I didn’t stay up to watch the 2016 election results; I had asked my daughter to alert me in case of the apocalypse.

I know many didn’t see the election results in the same dire terms, but after watching the in-your-face racism, sexism, and ablism of the eventual winner, many did see…and felt the same sense of unease. In fact, I felt a palpable heaviness as I walked through downtown Chicago, like the city itself was weary.

I remember reading some well-written, heartfelt pieces that made me cry; some articulate, angry pieces that called me to action; and of course, Awesomely Luvvie ’cause she makes me howl even when she’s angry. Oh yeah, and the Joe Biden memes—much-needed laughs.

In retrospect, it seems that 2016 was a call to action heeded by many. The protests, to include the worldwide eruptions of 2017 in support of rights of the marginalized as well as those in 2020 against police brutality, have led to education about and engagement in our fragile democracy. The inequality and injustice visable in 2020 has provided clarity about the state of the United States…for those who would see.

So on this beautiful election day in my adopted state, I am grateful for those who are participating in our version of democracy, some for the first time. I am grateful for all the effort expended to get people to the polls, to fight blatant disenfranchisement, to protect against voter intimidation…every action taken to ensure every vote counts. I am grateful for the urgent engagement of so many young people…millions of Millennials as well as the diverse, politically astute Gen Z’ers.

And I am hopeful that we stay awake and alert because this is not the end. This is just the beginning.

“Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in each generation.” ~ Coretta Scott King