Finding a Space for Conversation

Dear America,

How did we become so divided?

We started out 236 years ago as a group of people looking for new beginnings. 

We wanted the freedom to practice our own religions, the ability to have our voices heard in government. 

(It is to be noted that we fought for those things at the expense of the rights of America’s indigenous people).

Since then, our country has warred within itself. We have fought for the basic right of all humans within our country to be their own master. We have fought each other over whether having darker skin should exclude you from voting. We have fought over whether women should have a say in the political machinations of our country. Recently, we fought over whether people should be allowed to marry the ones they love—regardless of whether they are men and men or women and women. 

From my perspective, those battles were won. The right side triumphed, progress rolled forward. 

Yesterday, every American’s voice counted—regardless of their skin color, their religious beliefs, their sex, their sexual attractions. To me, that is a victory, regardless of who won. 

But I need to know: When we made those decisions—when the majority demanded equality and our justice system followed suit—were there people who felt alienated? Who honestly believed that evil was winning? 

If so, where did that feeling come from? Where did they see the evil in giving people different from them rights? 

Explain it to me, because I honestly don’t understand. 

Yesterday’s election was a political race. But it was held on moral grounds. 

If you morally felt compelled to elect Donald Trump—a man who has over and over again proven himself to be racist and misogynistic and antagonistic toward anyone who disagrees with him—to lead our country, I want to know why. I want to know how, in the basic essence of what you believe to be true, to be just, to be good, you believe he will work toward accomplishing those moral truths.

(Note: I don’t want to hear about why you chose him over Clinton. Take her out of the equation for a moment).

I want to know these things so that we can begin to understand each other.

Each time I scroll through Facebook, I see dialogue between Trump-supporters and Trump-haters that goes in circles. In each instance, those discussions revolve around things like deleted emails and lies and the political hubbub that comes with every election. 

But I want to cut beneath that. I don’t want to talk about emails and lies and scandals. I want to talk about the beliefs that shape us as people. The things that ultimately guide how we choose a candidate to represent us.  

Within our core moral beliefs, are we different? Or are we just seeing the world through different lenses—reading the same signs, but interpreting them differently? 

Here are my beliefs—stripped bare of politics and cut to their core. 

I believe that it is just to fight bullies and to protect the weak. 

I believe that honesty is important.

I believe our political system should be transparent.

I believe that every person is equally deserving protection and acceptance, regardless of how they look or worship or love. 

I believe that love and kindness are more important than money. 

I believe that rationality and humbleness are important characteristics in a leader. 

I believe that we all deserve to seek happiness and prosperity equally.

I believe we should take care of each other–in hard times and in easy ones.

How do yours line up? 

Once we’ve established how, at our cores, we are the same and different, then we can start to talk about a way forward that includes everyone. 

-Sarah 

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Chara, proof reading this post for me.

 

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