Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Trump

I’d like to share some gratitude, in the spirit of our upcoming, uniquely American holiday:

I’m grateful for the opportunity to turn my anger and frustration over this election into positive action. As painful as the catalyst might be, it snaps me out of my complacency and strengthens my resolve.

I’m grateful I live in a country where I can give that anger and resolve my full voice. My grandfather spent almost six years in jail for writing newspaper articles that criticized his government in Burma. Things are only now just beginning to change there and in many other parts of the world.

But with great power comes. . . well, you know. All of us who enjoy the freedom of speaking out must respect its power to heal or destroy —AND TO INCITE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME. We like to hold famous athletes and movie stars accountable for saying things that may be misused by admirers, and I agree people who wield influence should be held to higher, not lower standards. So if it’s true that Trump didn’t mean many of the bigoted things he said, as some supporters have told me, that’s even more deplorable. It’s bad enough to espouse hatred because of your beliefs. But to do it simply to win? Unforgivable.

Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the understanding that all of us who want the freedom to speak our minds must make room for others who disagree with us to do the same. If I have a right to my voice, so does everyone else. We must listen, not just to one another’s ideas, but to the desire behind those ideas. Because no matter how infuriating someone might be, chances are that, underneath, that person wants happiness, safety, and love, just as you do. 

(A note to those who are singling out Trump voters and calling them evil or racist: generalizing and making assumptions about people is exactly what we are objecting to, remember?)

(A note to those Trump voters being labeled: it’s wrong for others to generalize about you and discriminate against you—to put a target on the backs of specific groups of people, based on nothing but a misconception about them. Get it? )

I’m grateful for clarity. There are many issues I’m either easy-going about, or uninformed about, or both. But a couple things have been nagging at me for a long time, and I’m glad to see them bursting out into the open, screaming at me that they need finally to be heard.

For me, one of those things is the misconception that girls and women are just a bit less capable and qualified, and just a bit more annoying and unreasonable, than their male counterparts. Yes, things have improved greatly from how they used to be, but women are still shockingly underrepresented in politics, journalism, corporate leadership, and even creative industries like Hollywood.

That doesn’t mean men and women should be the same; they are different, after all. I am the first to admit that being a woman comes with certain advantages; I’m aware how I benefitted from being an attractive woman in my first career as an actress. But the point is to be aware so that we can strive for balance.

When my daughter was eight, she made a comment about men doing all the great things first. I asked her why she thought so, and she replied, “Because I see all the statues.” The inequalities are everywhere, and they are so embedded in our culture that we often don’t see them.

Even many women don’t seem to be aware of how much sexism played into the way Clinton was demonized. She, like anyone else, deserves criticism for any wrongdoing—but the fact is, she was running against someone who has also been accused of doing many, many bad things, and somehow, it counted against her more.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that everything that Clinton and Trump have ever been accused of is true. We still end up with one criminal who is highly qualified, and one criminal who is a salesperson. Now pretend that the highly qualified criminal were a man. Or, alternatively, that the salesperson criminal were a woman. Would there have been a hesitation about who to choose? I’m grateful for the awareness of just how insidious and pervasive these inequities are.

Finally, I’m grateful for my community. From near and far, I am bolstered by those who want happiness, safety and love—not just for themselves, but for others. I am honored to be the change with all of you. You know that nothing truly moves forward without cooperation and that those who get their way through force or manipulation may appear to have won, but that the universe always strives, as we do, toward balance.

Wishing you, each of you, a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving.