Many times when I visit her, my mother likes to start ranting about her feelings about politics and the generations of people after her own. She is of the baby boomer generation, and, of course, is also a child of two of members of greatest generation (those who endured World War II).
Some of her most repeated gripes include the level of stamina between generations. She feels the greatest generation was the strongest generation we ever had; in work ethics, in principals and in morality. Her generation, she believes is strong as well, but not as strong as her parents.
And then, there are the Gen-Xers, the millennials and the other generations that followed. In her mind, we all have significant weaknesses, specifically when it comes to ethics and when we need to put in a hard day’s work. She gets mad when I speak about the work that my husband and I do, how we don’t depend on anyone else but ourselves and haven’t for a very long time. She also gets very mad when I talk about how there are a lot of very good people in this world – my age and younger – that happen to work harder and longer than I ever would. Some of these people have done significant things to change the world.
My father tries to chime in too; but only to throw a more judgmental spin on things. He believes everyone from California are just too liberal for their own good, and that there is such a thing called reverse racism.
My parents are role models to me, but not for the reason you think. They are role models for me to learn what NOT to become. But thanks to this election, I almost got there anyway.
All the way through the primary, I was one of those people who were posting about how one candidate is bad for the country. I was posting about the concerns of racism, the bigotry, the narcissism, and on and on. I became polarized on this candidate and his supporters. I focused on how horrible things would be if this person was elected, and expected everyone else to see what it was that I saw.
This polarization made me miss something else entirely. I missed the fact that people are scared. They are genuinely afraid of how things were going, afraid of the change that the past 8 years has brought, and fueled by that fear, they came out in mass to vote.
Now yes, many people are going to pour over the data of this past election for years to come, many much smarter than I, and give other reasons why my candidate didn’t win. But no matter what they say, however many years from now, they won’t remember the underlying fear that was carried in the hearts of Americans through this entire process. They won’t remember the media that fueled that fear, the memes on Facebook and other social media. The polarization, the ‘what ifs’, and everything else that went along with it.
Now I see one way my parents could get so carried away into their judgement and hate. And now I’m doubly determined not to do the same.
I’m going to make more changes now so that I don’t become polarized again. I’m putting filters in place on my social media sites, and am going to strictly limit my news intake from now on. I’m going to do my best to check all sources as I go. And most of all, I’m going to try to remember that we are all human first.
I’m not going to give up hope that people can still be helped, love can still win, and that we are all striving to be better.
I’m not going to give up hope that we are all doing the best we have with what we are given.
And I’m not going to give up hope on my country.
Don’t get me wrong, when I see bullying or actions against others I’m still going to call it out. That is my duty now more than ever. I still have to do what I feel is right. But now, I have to consider other actions. Those actions might be donating what I can to more organizations, volunteering my time, saying prayers, doing ritual and just doing more to carefully consider someone else’s opinion.
Now more than ever, we need to unite with each other, our community and try to step forward as a whole.
Photo from Deviant Art