“You can’t control what happens in life but you can control your reaction to it.”
These words were written in a letter to me when I was in my early 20’s and suffering terribly from depression.
They were the very wise words of my wonderful Great Uncle David.
In the past few days this phrase has been running through my mind.
On Wednesday 9th November 2016, I woke up to a world that I didn’t recognise.
Donald Trump had been announced as the President Elect.
During his campaign he incited fear and hatred. He slandered women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, immigrants, people with disabilities, Jews, Muslims, the LGBT community and even babies.
He was endorsed by Vladimir Putin and the Ku Klux Klan.
And now Donald Trump is going to be the most powerful man in the world.
Over the past few days I have read many articles and blogs responding to the announcement. I have watched TV reports and political analysis. I have discussed the news with my parents and my husband. And the overwhelming theme is one of uncertainty and fear.
Our world seems a more dangerous place. It is terrifying to predict what might happen now a man filled with hatred and intolerance is the President of the USA.
The unbelievable has happened and many have lost their faith in humanity.
But the unbelievable has happened many times before and we have survived. And in my lifetime there have been many moments when fear has gripped me, the world has felt alien and filled with hatred.
The threat of the IRA; the Yugoslav and Gulf Wars; mass genocide in Rwanda; September 11; the 7th July bombings in London; the conflict in Syria and the murder of Lee Rigby.
I will always remember where I was when I heard about the death of Lee Rigby. It was the day after I had given birth to our precious baby girl.
Little Miss H and I were still in hospital. We were in a ward with four other mums, dads and their new babies.
One of these new dads decided to play the video of Lee Rigby’s death on a loop for 30 minutes.
I lay in my hospital bed, holding my daughter and silent tears rolled down my cheeks.
How could I have been so selfish to bring a baby into this cruel world? How could I protect her from the darkness? What would her future be?
And in those moments, listening to that heinous act of violence over and over again, I had an epiphany.
I realised that I can’t protect my daughter from the world. Bad things happen.
But the world goes on turning and babies continue to be born.
And each time a child enters the world we are given a new start.
We are handed the opportunity to build a new future and a new world.
And as a parent, we are given the job to teach our children how to love.
We need to educate them to look at the world and see the light and not the darkness. To see the similarities between people and not the differences.
So I have made a decision.
I am no longer going to indulge in the post-mortem over the Presidential Elections. I am no longer going to be scared and fearful. I am not going to let this news make me feel anxious and depressed.
Because as my Uncle David said, I can not control what has happened but I can control how I respond to it.
And my response is this.
I am going to look to the light.
I am going to strive to be the best person that I can be.
I am going to be less judgmental of others.
I am going to do more to support good causes.
I am going to give up more time to help those less fortunate than myself.
I am going to gossip less.
I am going to look for the good in everyone that I meet.
I am going to perform more random acts of kindness.
I am going to really listen when people talk.
I am going to forgive and forget.
I am going to be as kind and loving as I can be.
I am going to be the light.
And I want to encourage you to do the same.
Strive to become a better person. Fight to make this world a more beautiful place.
Do not give in to the darkness. Do not let the uncertainty of the world fill you with fear and anger.
Be the light.
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”
Eleanor Roosevelt, political campaigner and First Lady