With the ultimately dire situation America is in with the election, I thought I’d share the piece I wrote on this blog as well. It’s a piece I wrote after a particularly eye-opening conversation with a St. Maarten local, about none other than the infamous Donald Trump. Enjoy. And don’t vote for our country’s demise. My patience is running thin, as you can tell, with the woefully ignorant and sad idiots who think Trump will amount to anything more than a dark disgrace upon our history. But I digress. I implore you to read this thoroughly… for your own good.
The Rest of the World is Watching
It was a lengthy drive from Maho Beach back to the port where our ship was docked. We were sun-soaked and sleepy and more than thankful that the cab driver we’d met that morning had offered to drive us back over the island mountains. I sat in the front seat of the cab and watched him switch back and forth between radio stations while the heavy traffic stopped and started repeatedly.
We bumped and lurched along the uneven dirt road, and I took an interest in studying every person we passed by. There was a tired looking woman walking hand-in-hand with an excited child, who kept pulling her along up the hill to her displeasure. There was small greying man, riding a bike with a dog in the front basket; I stifled a laugh, noticing the dog looked not unlike his owner, being small, grey and rather scruffy. We even passed a few people who recognized our driver, and waved and shouted his name as we rumbled by.
After settling on a station, the driver looked in his review mirror at the rest of my family in the back seats, surveying us coolly.
“You are American, yes?” He asked in his deep island accent.
“Yes, from South Carolina.” My father answered.
The driver paused for a moment, and looked as though he was deciding whether or not to continue speaking. He switched the radio station again with anxious fingers, and glanced for a second time into the review mirror. In the end, he decided to keep the conversation going.
“It’s crazy there now, isn’t it? With the election?” He inquired. This took us mildly by surprise, seeing as we thought we may get some relief from the dismaying subject, since we were not on American soil.
“Yes,” most of us answered in unison, an involuntary shame quickly veiling our faces. We felt a heavy embarrassment for our country sitting ominously on our shoulders as we sat there, sheepishly.
There was silence for a few seconds, and we started to think of ways to apologize for our country’s recent stupidity, in case the driver asked how we’d sunk ourselves into the most horrific election in history.
I saw our driver crack a small, nervous smile. “Can I ask you a favor?” he said carefully. Traffic stopped again and we all looked toward him, waiting to see what he would request. “Don’t vote for Trump.”
We laughed immediately, but almost apologetically, having noticed the hollowness of his voice.
“God no, we would never!” I said to him. My family expressed similar disgusted explanations, but I could feel we all were aching to apologize on behalf of our country’s outrageously shameful behavior.
“I talk to so many other Americans, and some really like him.” He said, and there was a tone of raw disbelief imparted on the latter three words.
“I know,” my father answered him. “It’s disturbing what people will believe and support when they’re angry.”
“He’s foul,” I exclaimed, contemptuously.
The driver nodded and smiled, “The man’s a joke– even here in my country.” He shook his head as a dry laugh escaped him. “What I don’t understand,” he said, an incredulous look crossing his face. “Is that America was founded on the idea of freedom… and now they rally behind a man who threatens to destroy it all.”
At that moment, a deep pothole in the road caused us all to suddenly jerk forward, saving us from having to answer immediately, as shame once again stole our voices.
I was the first to recover. “It’s mob mentality, really, that’s got people behind him.” I anxiously played with a few frayed threads on my beach towel as I continued, donning a tone that told the driver clearly I was no part of this savage mob. “Hatred in America has never really been wiped out, but instead covered up. Every so often it resurfaces, some times more violently than others.” I tucked the edge of the towel under my leg, deciding this was too important a conversation to be distracted from. “Now every classist, racist, selfish and spiteful American has been validated. They have been told it’s ‘okay’ to be angry and hateful and destructive to society because someone– running for the presidency, no less– is just as angry, hateful and destructive.”
I felt my cheeks flush, as I took a breath to continue with renewed passion—but the driver held up his hand in a gesture to cut in, and I begrudgingly came to a halt in my sermon.
“America seems to forget one key thing among this insanity,” He said, warily, glancing back again into the mirror. “The rest of the world is watching.”
Everything seemed to come to an abrupt halt. And though the moment of silence was no longer than a few seconds, it was one of the loudest I had heard. Then, as if I was hearing again for the first time, his humbling words echoed over and over in my head.
I was thrust back into reality as the driver continued.
“The United States, for many years, has been a role model to the rest of the world. It has been a clear picture of what freedom and democracy is supposed to look like.” He shook his head. “And now, you have this monstrosity running for the presidency? What does that tell the world?”
The car came to a stop as we watched an elderly woman shuffle across the road in front of us, her tattered purse in one hand, and a few grocery bags in the other.
“Hate is not something we should live by. America has fought long and hard, even within itself, to wipe out hatred. It would be a reversal of progress if you appointed one of the most malicious people to your most prestigious office.” He paused, evidently waiting for a response or agreement, but we were too moved by his words to speak just yet.
“The world looks to you; we were laughing at Trump in the beginning, thinking he was a publicity stunt… but now, we could not be more scared about the decision your people will make.”
My mind flashed vivid images of the videos I’d seen of Trump supporters screaming racial slurs and holding vulgar signs — of Trump throwing out peaceful protestors and Democratic supporters from his rallies, all while violence raged among his spiteful mob.
“To tell you the truth,” I said quietly. “We’re all scared too.”
That afternoon in St. Maarten, I was brought back to the stark, unbending reality that a single choice, by a single person, has immeasurable effects on countless lives. We are far from impervious to the decisions of others, and it is time we understood the meaning of the word “consequence”. I urge you not to be part of this spiteful injustice that slowly tears our nation down, day by day; instead, be part of its rebirth and growth toward the long-dreamt vision of a country that strives on both its individuality and its equality. Though hatred still rages in the hearts of those in the deeper corners of our beloved nation, it is the duty of those who still believe in a free America to will acceptance and progress and equality into a reality.