Friday, January 27, 2017

We're in a Forest

Right now, there's no clear cut path. The political turmoil has everyone feeling unhinged, lodged in a dark, endless forest. We should be traveling this path together, guiding each other through while holding hands, but all I see is hatred, spreading on both sides of the fence.

Politically, I will disagree with Republicans on a lot of levels, but I am respectful and open to discussion. They have beliefs, as do I. I will not shun them for having beliefs, as different as they might be from my own.

I want to talk to people in person. I want to discuss things rationally. I want to keep our voices calm and have a meaningful, open, and honest conversation. I want to walk through the forest with you, not trample all over your ideas or thoughts.

In my social studies class in eleventh grade, I was the only liberal student. Whenever there was a political discussion, everyone turned to me for my "liberal" opinion. I never pretended to represent everyone. I don't. I am my own person with my own life experiences and opinions. That's the core of it. Everyone believes different things for different reasons.

One person does not represent all of us.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. - Abraham Lincoln
How are we supposed to be a united country when we aren't willing to have civilized discussions with each other? How are we supposed to know what our neighbors need to be successful when we are screaming on the internet? How are we supposed to represent each other, when we refuse to calmly explain ourselves?

I am not talking about posting about your opinions in the echo chamber of your social media groups. Social media is fantastic for finding like-minded people, but unfortunately, this creates a vacuum around you where anything that is the "other" can easily be muted, removed, or blocked. You (as well as I) are surrounded by people who are telling you you're right. There are two sides to every story. If we do not learn the story of the "other," we are committing them to be less respected and worse, less human. Which, in light of the way things have been going on the internet, has translated into name calling, hate speech, and other awful words.

Would you say what you're posting to someone's face? If so, fine. Keep saying it on the internet, because you are representing who you are. If not, then maybe you should press backspace. Maybe you should message the person directly when you are calmer. Maybe you should open a dialogue and say that you honestly want to talk about it. Reach out. Be friendly. Be respectful.

Life has brought us to various points in the forest, but in order for us to survive, we have to start making connections with each other. We cannot navigate this life alone. And I, personally, refuse to navigate the woods by myself, especially at night.

We are stronger together and that includes everyone.

I realize I'm saying this from the anonymity of the internet, using a faceless mask to get a point across, but this is one of love and not hatred. This is one of wanting real life connection and discussion. I invite anyone who knows me to have a conversation with me. I invite anyone who doesn't to connect with me so we can talk further.

More than anything, I invite everyone to walk with me. Travel this path with me and maybe we can all learn something. We're not so different. We want to protect our homes and our children. We want to protect ourselves and our beliefs. We want what is best and that shouldn't make us hate each other.