Monthly Archives: Nov 2016

Politics
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It’s Time to Start a Conversation

Whenever I think back on last week’s election and the 18 months (maybe longer) that was the hell of this last election cycle, part of me wonders if there was anything I could have done differently. I’m a writer and a communicator. I’ve got opinions, but I almost never share them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I realize I am just one person with one viewpoint. In an online world with plenty of senseless noise, sometimes the last thing we need is one more person saying what they think.

I also believe, deeply and sincerely, that most change of hearts come not from yelling what we think at people who disagree but by building relationships and touching others on a personal, deep level. Sometimes the best way to encourage someone to consider your viewpoint is to prove you’re not the evil stereotype they have in their of mind of what they think “people like you” are.

Unfortunately, I also hate confrontation, and political discourse is almost guaranteed to devolve into arguments and accusations at some point.

So I hesitated. Stopped in my tracks, truly. Would anyone care? Would I be a source of more noise? Could I stand up to hate and vitriol without losing myself?

I didn’t have answers but a lot of fear.

And then the election happened. And I wondered if there was more I could have done. Not to change minds but to show even one person they weren’t alone in their beliefs. To help one person realize that the “side” they railed against was filled with people like me (and I happen to think I’m kind of okay as a human being).

Here I am, after a potentially life-changing election, wondering what I can do to build a better future, to do my part, no matter how small it may be.

Part of me knows I need to find an organization to lend my abilities and talents to. Is that the local Democrats or is it an organization who’s mission I believe in? I don’t know.

Another part of me knows I can’t sit back and be silent anymore. I am a communicator. I write and I talk and I share my views, and when I do, some people (sometimes) listen. I don’t change minds but I connect with people, and those people feel less alone. There’s a reason people still read my personal blog from my divorce. Not because I had answers, but because they could relate to either my situation or my feelings. Either one is relevant. It was a connection. And I helped create that.

So how do I do this now?

I could write about what I think and feel, but I know a lot gets lost in translation. I’d much rather have a conversation so you can hear my tone and realize I’m a real person behind the opinions.

My thoughts right now are on a podcast. I’m a liberal girl who has lived in very conservative places almost my entire life. As a result, I’ve had to make the hard decision that my viewpoint was the one that was right for me – even as I felt societal pressures to conform to popular opinion.

I know what it’s like to feel like everyone around you “must” disagree with you, and I know what it’s like to hide your views for fear of judgement and retribution.

I also know that when people realize they are the majority, they start to live in a bubble and can’t imagine people they know see things differently. They think their news, their opinions are right. These majorities outshout the political minority that eventually goes silent out of self-preservation.

The problem is that silence is taken as acceptance and agreement. We start to think we’re the only ones who disagree, and we feel isolated. We think we can’t make a difference because there are so few of us in our neighborhood, our town, or our county – or our state and our country.

I don’t want to be silent anymore. I want my conservative friends who think liberals are all eating kale chips and taking yoga class in big cities are actually the working class people sitting next to you at work or your neighbor, struggling just as much as you are.

I want my liberal friends to know they don’t have to join secret Facebook groups in order to have a community. That we are always stronger together.

But I also want both sides to have conversations. Not to change each other’s minds but to grow in understanding of our fellow man, to find ways to live with one another, to find common ground. On certain issues, we will likely never agree, but where we do find bridges between us, we need to cross them and fight the political powers that seek to keep us divided.

We need to see each other not as red or blue, D or R, but as people. Yes, this country is messy and loud. There’s a lot to disagree about, I get it.

But I believe the vast majority of us can find some common ground somewhere.

And if my little voice with my specific outlook on life can connect like-minded people and help others see the “other side” as a little more human, I would consider that a huge success.

 

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Politics
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I’m Done Grieving; Let’s Get to Work

My candidate didn’t win. The results didn’t turn out like I’d wanted.

And yes, I grieved. Real tears were shed. Real sorrow was felt. Still is.

For those who may think I’m sad because my “team” lost or my emotions are about sour grapes, all I can say is no, that wasn’t it.

 

I could go into detail about what it is I voted for or against, but I think that gets us mired down again. You don’t have to understand what I was voting for or against. I know. My actions, who I am as a person, and what I believe will shine through if I live my truth. I don’t have to explain it to anyone.

I hope that I (and many others like me) are proven wrong about the very real fears we have and the speculation we’re forced to do in the absence of real information.

I will reserve judgement until we actually get to see something other than the promises that all politicians fill the airwaves with.

I will continue to respect the office of the Presidency, regardless who resides in the White House. The thing that’s been forgotten since…I don’t know, since I was a kid?…is that you can respect someone and not agree with them. You can respect their humanity and their role and not like what they do. Hate what they do, in fact.

That is my path. Respect and wary watchfulness.

The only thing I can control in this world is myself. How I treat other people. How I react in situations. What I do each and every day.

And at this point, with the election over, and the vitriol showing little sign of slowing down (I never believed November 9 would be a magical day when everyone calmed down), the thing I feel compelled to do is work for the future I want my children and your children and our grandchildren to have.

What does that work look like? I have no idea. I’m lost in a sea of too much information from everyone with an opinion and no direction.

But make no doubt about it, for me, the time to grieve is over.

Now it’s time to get to work.

It’s time to become more informed.

It’s time to use the voice I should have used all along. Yes, I am only one voice, but sometimes that’s enough.

It’s time to participate in the process more than every couple of years in the ballot box.

No more shying away from what others might think. Worrying someone will be ugly and rude is a waste of time. Fearing judgement from people who don’t really want to understand my views is pointless.

I’m not one for protesting in the streets or railing against the current system. Until it’s changed and until someone comes up with a better option, this is what we have.

But this is not who “we” are as America. We are better than the fear that has motivated people for years and years (long before President Obama was elected).

I remember the fear of liberals during President Bush’s years in office and the years of vitriol at the end of President Clinton’s presidency. This isn’t new, y’all. We simply have so much more access to each other, good information, and oh yes, bad information that we see it more often, and it feels more overwhelming.

President Obama said (and I’m paraphrasing) in one of his last campaign rally speeches, that when he bets on America, the American people, and for those of us who believe in hope and love, he always wins.

I want him (and us) to win in the way that I believe he meant.

I believe that we can be better than our fears make us. Our fear of “the other.” Our fear of change. Our fear of loss.

So I won’t fear the next four years.

I will work to help make my corner of the world and hopefully the rest of the world a better place, the country I believe my children (and all children) deserve. I will help protect the institutions that make us America – free speech, freedom of the press, freedom to protest. These are all of ours, even when you don’t agree, and more than our ability to vote, they make us who we are as Americans.

It’s time to stop crying, yelling, and railing at the people who disagreed with us and voted for something different.

It’s time to stop railing at the people who didn’t show up to vote.

It’s time to do something instead of bitching.

It’s time to stop grieving and get to work.

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