Congratulations, your candidate won. This election was long, hard fought and the people have spoken … well, roughly half of them. There still is a little less than half of the country that does not share your happiness. Revel in your election night glow, but this is by no means a time to gloat.
As a country, we must heal in order to grow. In order to grow, we cannot revel and engage in one-upmanship, regardless of how good it may feel to you or how much you feel it may be justified. Despite what Fox News and CNN may lead you to believe, we are one country. How can a family prosper if Dad is “winning” over Mom? It’s not about “winning or losing”. For this particular cycle, the Democratic philosophy prevailed by the slimmest of margins but it revealed a deep divide in our country that won’t heal just because “you won”.
I am an Independent because that works for me. I’ve never been one to feel the need to be a part of a particular “clique” in order to belong. That is not a slight to anyone, just how I’m made up. As an Independent, most of the time my views fall squarely in the middle of the two major parties. I just honestly don’t believe any one way is completely right or completely wrong. A lot of time, there is a gray area where reasonable men must find compromise in order to prosper and thrive. Alas, our current political system is driving a wedge between us and creating an “Us vs. Them” mentality that doesn’t help anyone.
I say all of that to say this: Not everything a Republican says is wrong. Not everyone that disagrees with Obama is a racist. And there is more than one way of doing things. For this country to grow, we must get beyond the emotional reactions (myself included) when we hear something we don’t like. We must have a healthy exchange of ideas in order to get to where we need to be as a country. You cannot have a healthy exchange of ideas with people that only agree with you! You must listen to alternative viewpoints and not always question its motives. Now, we know that some motives reek of an unspoken agenda. But as my mother used to say, you don’t have to act ignorant because someone else does. That, in itself, is ignorant. Must you respond to hateful rhetoric with more hateful rhetoric? What does that get us? You must show the respect that you expect to receive. The Bible teaches us to turn the other cheek. That doesn’t make you weak … reacting to nonsense and acting accordingly is the easiest and weakest form of action there is. It takes a strong person to love the people that you disagree with.
There are also some viewpoints that need to be heard and some truths that must be accepted regardless of who points them out to us. While a lot of social programs may have earnest beginnings and intentions, we cannot ignore the fact that there are those amongst us that abuse our goodwill. My job has shown me that there are those that don’t have the drive and ethics that were instilled in most of my friends and family. The folks that point that out have a point! We cannot, in good consciousness, continue to let those among us that don’t want to work, that don’t want to contribute to our society, that expect the rest of us to take care of them to continue to drag our country down. They drain our resources and help throw our country into debt. That is real! That is also not exclusive to race or gender. There are lazy, blood-sucking people of all races, genders, religions and orientations. I would contend that if you feel you must have an enemy, THEY are your enemy, not Republicans. But when good people sit back and allow these things to continue, we are co-signing that behavior whether we chose to admit that we are or not.
I voted for Obama but I did not feel the happiness I thought I’d feel. All I felt was morose, a sense of dread. Not sad about the outcome of the election but sad that regardless of the outcome, our Country is still going to be that much more divided. This is not “magically” fixed. We cannot expect that one day we will wake up and all of a sudden everyone gets along. There has to be a conscious effort. And that is why I am penning this letter to you, my Liberal friends.
I still will have my views on certain issues that you may see in the future on my Facebook page from time to time. But the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, and this is mine. I am going to make an effort on my part to be a part of the solution, not contribute to the problem. For me, that means engaging divergent views in my own way and loving those that don’t agree with me even more. Men and Women, Republican and Democrats, straight or gay, Black, white, Latino or Asian … we ultimately all want the same thing — opportunities for ourselves and our kids, the pursuit of a happy existence and for our voices to be heard and matter. We all benefit from a strong America. But to get there, give the respect you expect. Engage someone that doesn’t agree with you. Be open to the fact that maybe everything, as you know it, may not be right for you or the country.
Lastly, let’s talk: rationally, intelligently and with love and respect for our fellow man. You can’t complain about someone else’s ignorance when you are acting just as ignorant. At the end of the day, we are all Americans and we shouldn’t have to wait for a tragedy like 9/11 to bring us together. If we, as a nation, are as smart as we think we are, let’s all start acting like it.
Stephen E. Terry,
Taylors, South Carolina