After the Election: On Widening the Circle of Light

This morning, I am angry. Angry, frustrated, sick, with an outright fire burning inside of me. This morning I have to explain to my daughter that the bright hopes for the future she went to sleep with last night are now gone. I try not to write about politics—this a blog about children’s books after all—but the politics are personal now. Because how do I explain that the person who will take over the reigns of this country in January is someone I would not allow her in the same room with? Someone who talks gleefully about deporting her friends who came here from other countries, and mocks the ones with disabilities. Someone who thinks our LGBTQ friends and family should be stripped of their rights. Someone who believes that anyone who doesn’t share his skin color or a single religion is beneath him. Someone who thinks she and I are both lesser because we are female.

For her sake, I will bury the fire inside me for a little while. I’ll be calm and talk to her about the election results so as not to panic her. And I’ll tell her—and genuinely believe—that the lessons I’ve always gleaned from my personal Good Book, Middlemarch, are truer and more necessary now than ever. Like that book’s estimable Miss Brooke, we will work to widen the circle of light. We’ll strive to be among the many people who work to make the world better by living our lives faithfully. And we’ll look out for the people around us—the ones we know and the ones we’ve never met before.

Then today and in the days that follow, I’ll work to keep editing and writing books for young people. I’ll know deep in my heart that creating literature for kids will be its own means of widening that circle of light. And I’ll take comfort in that.

But I don’t want to lose the fire and the anger and the frustration I feel right now. I don’t want to grow complacent and have the outrageous become the everyday. Months ago, when my daughter asked if we’d move to Canada if the election didn’t go the way we’d hoped, I told her calmly but firmly that no, we’d stay and we’d fight for what’s right.

Here’s hoping that this is something we can all that do in our own ways, large and small. The next few years are going to be a bumpy ride. But I’ve got my seatbelt fastened. And I’m ready to face whatever comes.