By EEMA MANZOOR
January 19, 2017
“They’re learning how to empathize as well as how similar we all really are. This election brought about unity in many different groups.”
The day after the 2016 election, there was a heaviness in the New York City air. The usually noisy city had become hushed. I originally thought it was just in my head, since I had been feeling hyper aware of it as a hijabi, a visibly Muslim woman who wore a scarf. But as the day continued, and I went to school, went about my usual schedule, I realized it wasn’t just me.
The city had the vibe of people in mourning. Every face was either blank, downcast or distant.
There, hidden in the rising anxiety, empathy was growing.
From that day on, and almost every day since then, I noticed something else in the air. It was quiet, almost completely drowned out by everyone’s Facebook statuses expressing their fear, anger or joy. There, hidden in the rising anxiety, empathy was growing.
I was approached by a middle aged white man in a suit that day and he asked me if I felt safe. He told me that if I didn’t feel safe that’s okay because the people of New York would stand by me. He offered to walk me to wherever I needed to go. I rejected his kind offer, because by that point I had decided I wouldn’t fear a future I didn’t know.
I refuse to live my life worried about being attacked, and I put it in my mind that even if someone did try to attack me, while they’d harm my body, I would never let them control my emotional or mental well-being. I hold a strong belief that God knows that, and so he sends me constant reminders to hold onto my courage.
The very next day, I saw post-its spanning across the walls of the 68th street 6 train station. Each post-it had a message of solidarity written on it. And soon, with time, I saw the post-its being put up in subway stations all around Manhattan.
This was what I had seen the day after the election, from the moment a stranger asked me if I was okay.
From there it only grew. The city was reverberating one message, over and over again, everywhere I went and everywhere I looked.
“You are not alone, I am with you.”
That’s not where it stopped. Everyday, someone reached out to me, stranger or acquaintance or friend, warning me to be careful of the yellow lines on the subway, telling me they’d walk with me and reminding me if I ever needed them, they were there.
People also started researching and growing curious through this election about every group Trump had targeted. Because of that, they learned about different religions and cultures, and the suffering of others. People are still learning and asking. They’re learning how to empathize as well as how similar we all really are. This election brought about unity in many different groups.
Of course, hate crimes still have risen since the election results. Many people think it’s now acceptable to act on prejudice and hate because the candidate who campaigned using hate and the weaknesses of unsatisfied people won.
I have stories of people being attacked since the election as well. I won’t tell you how to feel, so if you’re afraid, you have every right to feel so. If you are angry, you have every right to feel so. If you are happy, you have every right to feel so. However, I will say that we always see troubling times bring about great change in history, change that is both positive and negative.
People must suffer to truly grow, like the way we see nature break things down before building them back up. In light of the Presidential Inauguration this Friday, I realize that this election has had many negative repercussions, but there is also positive aspects springing from it. While we can not control what’s already happened, we can control how we react to it, how we grow from it and lastly, what we see because of it.
The idea of balance in nature and on earth spans across many different cultures, religions and ideologies. There is an equal amount of good in this world to the bad in this world. You can not have one without the other. Our perspective of this planet stems from what we choose to focus on or what we choose to ignore.
Like it or not, see it or not, believe it or not, this election has also brought forth courage, knowledge, empathy, and unity.