January 20, 2017 was a day that truly opened my eyes to the situation in our country. (And no, this is not a piece shaming the current or former president, so if you are looking for that kind of article, please look elsewhere.) In fact, shockingly so, this isn’t even a piece about our government, imperfect as it may be. This is just me expressing my sadness and disappointment with “we the people” of this country who are supposed to comprise its greatness.
What I witnessed this past year, that came to fruition on 1/20/17 and the days following, left a bad taste in my mouth, ashamed and wondering if we can come together as Americans again.
If you haven’t noticed by now that there is a great chasm that divides our country, you must be living under a rock, under an even bigger rock, on a deserted island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. This seems to be a division not only heard across our land, but one that has made itself ugly known to the rest of the world. One that is currently displayed daily on our television screens.
Everyone in America has an opinion about the current political scene.
This, seems to be a double edge sword; We are lucky enough to have the freedom to have said opinion, but we’re unlucky enough that with the differing of opinions, we fall victim to the hate, malice and disunion it causes.
When did we as a country allow this to happen? When did we as friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors allow our own opinions to become “it is my way, or the highway?”
I will honestly admit, I have strong reasons why I voted the way I did, and many a time, I felt I needed my opinion to be heard, so I did the logical (at least it felt like it at the time) thing. I got my smart phone out and took my frustrations to the world of Facebook. Because, “duh, people really NEEDED to hear what I had to say, damnit!” Or so I felt…
And you know what I learned from those times? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! I already knew what was going to happen. The vast majority of my “friends” would agree with me, because hey, like-minded people associate with like-minded people. And the “others” who disagreed would state their opposing views that would get under my skin and frustrate me to no end. But, after I posted something the other day, questioning thoughts and actions from people on the “other side” and got the typical reaction I was expecting, something strange happened.
My cousin, who usually replies with a cynical comment that stirs the pot, makes everyone mad, and then leaves the conversation never to be heard of again, with what I can only imagine is an evil smirk on his face, posts the most eye-opening and yet oh so obvious article about why we just all can’t get along… We each have our own life story!
(See what I mean by obvious?)
We all have different upbringings that makes us lean one way or the other regarding political parties, policies, agendas, everything, really! Some grew up poor, some rich. Some in loving homes, some not. Some with a father and others with two moms. The list goes on and on.
So, I asked myself why is it that we can’t see past our noses and peaceably let one another have their opinions? I’m making an educated guess here, but I’m going to say FEAR. FEAR of our own opinion not mattering. FEAR of someone else’s opinion having a direct impact on our own lives. FEAR of an opposing opinion persuading us or our like-minded friends to the “dark side.”
Fear roots itself deep in our core and holds on tight if we let it (and trust me I know, I’m a true-blue hypochondriac, so I know a thing or two about fear, so much so I could probably teach a class on it!) But the good news is, I think we can fix this (un)great divide, IF we decide we want to.
We can do what we ask our quarreling children to do, sit down and talk about it. Heck, even lots of people in dispute will hire mediators to help resolve a conflict! So why don’t we try to mediate our own differences by sitting down to talk about them, instead of name calling, judging and clicking the “unfriend” button on Facebook?
Even though we all have our own story, I firmly believe we all want the same core things for our families. We want to be protected, healthy, accepted and secure, to name a few. So why don’t we choose to sit down with friends or acquaintances with different views and CALMLY hear them out with an OPEN MIND?
Does this mean we will change each other’s minds? No, probably not. But it would help us understand the other person better and see why they think the way they do, leaving less room for judgment and pettiness. Because who is to say one belief is better that the other? We are who we are because of how we were raised, but we do not need those differences to cause boundaries and chasms like they are currently.
We need those differences to recreate that beautiful melting pot that made America the great and wonderful nation she so desperately needs to be again. A country where not everyone has to think alike. A country where our voices can still be PEACEFULLY heard. A country where no matter who is in office, people will work together and move our nation forward. A country where you can choose to vote Republican or Democrat, Green Party or Independent, or not even vote at all!
Not every country is blessed to have these rights, and we should never lose sight of that, nor should we ever want that to change!
Do I think America can come together again? Yes, I do, but it isn’t going to be a president that unites us, it is going to be us. A unified front, that welcomes differences both of the conservative and liberal variety and everything in between. So, going forward I can only pray that even though we don’t always, if ever, see eye to eye, we can still live happily, lovingly and cohesively together!
*Please note: I do not live in a world of all butterflies and unicorns. I do know that people will still “unfriend” others, name call and throw the proverbial stone, but you can’t blame a girl for trying. I’m not dumb enough to think we will all sit together holding hands and sing campfire songs, but what can I say, I like it when everybody is happy and gets along! It was how I was raised! Ha!