I’ve had a really hard time writing posts these last few months. It feels like every time I sit down to write something, nothing seems to come out. And when something does comes out, I feel like it completely ignores the scope of the political landscape we are experiencing right now.
I’ve written three posts about politics over the course of the last few weeks, and I’ve stalled on posting any of them. As a rule, I tend to keep politics and religion out of my writing, mostly because of how divisive they are. I find that as soon as either topic is introduced into any narrative – written or spoken – an imaginary line is drawn in the sand, and each party scurries to the side they most identify with. The conversation becomes guarded from there as each party seems to listen with the agendas of their side of the line, rather than from their open hearts.
Indeed what strikes me is that the very act of identifying with and declaring a particular political party or religion immediately separates us. You versus me. My views versus your views. And a lot of us will fight to the death in order to uphold and protect our views.
But this gets confusing, because nothing is black and white. Sometimes, we find ourselves agreeing with our own side, sure. But sometimes we find ourselves stuck in the middle, and other times we find ourselves downright agreeing with our opposition. Unfortunately, not many of us are willing to admit that, so we fight for our side, if for no other reason than because it is the side we have decided to identify with. Our dander is up, and we refuse to back down, because by gosh, eff you! Our opposing political parties state that you are different than I am, so I cannot comprehend any scenario in which we are the same, even though it is clear that you’re saying something that I completely agree with.
I bite my thumb at you anyway, sir. Because…because….we’re different. Period.
As you may have guessed, I did not vote for our current president. And I wish it were different. I really want to be proven wrong, but I’m not encouraged by his record thus far, mostly because what I’ve heard is a man talking from a place of hubris, fear, and hate, and not from one of unity, inclusiveness, and peace for all.
That is my opinion. Please do not attack me for it. And if you feel the need to do so, may I remind you that though we may be divided across party (and possibly religious lines), we are Americans first (well, I am a dual citizen, but I was naturalized just over a year ago, and while I live in this country, I stand by the laws that govern this nation). We pledge allegiance to the American flag, and united we stand. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with each other at every turn. In fact, that would be statistically impossible. My husband and I are of the same political party, but we still disagree about a lot of things. But what we have made certain of in our marriage is that when we fight, we fight from the same side of the line. We lead with our hearts, open wide, and genuinely strive to understand where each other is coming from. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree, but it’s never done with a trace of hate in our hearts.
That kind of disagreeing is what I believe we need now more than ever.
And so I say with love:
To those of you who lean more to the left – please don’t attack those who lean more toward the right. When you lead with hate, the possibility for peace disappears. Don’t belittle members of this new administration. We may not agree with their views, but we have to remember that they are human beings just like we are. They are Americans, just like we are. We all share a profound love of this country. When we speak out, right or left, we are all standing up for what we believe in. In order to unite, we have to focus on what makes us the same. We have to continue to use our voices to fight for what we believe in. But we have to do it peacefully and factually, not with physical violence and hateful comments that have nothing to do with the facts. Let’s stick to the facts. Sometimes they will lead you to agree with the right, and sometimes they won’t. That’s just the way it works.
To those of you who lean more toward the right – please don’t attack the left for using their voices to speak up for what they believe in, to speak up for those who don’t have a voice, to speak up when they see what they view as blatant violations of our beloved constitution and human rights. They are scared of what is happening right now. They see our democracy crumbling in place of a dictatorship that none of them feel represents them as Americans, or as citizens of the world. You may not see it that way, but they do. It keeps them up at night. It weighs on them. You equally have the right to speak out for what you believe in, and it is the duty as citizens of this country to give you the space to do the same.
To the media – listen to what John Stewart said on the Colbert Show the other night. We need you, there is no doubt. Practice good journalism. It’s difficult for anyone to form an opinion in this political and media landscape because the truth gets buried underneath so many opinions from so many different networks who interpret every word differently.
Indeed, the media should play an important role in reporting what is actually happening, and should never let their opinions cloud their factual reporting. But using misleading headlines and making empty assumptions devalues the good work that you do, and it only serves to bury the truth.
Without being swayed by the media, I can see for myself a president who contradicts himself with every new speech, so I really never know if or when he’s telling the truth, or if or when he’s even sure of the truth himself. It’s hard to see anything at face value, not because of the media (though admittedly, at times, they don’t help), but because – and this is terrifying – I never know when the leader of my country is telling the truth.
If you’re still reading, left or right or otherwise, please hear this:
No matter which way I may lean politically, no matter which God I may pray to, I don’t care whose name is on the door of the Oval Office, democrat, republican or otherwise: I will never support any practice that is inhumane, that casts others as less than, that tries to erode the very foundation of this country. As far as I remember (and if you’ll recall, I’m quite familiar with the Constitution having just recently been sworn in as a US citizen), this is a country that is inclusive of everyone and is better because of it. This is a country that celebrates us because we are different and doesn’t condemn us for it. I will never be ok with someone who talks down about women in one breath, and tries to defend himself as a crusader for their rights in another. I will never be ok with someone who claims to be a man of the people, but whose words and practices seem to demonstrate that he only wants to be a man of the people he deems worthy to lead, and casts all others out.
Make no mistake about it, if this were a democrat in office doing what this President is doing, I would feel just as strongly against it, and I would speak out just the same.
So there. I’ve broken my rule. I’ve talked about politics. But only because to not discuss it would be ignorant. It would ignore the elephant in the room. I worried that this post might alienate me from some of my readers and supporters. But in the end, I decided that was ok. Because what’s going on is too important not to discuss. We need to unite. Would it be easier to be neutral? Sure! As a Canadian, I’m way more comfortable declaring peace and love and not saying anything that might rock any boats. I would really like to be neutral, but to be silent in the face of what is happening would mean that I agree with it. And I don’t. I really don’t.
I want to live in a country whose people stand up for what is right, for what this country was built upon. You may not be a democrat, but if you voted, you must believe in the values of a democracy, and from what I’m seeing in this new administration, those very values are in danger.
No matter the side you are on, I’m begging you – let’s please have a meaningful conversation about our political views. Let’s help each other understand. Reach out to someone who is on the other side. Let’s find the ways that we are the same, let’s find common goals, and let’s work together from there. Because this divisiveness has to stop. It is like a poison that will inevitably lead to our demise.
Humbly and with love,
Photo credit: Flckr/MikeMozart