindness. We vote for a man who calls people names, stereotypes citizens who practice a religion different than his, repeatedly degrades women and brags of sexual assault, and makes fun of people with disabilities.


I am crying because we proved we are a bumper-sticker nation. We wear our slogans with pride: "Look at me--I love kindness--my shirt says so!" But we have no idea what kindness is. Or, worse, we know what it is and are willing to just look the other way.


I am crying because sometimes being kind means being brave, and we were not brave. Kindness means, despite your own fears and insecurities, you are willing to take a stand for someone. Make a sacrifice for someone. Stand up to a bully and say, "NO--I won't let you do that." Especially when the bully is picking on someone who you believe is nothing like you.


I am crying because we are saying it's okay we hurt others because we were scared ourselves--as if fear justifies unkindness. I know we are scared of higher taxes, wasteful spending, terrorism, and on and on and on. I get it. But fear does not justify cowardice and unkindness. If it did, we could explain away all of the world's evils.


A man beats his wife because he's scared she's going to take his kids away.


People afraid of dying handed over their Jewish neighbors to be executed instead.


The rapist destroys a woman because he's scared of his own past.


A wife is scared of being left alone, so she remains silent while her husband abuses her daughter.


On Tuesday, we said it was okay to hurt others--or, at the very least, allow them to be hurt--to protect ourselves. We were unkind.


I am crying because I have spent the past few years getting past the messages ingrained into me from the church, workplace, and world in general, telling me I will never be as much as a man. Telling me I have a duty to obey and sexually satisfy my husband. Telling me that, no matter my degrees, experience, or qualifications, I have not earned the right to make as much as my male peers or to achieve the same recognition. Telling me that male executives have the right to talk to my co-workers about my breasts, demand hugs on their birthdays, and then instruct other women not to talk to me after I complain.


And then we elect a man who says all of those things are not just okay--they're normal.


I am crying because, Tuesday night, our country told me I was right before--when I believed that I would never be as much as a man. Even if I believe--know--I am just as much, our country will not let me be as much.


I am crying because I felt abandoned by my fellow women. Women who went to the polls and said they are willing to tolerate inequality and misogyny not just for themselves, but for all women.


I am crying because I became even more disillusioned with the church (not my church necessarily, but the Christian church in general). Pamphlets and e-mails told me I must vote for him if I am a Christian because abortion and the sanctity of marriage are at stake, after all. As if Jesus condones unkindness, ridicule, closing borders to people in need, ostracizing minority religions, and assaulting women. As if Jesus would ever tell me I must cast my vote in a way that shows a complete denial of love to other people He created.


And yes, I am crying because the glass ceiling is still in tact. I was so hopeful I was going to be able to tell Rugrat WE DID IT! We shattered it, Sweetheart. It may have taken a woman with the most extensive resume known to mankind running against an opponent who has no qualifications for the job whatsoever, but WE DID IT!


Now, I'm left speechless when he asks again, "Why aren't women allowed to be president?"

With time, hope will replace the tears. I am pulling for the president-elect and hope to God he is not the man he's made himself out to be for the cameras.


But my tears are not over the man who was voted into office--they are over the people who put him there.

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