There have been a countless number of articles, Facebook posts, tweets, and discussions about the events of the past few days, weeks, months, and year. Trump has won the white house, it is true. Now, we wade through the aftermath. There have been protests, hate crimes, name calling, and tears. People are scared and confused; they are looking for answers, they are looking to lay blame.
Blame has been thrown around and hurled at everyone. It has been directed at Republicans, calling them racists and idiots, it has been directed at third-party voters, saying they wasted their vote, it has been directed at liberals, calling them elitist and blind. If you listen long enough you will find everyone blamed and you will hear hundreds of opinions on how to change the results, how to move forward, and how to feel.
The most recent blame has been directed at liberals, the protesters who so believed a Trump presidency was impossible. Blind to the woes of the working class, speaking over them to the point where they were cowed and embarrassed, making them feel dumb: these are our sins. These allegations are not untrue, but they only look at one point, one side, and one perspective. They forget that the other side is guilty of the same faults.
I am not interested in politics, I haven’t been since I was conscious enough to understand our government and listen to the people who aim to run our country. This is not because I am apathetic about my country, or because I have a short attention span, or am uninterested in the problems of the world. It is because as soon as I opened my ears to the political forum, I was overwhelmed by a cacophony of disrespect. I listened to the news and I heard politicians shouting over each other, striving to counter-point their opponent before they had even had the chance to fully make their argument. I heard labeling of anyone who disagreed, regardless of whether they were liberal or conservative, as ignorant and embarrassing. If you were conservative, you were backwards, racist, and sexist. If you were liberal, you were elitist, naïve, and privileged. The amount of contempt that everyone participating in the arena seemed to feel for the opposition had only one name in my young mind: mean. It was mean, and ugly, and hard. It was everything I was against and so I tuned it out.
Now, a man who campaigned off of actual racism, misogyny, and fear mongering has claimed our country’s highest office, and what do I hear: hate, name-calling, and disrespect.
I must draw, for myself, a few lines so that I can move forward as an adult and take part in the future of our country because it is no longer acceptable to stand on the outside. It is time to be involved. So, in that endeavor, a few clear understandings:
- A minority of Americans are genuinely racist and they have taken this election result as a vindication of their feelings. Because of that, they are attacking people both emotionally through verbal insults and physically through abuse. This is not acceptable and must be stopped by liberals and conservatives alike, by both parties and particularly by our President elect. All people, regardless of color, religion, gender, or creed, deserve basic human rights and the opportunity to live their life free of fear.
- There are genuine issues in America right now that span racism, sexism, and classism. These are topics that must be aired and discussed in a respectful environment. There are no second-class citizens here. One person’s problems are no more important than another’s and we must open our hearts, minds, and ears to the pleas coming from rural as well as urban areas, women as well as men, and minorities as well as majorities. For too long people living in the rural parts of our country have been called ignorant, for too long has racism simmered below the surface and been ignored, for too long has everyday sexism been put up with for fear of ridicule. This is also unacceptable.
- Everyone has felt belittled and out of place and instead of reacting with defensiveness we need to stop and think with empathy and discuss. Bring out your therapy hats because everyone has been guilty of acting thoughtlessly. Many people grew up in small rural towns where there is an accepted way of doing things. Those who were different, maybe because they were gay or questioned too much or were “overdramatic,” were bullied by peers, parents, or even teachers. They left because their situation was unbearable. Many people in urban environments, who hold higher degrees or have delved into the cultural sphere, look down upon these same small towns and call them ignorant, slow, and backwards. This is a vicious cycle of cruelty that has been going on for far too long and is also not acceptable. No one should be put down for who they are, it is high time everyone educated themselves in empathy.
Enough name calling, enough finger pointing, ENOUGH. Think about how you would explain things to a child. For a moment, step away from the excuse that this is more complicated than a child can grasp and simplify it. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Are you being nice? If you wouldn’t want to see a child treating someone the way you are, then something is wrong.
Yes, the opposing political party has an agenda that at times directly opposes yours. Yes, many of the things each side fights for cannot exist together. So yes, protest and protect your rights because so many of us have been fighting for them for so long and must continue to fight. And yes, question your government, pay attention to what your politicians are doing and take them to task if they are unconstitutional and defy the human rights of the people who call the US home. Do not stoop to petty and cruel behavior, it is unnecessary and in the end it is damaging.
We all have a dream for the world that we want to live in. We all want to leave a better world to our children. Sometimes these worlds are directly opposing. Rarely will they agree. Remember that the US was founded on freedom of religion, free speech, and the right to the pursuit of happiness. It has not been perfect and we have continued to fight up to now and must continue to fight. All I know is that this fight must be civil. There is no easy answer, no one person to blame, so stop that. Anger is an implacable fire that will burn you alive. Resentment only breeds more resentment. Grudges will fix nothing. Educate yourself on why you believe what you believe. Study history, study policy, read, and develop a clear and strong argument. Do not just parrot what you hear from family, friends, the news, or the internet. Listen to the arguments of others. There is only one way out and that is forward. Pushing others down, and here I am speaking to everyone, will only drag you back. When you are drowning, if you try to keep your head above water by pushing someone down as if they are a buoy, then you will both drown. If you calm down, collect yourself, and remember that you can float, you will.
Trump was elected because too many people felt marginalized. People are now angry because they are afraid of being marginalized. We are all afraid of losing the good things in our lives that we have fought so hard for. I am scared for my rights as a woman: my reproductive rights, my safety, and my place in society. I am scared for the rights and safety of my friends who span all races and religions. These are scary times, but people on the other side of the election are scared too. Most people do not choose to do evil, they do what they think is good and someone else views it as evil. Try to understand and if you still disagree then fight, but fight intelligently and fight kindly. At the end of the day, we are all people. Set the good example, be empathetic and respectful in your arguments. Taking the high road does not mean giving up, it means fighting with dignity.