I am tired. Drained. Mentally exhausted. Spent. Sad.
In fact, in all honesty, I am sitting here making dinner for my family and I am nearly in tears.
This divide hurts my heart. Never in my life have I felt so scared for the future of our country.
Not even after 9/11, and I say that not because Trump winning the election was a bigger tragedy, I say it because on that very tragic day, despite all of the terror, our country came together. We lifted each other up, we cried together, and the only thing that mattered was that we were all humans who needed help and comfort. And we helped and we comforted. We were brave and we were proud and we were one.
Today we are white men, white women, whiners, misogynists, immigrants, blacks, crybabies, racists, deplorables, Muslims, anti-Muslim, gays, homophobes, Jews, anti-Semites, the list goes on. We are ripping each other to shreds. We are not individual human beings all in this together, we are divided. And it’s pretty freaking heartbreaking.
I guess I was naive to think the disappointment over the results of the election would blow over in a few days and we could all go back to sharing memes about how much we love wine and pictures of our cute kids who drive us to drink it. I knew this campaign was heated, with valid points on both sides, but I thought no matter what happens everything would be OK. I even tried to share some things that gave me hope, not to belittle anyone’s very real fears, but to encourage people to think positive.
Now I realize it’s not so simple. It’s not simple for some to understand why others are so petrified. And it’s not simple for me to explain to anyone how or why I actually truly do understand both sides of such a heated debate.
At the same time, we are destroying each other with labels, shame, and blame. We are dividing ourselves by sharing things that dump groups into a box and label them “good” and “bad”. I can’t be the only one who is rolling my eyes at so many things that are crossing my feed. I can’t be the only one who is starting to get really overwhelmed and scared that this anger and hostility is going to get worse – maybe a lot worse – before it gets better. I can’t be the only one who has read something seemingly directed at me or my “classification of people” and thought “but dammit that is not true, that is not me, that is not who I am!”
It’s exhausting. I’m not against working tirelessly for something, but all of this negative energy is festering and nothing positive is getting done.
So… Now what? What do we do? How can we start a real conversation when so many people are so convinced they are right and the other side is dead wrong? Have we lost all ability to listen because we are too busy screaming so loud?
Here’s what I would love… I would love to see people stop sharing articles and memes and stories with the intention of making other people feel bad. Even if just for one day. I know, I know, we shouldn’t have to apologize if our hurt feelings make someone else feel guilt or shame, but I can’t take anymore. We are pushing each other away. Friendships are ending, families are falling apart.
The truth is we have a badly broken and highly corrupt political system. Given that, most people truly voted to preserve their lives, health, and livelihood. We all have different needs, and we all as humans have a right to vote for the situation we think can best serve our needs and the needs of our children and families.
So instead of perpetuating blame and shame, when things pop up and they challenge you, or when you see something and your first reaction is to be outraged and offended, open your heart and your mind instead. Read and try to understand what other people have to say. Click on that article that might challenge your position. Put yourself in the writer’s shoes and read that blog post about an experience that might push you to have a change of heart. Listen, hear, and understand each other, even though it’s hard. It’s easy to read and understand things that we agree with, but if we want to be heard we should really start listening.
To my friends who are worried that their right to marry the person they love is threatened, I hear you.
To my friends who may be faced with making a decision no woman wants to make who fear their right to do so safely is threatened, I hear you.
To my very best friend who worries that a change in immigration policy could rip her beautiful family apart, I hear you.
To my friends in law enforcement who are scared when their husbands leave to deal with protests that could turn violent every night, I hear you.
I went to see The Fray last night and toward the end of the show Isaac Slade talked for a minute about the current state of our country. He said he had spent the day walking around our nation’s beautiful capital and he thought about how it is going to be OK. And then he said well maybe it’s not going to be OK, but we’ll figure it out anyway. And he said that whether you are in a band, or a friendship, or a marriage, or a country… you come to a point where despite trouble and conflict you decide we’re going to do this… and you work through it and you do it and you grow. I wish I had it on video because it was pretty amazing.
I don’t have answers, I don’t think any of us do. I think we all want to live in peace with each other though. We have good hearts though our minds think differently. So let’s try to listen, hear, and understand… It’s at least a start.
More soon… Thank you for reading.