The moment you insult your fellow citizen, your fellow human being,
is the moment you silence yourself.
We all do it. We insult each other. We disrespect each other. We do not value each other.
I’ve done it. The events leading up to the 2016 election made me more angry than I can ever remember being, on almost a daily basis. I was so blinded by anger and fear and sometimes hatred that I could hardly have a rational argument. Let alone, one in which I would actually listen to the other side. I was guilty of being fueled by headlines, sharing news on Facebook and completely jumping to conclusions. I’m pretty certain we are all guilty of these things.
The saddest part for me has been reading the comments in the Facebook threads. The insults. The hate. The blame. It not only made me sad, but angry. Most of the comments and conversations were fueled by hatred for the people from the opposing party. Most of the arguments involved name calling with not much substance to back up WHY they believed what they believed. Why? Maybe everyone seems to be so attached to their party, that they’re willing to excuse behaviors affiliated with it. A lot of this had to do with, I imagine, the lack of choices. If you don’t have good choices, of course you are going to side with the party you are in general agreement with. I get it. But we need more REAL options than this 2 party system has offered. We are a melting pot, and to lump us into two categories makes no logical sense.
What baffles me, is that we don’t try to change this. I do not EVER want to say, I’m a Republican or I’m a Democrat. Because, I’m not. I refuse to be attached to a party in which my morals are compromised because I am so loyal to it. I’m a human being. An American citizen. I want the best for the PEOPLE in this country. I want the best for HUMANITY.
I digress… Most of what I want to say is in reference to our respect and compassion for each other. Or, perhaps, lack there of. I've noticed, some people are getting upset that everyone has to be so politically correct. Asking, why you can't just speak your mind without someone being offended? It saddens me, because I feel that you can always speak your mind without devaluing someone. We are all capable of making our point in a way that doesn’t insult someone, but shows dignity and respect. And why shouldn’t we respect our fellow citizen? Our fellow human being?
Don’t we all want to live a happy and healthy life in which we have everything we need?
Don’t we all want to avoid a financial struggle?
Don’t we all want equal opportunities?
Don’t we all want to be valued and respected?
Don’t we all go on the defense when we are called names?
It is impossible to have a rational conversation when you have been devalued. You can’t get your point across when you’re insulting someone, and they can’t get their point across when you’ve been insulted. So I ask all of you, if you have a point to make, do it with kindness. Talk to your neighbor and figure out how the opposing side thinks. Why have they come to that conclusion? Do either of you REALLY have the facts? Why ARE you on opposing sides? Maybe you really aren’t… Have a real conversation with an OPEN MIND and a kind heart.
Lately, news has been popping up, and out of nowhere, I was no longer angry when an issue arose that did not align with my values. My immediate reaction was not to protest or get angry, but to research. I think, what do people from opposing sides think? What do the local people think that are truly affected? What is really happening with this change and how will it affect the locals, businesses, the economy, the state and the country?
As we all know, “Fake News” is the new hip thing to say and blame. And in certain cases, rightfully so. But how do we find honest sources? How do we know what is real? Digging deep takes time and energy. I find that reading news from all sides is a good way to figure things out. The only thing I know for sure...opinion pieces ARE NOT NEWS. They are NOT FACTS. Please don’t just find a headline or an article you agree with and believe it to be true.
I’m sure there are specific things we all think we know and understand. But do we understand these topics enough to actually have an opinion? There were times when I would be having a conversation with my husband, I would say something and then think...is that the truth or is it just something I’ve heard or been told and now I believe it to be a fact? Taxes, healthcare, the economy in general, these are complicated topics I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand, no matter how much research I do. Because, I simply don’t have the education, I was educated, but not on economics. To fully understand something that is so complicated is a bit rare. Being involved in those subjects because of your work, and having studied what as happened historically would give you a great base knowledge to form an opinion.
I simply ask you to have some humility. None of us are all-knowing.
It’s ok not to have an opinion on a topic you don’t fully understand.
It’s ok to debate with someone with different opinions.
It’s ok not to know the answer.
It’s ok to agree with someone whom you don’t usually agree with.
It’s ok to not agree and move on.
It’s ok to be wrong.
It’s ok to admit you’re wrong.
It’s ok to be embarrassed to find out you were wrong.
It’s ok to change your opinion as you learn.
It’s ok to not agree with your party.
It’s ok to hold someone accountable for their actions.
When I went to college and started to form my own opinions, I began doing my own research and asked a million questions. That is when the trouble started for me. I usually had different opinions from my closest family members that I loved and admired so dearly. There were many times in in my younger years when I was ready for a debate, a conversation, so I could learn. I wasn’t treated very nicely for challenging them. I was told I was too young, too naive, I just wasn’t credible because I hadn’t lived long enough, I just didn’t understand. It was an eye opener. This is when I realized, you don’t talk about politics or religion. A sad day indeed. How else can we learn and grow if we don’t talk to each other? Yes, my family members were older, had more life experiences and of course lots of reasons why they believed what they believed and I respect that. But unfortunately, my opinion usually wasn’t valued. And, I wasn't trying to debate to be RIGHT, I wanted to debate to LEARN. Being valued for talking through things you can't always understand is one of the most productive learning experiences in life. No one has to be RIGHT. Just having that conversation and being taken seriously would have empowered me to keep asking questions. In my experience, one of the most beautiful things in life, is having conversations with people who believe differently and are of a different generation. You never know what you will learn from someone 20 years older or younger or living a completely different life from yours.
I’ve learned that as I grow, I am of course, more opinionated, as I think we all are. There are certain things I know I probably won’t change my mind about. And sometimes I have to tell myself that I need to keep an open mind, and not settle on an opinion. I hope I can maintain this! To be set in my ways would be counter productive. It doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t stop learning after school ends. The world is constantly learning, changing and evolving. Shouldn’t we do the same?
So, I wanted to write this, not only to reach out to my family, friends and peers, but to get it off my chest.
I’ve been silent about a lot of things lately because my opinions differ from people I love.
I’ve been silent because I don’t want to damage my relationships with those people.
I’ve been silent because I don’t want to jeopardize my business.
I’ve been silent because I’m scared.
I’ve been silent because I don’t always know the facts.
I’ve been silent because I’m tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of that nervous knot in my stomach. Tired of the hate. Tired of being devalued for my opinion.
I no longer want to be silent.
I’ve learned so much, just in the past 2 years. I’ve grown and am starting to step back and observe, rather than getting caught up in the argument that will just remain an argument because everyone is insulting each other. This is a big deal for me, because I’m a fighter. I always have been. I will scream until I’m blue in the face to fight for what is right.
But I’m not going to scream anymore.
I’m going to do better.
I’m going to try to forgive people that demean and devalue human beings.
I’m going to try to see through my fellow citizen’s eyes and understand why they have their beliefs.
I’m going to fight for what I believe is morally right.
I’m going to do better.
I’m going to do better, even if you don’t try to do better.
I’m going to value your opinion, even if you don’t value mine.
I’m going to fight for my fellow citizens, even if they don’t fight for me.
I’m going to love you, even if you don’t love me.
I challenge all of you to approach 2018 with kindness and love for your neighbors.
I challenge you to LISTEN. Not to just listen to respond, so you can voice your opinion.
I challenge all of us to work together so everyone can enjoy a happy, healthy life.
I challenge you to be a better neighbor and to have empathy.
I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone with an open mind.
I challenge all of us to be better people.
Happy New Year!