I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure this election season was the absolute worst. Granted, I haven't participated in too many presidential elections in my adult life, but from what I hear and read, it seems we've never been more divided as a country (except maybe the Civil War? But that seems like a low bar to set).
At first glance, I saw two basic reactions to the election's outcome:
- Utter despair/hate: OMG. I can't believe that racist, sexist, misogynistic man won. There is so much evil and so many bad people in the world. We must riot and hate these people in order to change. Super divisive.
- Victory dance: TRUMP WINS!!!! He's going to uproot the establishment and bring real change to America. He's not afraid to say all the stuff (good or bad) that needs to be said. Pro-wall. Anti-LGBT. Anti-immigration. KKK-Endorsed. Super divisive.
Did you notice the same in your social media feed? It's rather alarming - not just who people support, but the reaction to who people support.
And then I saw people who I love and respect posting articles or engaging in discussions with The Other Side. And for a moment (actually many moments, I admit), I was so angry at those people who supported the other candidate. And it seemed to me that I was not the only one spiraling into despair/hate/depression/etc.
Guys, we're better than that.
The United States of America is a really special place. We are a rare country that is truly made up of immigrants. Even if the demographic where you live isn't very colorful, you'll find a mix of all kinds of European countries in the heritage.
America "the Melting Pot" is different than other countries that I've been to. While traveling in Europe, Asia, and Central America, I found that almost everybody who lived there had been living there for generations. That's just not how it is here; in fact, being Native American is actually a minority.
Our diversity is our strength. The different economic and social views give us balance. Neither absolute socialism (ahem, communism) nor absolute capitalism is the best option. And neither utilitarianism nor humanism nor deism is absolutely correct. We need each other to balance these extreme views.
After the initial shock and reactions to the election results from either side of the table, I started to notice a Third Way emerge in my social media feed.
I saw the messages from Trump supporters, who were devastated to be called a racist or a bigot - these people voted for change, not for division.
I saw the messages from Clinton supporters, who instead of calling people names started to make an agenda of how to love other people.
And I began to think: if we're so divided that the person that wins the electoral college doesn't also win the popular vote, we need to do something different. Not "we the government," but "we the people" - because (spoiler) in an active, engaged democratic republic, the people are the government.
You know what? I realized that I'm part of the problem. I only engage people in conversation if I know we agree. In the past year I've never once sat down and really listened in order to understand - without an agenda to try to convince the person of my own beliefs.
Several of my friends have posted or discussed tangible action plans to respond to the hate (from both sides of the fence) that is dividing America today. I challenge you to make a list of your own. Then share it. With your friends, your co-workers, your families. Post it in the comments section below, stick it to your fridge, or tweet it to the world.
We may not be united in thought, in creed, in race, or in politics, but we must be united in love against hate of any kind. As a collective, let's change this world's heart.
With so much love, Peas and Hoppiness