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Truly, we are a nation divided. But the stakes are quite different for each side. Those of us who are vulnerable and marginalized stare down annihilation.

Photo from Unsplash by Trent Yarnell.
Photo from Unsplash by Trent Yarnell.

As a cultural scholar and educator, I find it fascinating that such starkly opposed worldviews coexist within the same nation. As a queer Jewish-atheist woman, I’m terrified for myself and those I love. This is because we must find a way to coexist with those who wish us harm.

The electoral college has voted into office people who stand behind a platform that supports conversion therapy, which as I’ve written about is a death sentence for queer people. They’re intent on shutting down Planned Parenthood clinics and rolling back the ACA, which helps low-income folks get health care. And the racism and xenophobia are palpable.

All Americans are in this together, and those of us who are at risk must make peace with the fact that we don’t wish the other side ill…but they want to eradicate us. They want to deport immigrants, ban Muslims, regulate women’s bodies, convert gay folks, jail trans folks for peeing…the list goes on and on. This is not fear-mongering; this is policy from the mouths of multiple Republicans.

If anything is going to save this country, it will be recognizing the objective ills that plague us all, and banding together to collectively fight them. We could waste time and cause untold suffering by trying to weed out human lives that don’t fit the white male Christian cisgender heterosexual naturalized norm…or we could look at the problems that collectively impact us, and address those.

Those of us who are vulnerable are also resilient. So the folks who think we’re trying to make their children gay or convert them to atheism or Islam or whatever could try to erase us… but we’ll stay strong together. We’re too connected now, thanks to the internet and social activism, to be isolated and made invisible on a grand scale ever again.

Instead, let’s eradicate poverty. Let’s eradicate hunger. I volunteer at Gleaners, a local food bank that helps supply the needy in the greater Indianapolis area. One in eight Indiana residents needs help meeting their food needs – and this under a Christian governor soon to be our vice president. Clearly, we have a lot of work left to do.

Let’s eradicate illness. Let’s make sure everyone has access to all medical services, including dental care and contraception and abortion (even if that last one’s controversial – recall that making contraception and factual sex education universally accessible will cut abortion rates drastically).

Let’s eradicate illiteracy and ignorance. More education for all, more connectedness, more community, whether online or in person. More exposure to the life experiences of others will lead to more empathy. As a folklorist, I can assure you of this; when we hear each other’s personal narratives, the vulnerability goes both ways, and we learn what it is like to lead a different life, and we empathize with the person living that life.

Join us to do this, and maybe you won’t get the all-white Christian nation that you were apparently hoping for, but instead you get a diverse nation with waaaay less suffering. If you want to come after us, at the cost of objectively-demonstrable anguish, with people going hungry and sickening and dying needlessly…well…that’s your call. But you might want to take a good hard look at yourselves and your religious beliefs, because we are not out to harm you, and you are out to harm us.

Think on it. The lives of Americans everywhere depend on our ability to address the real issues that impact the common good. I’d rather live in a diverse society full of weirdos where everyone got an education and enough to eat than the alternative that this election seems to be pointing us toward.

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Jeana Jorgensen

FOXY FOLKORIST Studied folklore under Alan Dundes at the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to earn her PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She researches gender and sexuality in fairy...