Many people like to refer to Tom Hanks as America’s Dad. When he tells us everything is going to be okay, we believe him because he has never let us down. *knocks on wood, crosses fingers while touching a screw and turning around thrice* Last week, Michael Moore suggested the Democrats should run Hanks for president in 2020. Although Hanks said he wanted ‘to strangle’ Moore for suggesting him for a position for which he is not qualified, he also understood that he could help in a way that few could: he could tuck us in and tell us the boogey man won’t get us. Hanks was honored with a tribute to his career at the Museum of Modern Art Film Benefit on Tuesday where he was celebrated by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Chesley Sullenberger, Ron Howard, Emma Watson, Steve Martin, Clint Eastwood and Rajendra Roy. Hanks used part of his acceptance speech to comfort this fellow Americans by telling them they were going to be fine in the wake of the election. You can read his entire speech here but below is the part where he said it’ll be okay:
We are going to be all right. America has been in worst places than we are at right now. In my own lifetime, our streets were in chaos, our generations were fighting each other tooth and nail, and every dinner table ended up being as close to a fist fight as our families would allow.
We have been in a place where we looked at our leaders and wondered what the hell were they thinking of? We’ve had moments with administrations and politicians and leaders and Senators and governors where we asked ourselves, Are they lying to us? Or do they really believe in this? That’s all right.
We have this magnificent thing that is in place, it’s a magnificent document, and it starts off with these phrases that if you’re smart enough, you memorized in school, or, just read it enough so you learned it by heart, or, you kind of watched those things on ABC where they taught you little songs, and the song goes like, [sings] “We the People … in Order to form a more perfect Union. establish Justice and insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare,” and it goes on and on. That. That document is going to protect us, over and over again, whether or not our neighbors preserve and protect and defend it themselves.
We are going to be all right, because we constantly get to tell the whole world who we are. We constantly get to define ourselves as Americans. We do have the greatest country in the world. We may move at a slow pace, but we do have the greatest country in the world, because we are always moving towards a more perfect Union.
That journey never ceases. It never stops. Sometimes, like in a Bruce Springsteen song, one step forward, two steps back. But we still, aggregately, move forward. We, who are a week into wondering what the hell just happened, will continue to move forward. We have to choose to do so. But we will move forward, because if we do not move forward, what is to be said about us?
I love any shout out to Schoolhouse Rock. Yes, his speech is just words but words are what we have right now. Like Oprah, I am currently looking for any excuse to breathe. Hanks isn’t telling us to get over it, he’s reminding us we’ve been down before. Once we take a minute to process what’s happened, we’ll figure a way to right this. Words can do wonders. President Roosevelt’s soothed us through the Depression and most of World War II with his Fireside Chats. Maybe we could enlist Hanks to start them up again to get us through Trumps presidency?
In the meantime, we need to continue to act on our discomfort to challenge Trump’s presidency. If you voted third party then challenge his government for whatever causes you felt your candidate advocated. If you voted for Trump and swear you are neither sexist nor racist, then challenge the racist or sexist aspects of his policy. If you voted for Trump because you feel America is better when we only cater to white men… well, you’ve probably stopped reading this by now.
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