The day is here, everyone! The day where the campaign ads finally end as we await the results with bated breath. I’m. So. Happy. It’s. Over.
You see, throughout this election, there’s been a stupid amount of hate. I personally have been called an asshole for not voting for the same candidate as someone. I’ve also listened as an older white man (not Trump) described how other races and religions were ruining “his” country. These are just personal experiences of mine- they don’t even touch upon the things I’ve heard about secondhand or seen on the media.
I just don’t get it.
America was founded by illegal immigrants from Europe. At first, America (which, when you think about it, is simply a piece of land marked by imaginary, man-made borders) was a safe haven for those wishing to escape religious persecution. As time went on, America continued to market itself as a dream and attracted many people from around the world, who came here and had children and it led to the beautiful, diverse nation we have today.
What I don’t understand is how we lost sight of the beauty of diversity.
The divide is especially apparent during election years, as if who you vote for somehow determines who you are. In this election with two extreme candidates, I suppose it’s easy to perceive a vote for one or the other as a marker of personality, but in my opinion, it doesn’t mark against worthiness. No matter who your friends or family voted for, you can rest assured that they had their reasons.
The asshole comment struck me. I didn’t realize this individual felt so strongly about their opinion that they were literally angry that people didn’t agree. No one is better than anyone else. Period. And I think that’s something we need to keep in mind moving on from today’s results.
There’s such a strong feeling of “us vs. them” in this country that we need to remember what’s really important. One nation. Under whoever-you-care-to-pray-to-if-anyone-at-all. Indivisible.
After tonight, one candidate will be our future president. We will have survived another 18 months of name-calling, mudslinging, negativity, and all-around bad vibes that brought us down. Looking ahead to the next four years, no matter who is elected, we don’t really know how it’s going to go. Which is why it’s so important to be loving, kind people, no matter what.
After today’s election, I challenge you to love anyway. No matter who wins. Love thy neighbor, even if thy neighbor voted for someone else, is an immigrant, is gay, worships a different God, owns guns, doesn’t own guns, had an abortion… whatever. It doesn’t matter as much as genuine human kindness and connection.
This may be easier said than done for some people. Differences are scary. Learning other perspectives and learning about other people’s opinions and experiences might mean you’re wrong- and that’s too much for some people. Some people can’t stand to think that their way of life might not be best. But believe me when I say it’s the only way we can grow.
In my life, race is a perfect example of this.
I was raised in the 90s, the time in history where “color doesn’t matter” was preached. And I believed that for a long time. I believed that if you just ignored race, it wouldn’t be an issue anymore. We could all get along if we just pretended there were no differences between us. Raised in a predominantly white town, this perspective of mine was reinforced and reinforced again.
But that’s not good! That’s no way to learn! When I went to college and chose my sociology major I was finally opened up to a world of, well, openness. Listening to and learning from people of different races allowed me to see the world from a new perspective. It allowed me to grow. It allowed me to realize problems in our society that I was once unaware existed.
If we don’t embrace these other voices and perspectives, how are we ever going to learn?
The point is, one person’s narrative is never the only one. One person’s reasons for voting, say, for Hillary may be completely different than someone else’s reasons for voting for her. Even if you’re someone who cannot, for the life of you, understand why someone would vote Trump, challenge yourself to a discussion with someone who is and keep an open mind. And if you can’t tolerate listening anymore, agree to disagree and walk away. There is no need for anger and resentment moving on from today.
In an ideal world everyone would treat each other with kindness and respect. There’s no reason why you can’t start that trend in your own life, today, right now, no matter who you want in the White House.