I have never been “into” politics. It is not a sport to me. I never felt incredibly passionate about one party or the other. In fact, I silently resented the predominantly two party system of the U.S., feeling societal pressure to pick sides when I have always felt it is so much more complex than that.
This time around, I started following along back in the spring and summer when it became apparent that there was a real problem. It’s not the fact that Trump ran as a republican. If it weren’t for Trump exposing his true character throughout his campaign, I would have probably gone along not really getting too involved like usual. Mostly because it all always seemed too complex and confrontational to get mixed up in.
I have been WAY too passive my entire life, allowing myself (or others who weren’t there to defend themselves) to be bullied in all kinds of situations. Last night as the results were becoming more and more real, I tossed and turned in bed reliving all the moments of my life that comments about Hispanics, gay people, and other traditional minority groups in this country have been hurtled at me. And I did nothing.
Most of the time I literally said nothing, hoping desperately for a subject change just so I could get out of such an uncomfortable moment. I feel shame that I haven’t been more of an activist and advocate in my life for human rights.
These comments came from people who are my family members and friends. I love them for many reasons. I am seeing more and more that my political views and humanitarian views don’t exactly coincide with those of (I’m betting) the majority of the people I know. I’ve always kind of known this, but again, I didn’t want to get too involved or confrontational. I didn’t think the discomfort was worth it.
I now see, crystal clear, that it is not only worth it to speak up but it is critical. It is critical to continue to love the people who, one by one, voted this person into the presidential office. To be a voice.
I felt a knee-jerk response to unfriend a person on Facebook who made an uneducated comment about the outcome of the election, belittling those who are rightfully astounded as “babies”. There will be many more like that, and I was reminded that to start unfriending people based on their differing political views would only be to create a further divide. To go backwards even further.
I have not been a perfect person. Like all of us, I have made unkind, judgmental remarks about others and even about groups of people who are not like me.
I now see it as my human obligation to be very aware of both what I say and hear, and my response to the things that I hear and see. I feel called to do better in my own life. This was a major wake-up call.
Whether a person is a Christian, Muslim, gay, or drives a Prius: they are human. And deserve to be treated with respect. To not be made fun of or ridiculed for their choices. I am going to do better at upholding that in my own life. I truly believe that it starts at the individual level.
Today I see how critical it is that I step up and really examine the conversations that are happening. Not just on Fox News, or CNN, or even YouTube news. In our own lives. In our families. In our cars. In our homes. At our dinner tables. Between friends.
To me this isn’t even about politics and which party won or lost. It is about being a human being with compassion. It is about standing up for what is right, and softening hearts.
The first thing I wanted to do this morning was change my “about page” on this site. It had a lot of passive, almost apologetic, language that I crafted through my fear of being ridiculed for wanting to make the world a better place. Ha! No more apologizing for what I believe in. That is my truth today for sure.
Today I vow to stop being bullied or going along with conversational bullying of groups of people who aren’t in the room. To educate myself about the issues, and even when I don’t feel smart enough, to speak up when something is said that feels “off”.
I know I have to do something. I can’t change our political system, and I may never influence one person to change their long-held views that don’t sit well with my soul. But I feel that I must try. I must do my best. And if enough people try and do their best, who knows. Perhaps we will one day see real positive change.