“I saw something in my community today that far outweighed the fear we all felt. I saw people holding each other. That love is what I am choosing to take away from this day.

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By EMILY HAYES-RICH.

There is no question that for many people, the meaning of the phrase “United States of America” has changed.  At the moment, it seems the nation is terribly divided.  But the people of the nation are still coming together, finding new ways to support each other, hoping that we will both Keep America Great and stay Stronger Together.  This short essay by Emily Hayes-Rich, a native of New Mexico and a sophomore at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, shows that at heart the USA can still be a nation of people who want the best for each other….

………

When I was walking to class this morning, the campus was eerily silent and the faces of the people that I passed were filled with fear. It was the fear that I saw in my roommate’s eyes as I walked back into the room at 11 o’clock. The same fear that I saw on the face of my friend as he watched Trump give his election speech. The same fear I heard in my mom’s texts as we texted throughout the night. The same fear that I felt as my friend came into my room and hugged me, tears welling in her eyes. It was a fear that overwhelmed me, a fear that probably would have frozen me to the core. 


But there was something else that I saw this morning. I saw people holding each other. I saw the love in my friends’ eyes as they hugged me when they saw me. I felt the unity and bonds that we had as we leaned on each other. The dozens of texts I received from friends and family telling me they loved me and that we were going to get through this. 


There is so much fear in this country. I believe that the same fear that I feel now is the same fear that people felt yesterday when they voted for Trump. We are all afraid. We are afraid for our future. But what I saw today in the wake of all of this fear was something far stronger than it. 


I do not believe in what Trump stands for but I do believe in the kindness and love that people have for each other. I believe in the strength strangers and loved ones showed me today. I believe that we all want a future where we are not afraid. 


I was hugged by more people in the past 24 hours than in the past year combined. That love is what I am choosing to take away from this day. That love and strength that I felt in this campus and from my friends and family across the nation. I do believe that we can create a world where we are not afraid. I believe that because I saw something in my community today that far outweighed the fear we all felt. 


Thank you to all those who showed love, and strength, and compassion in a time when it is easy to turn towards hatred, and anger, and fear.

 

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Image:  the author after a hike near Santa Fe, New Mexico.