I had another blog planned for this week, but it didn’t seem relevant given the high emotions after the election. Since last Wednesday, 50% of the country has been happy and hopeful. The other 50% – which includes me – is devastated and scared.

That’s put me through all the states of mourning. Shock, sadness, questioning, anger, denial, trying to figure out what to do. And during my hours and hours of reading articles online, trying to understand, I came to an important conclusion.

My mom raised me and my two sisters mostly by herself. Even though money was tight, she managed to take us all over the world. Before I turned 18, I’d been to Egypt, Turkey, Mexico, Norway, and all over Europe. Her motto was, “If the locals can get there, so can we.” She has this insatiable sense of adventure, and it was all about trying to understand, appreciate, and integrate into other cultures. She made friends everywhere, even if she didn’t speak the language.

And so I learned, early on and in a very hands-on way, that every human is unique and has something valuable to offer. We are all equal and deserve freedom and justice. I believe that in the core of my being.

But it wasn’t until this election that I realized those are number-one values for me.

Sometimes, in a situation like this, the aftermath can be positive. People get energized to take action and express their voice. They soul-search and they come to a deeper understanding of their own values, like I did. And ideally that understanding leads to positive, effective action.

On the flip side, people can also embrace or apathy or martyrdom. “Who cares, it’s not going to make a difference anyway, it doesn’t matter what I do.”

That’s important for us to keep in check.

At the very end of the day, it does make a difference. What happens in the world, and what we choose to do about it – those things make an enormous difference.

They make a difference to who we are, what we stand for, and what we don’t stand for.

This week has been a real search for meaning, purpose, and who we are as individuals. People have different values systems, which is part of living in a free nation. People who felt disenfranchised finally felt heard, and that’s important. That’s one of the foundations of this country. And it’s also important for those who are hurting now to be heard.

We have to continue the conversation. To continue to seek solutions. And it’s going to require the voices of both sides. We need everybody in this country. We cannot shut out a voice because it disagrees with us.

I don’t know exactly what that looks like for me yet. I don’t know if you do. But what I’ve taken from this difficult week is this question (and I hope it’s useful to you too, no matter your political opinion):

How can we refrain from falling into apathy, and still honor our values, our voice, and the greater good of the people in this nation, and the people in the world?