We were all squished together, in a booth at Chili’s. Where as, a week or two before, such close proximity may have felt uncomfortable, on this day it did not. On this particular day we were scared. Our friends to the left had been trying to have a baby for a few months. It was there that they confessed to how glad they were that they had not conceived and quietly agreed they would never have a child now. Across the booth were friends with a newborn. A Newborn whom they loved but sobbed actual tears over the terror ridden world we now lived in. The date was September 15, 2001.
Those things, the fears and feelings, they were real. Real and relevant. Beyond us, our conversations and our choosing to feel them though, they meant nothing. It was not a fear that brought about progress or healing in communities, but rather stepping into a community with those around us. Yes, it took a long time. It has been a long journey and we aren’t there yet, but we are better than those who were so crippled with terror. It was choosing to love others, work together and be that walked us all through a horrible recession, (which many argue isn’t quite over yet.) Our friend’s baby has grown into a beautiful young woman and our childless friends did go on to have two great kids. Fears subside. At that dinner, at Chili’s, we all imagined a world more like those existing in Post Apocalyptic movies than the world we have now. This America of iPhones, an abundance of Marvel movies, TV on demand (and at our fingertips, to boot) and a black president- this America was unfathomable.
And what about our president? 8 years ago my 9-year-old was so terrified of the election results. It was not from us, but from everyone so consumed with discussing the Anti-Christ known as Obama, with his illegal birth certificate, middle eastern ties and blah, blah, blah. We were leaving a friend’s house when we heard the election results on the radio. My NINE YEAR OLD slipped into a unconsolable blob in the back seat. She wanted to be married someday, and go to high school… She wanted all things 9-year-old girls dream of and she had to face that life was over and the world had ended.
And yet… Here we are.
The world is imperfect. It is an imperfect globe filled with imperfect people. I have kids not of my womb whom I have failed hundreds upon hundreds of times. I have woken up and wondered why I was a mother at all, some days. On those days I have questioned if they would’ve been better off without me. Does that mean that I should be crucified on social media daily, with my faults spotlighted for everyone to obsess over, (you know, instead of looking inwardly at their own character)? No. Don & Hillary are both people too. They each have really wonderful things they’ve done, really terrible things they’ve done and a whole lot of both that they have lied about.
Voting is important, because if we don’t then we forfeit the right to have a voice. Tomorrow we will wake up and life will look the same. It will feel the same. And the changes we are hoping to see for our country will still be up to us more so than the elected officials. How so? We get all bent out of shape because our gun rights are at risk. Guess what? Our gun rights are at risk BECAUSE OF US. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. True. But what people kill people? People without accountability, without community and with access to an entire underground market available to anyone ethicless enough to partake in it. 40, 50, 100, 200 years ago this was not the case. We need laws because we behave like we need laws.
I am a mother. I can hand my child trust and age appropriate freedom, but when he does something that breaks the first, he jeopardizes the second and suddenly rules are a little stricter. Happens again, the results happen again too. When a leader has millions of faceless people to work for, they will end up doing their job by statistics. Recently there was a little social media thing about the worst 10 towns to live in, in Idaho. Defensiveness happened because these said “bad towns” are beloved by many. Bingo! Beloved by people who know them. The people who love them and live their lives in them. The person who made the list was just doing his job. A Leader has no choice but to work on statistics, as they cannot possibly get to know each and every one of us in a way which would enable them to do their jobs better. We, the people do have choices. Be the community. Embrace our businesses, our youth, our other citizens regardless of whether we agree or not. It doesn’t matter whether our viewpoints all mesh well or not. Views and beliefs don’t play together on the playground, WE DO. It is up to us to behave. I grow so weary of religious people characterizing others by their race, religion or sexual orientation. Guess what, NONE OF THAT IS CONTAGIOUS.
We have to stop being afraid. Selling a wedding cake to someone who is different will only make you look kind. Thinking your opinion (or the truth you feel you know) is the only relevant one will make you look cruel. It truly is that simple. No one ever hung themselves because someone was nice to them, even though they were _______. The same can not be true of the latter’s words. Loving kindness prevails, always.
The outcome of today’s election may not be what you feel is best- but it is what someone else thought. Be respectful and move on. Be authentic and love others. The other people around the world who hate America don’t hate us because of our leaders. They hate us because of Americans. We are greedy, arrogant, narrow-minded and petty. We are a joke to many other countries and it is up to us to earn a better reputation. No president in the world could ever change that, but we can. Today I elect us, Americans, to be the heart of America. To listen without interrupting, or thinking we are superior. To embrace without condition of what’s in it for us.
If Americans began behaving like we expect our leaders to, we WOULD have less violence, less addiction, less homelessness, less abuse and less need for big government. My one voice may not make a bit of difference in this election, but it makes all of the difference within my community, and that can trickle and trickle until one day we look back and say “Wow, remember that year that ________ became president and the world kept turning after we were all so sure it would stop? That’s when we decided to take responsibility for our country, our mouths and our actions and I am so glad we did.”