Perspective in the Wake of the Election

Flag formed by children

Flag formed by children

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

Take a moment and let that soak in for a second. It’s a lesson that could not come at a more important time.

I woke up today feeling sad. And not just because of the outcome of the election, but because of the exhaustive hate that I found on social media. Hate spewing from all sides. This is not about who won, or who didn’t. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about all of us.

I don’t fear an America under a Donald Trump presidency. I fear the furthering of the divide that we’re already facing. And not because of anything that one man could single-handedly say or do (though he sure doesn’t help sometimes), but because of us. I fear the first shooting, the first riot, the first expression of hate that escalates beyond words.

Each one of us, each one of you, has an opinion. But your perspective isn’t everything. It’s urgent for us listen to one another. Truly listen and consider other’s opinions. It’s ok to disagree, but you can do it without degradation or bigotry. Please think before you spread hate.

I know people who are truly good at the core, kind and sound moral people, who voted both ways. We will be ok, but we must begin to accept that we are one. It’s up to us to drive change; we are America, not the President. We’re the ones on the front lines combating crime, supporting our communities, and shaping today’s youth. I want my future children to live in a world where they know nothing but acceptance. It’s up to us to take action and shape our nation.

Our individual experiences and thoughts drive our perspectives. What a simple concept, but one so easy to lose sight of. Without that fundamental understanding, where will we be? Surely not the America that was built on freedom. I urge you again, please be kind to one another. This is so important.

UPDATE: November 10, 2016

I wanted to update this post following several conversations I had yesterday. Part of my point was to listen to what others are saying and consider their perspectives, so that’s just what I’ve been doing.

I think it’s important for me to clarify a few things. I don’t believe for a second that people should keep their beliefs silenced, or subdue their individual voices for the sake of kindness. In fact, we must express frustration and anger when something we believe is being questioned; change will not make itself. We have the right and responsibility to stand up for what we believe through both voice and action. But every person in this country has that right, whether or not you agree with them. And that is the messy part.

Everyone’s experiences and backgrounds are different. Remember, we don’t see the world as it really is, we see it as we know it based on what we’ve been through, who we know, where and how we grew up…the list of factors that shapes us is infinite.

Since we’ve all experienced differences that have led us to our individual perspectives, of course there will be disagreements. And that’s healthy. It’s ok if you don’t like what someone has to say. You don’t have to agree or accept it. Tell them; stand up for yourself and what you believe. I guess my naive hope is just that you will be thoughtful of others in choosing your words, before saying something hateful and offensive. Spiteful rhetoric gets us nowhere.

And look, I get it. It’s hard to be kind to someone whose beliefs are totally opposite yours. In no way do I believe I am above that. I have a temper and beliefs too, and I will voice my opinion when I think someone has wronged me or is being a sexist asshole, for example. I’m not suggesting that everyone should be friendly and act like everything is ok when it’s not.

But, I guess all I’m saying is, before you engage in hate, I hope that you will take a second and think about the implications your words and actions will have on your neighbors, your friends, your children, and your communities. And I’m going to work on that too. Because, in the end, I think we’re all just striving to live the best lives we can as the best people we can be, whatever that means to each one of us.

{Image: Flag formed by children, 1910. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division}