The 2016 election cycle stirred up a lot of emotions, the majority of which not positive. Many Americans are upset over the outcome, while others do not really see what the problem is. From this dissention, sharp words are lobbied, and, as a result, throwing rhetorical salt into an open wound. I, for one, am one that is still reeling over the results. However, as I try to heal and console myself, I see several things that pop up in social media and in the news that essentially rip open the figurative emotional scar. In an effort to help smooth things along, I am offering the top ten things that need to stop from BOTH sides.
- Any derogatory name for any group. I cannot believe in 2016 this actually has to be said. Nobody cares how many ethnic friends you have; nobody cares if you have a Cajun great-grandmother; nobody cares if you work with a Japanese man; nobody cares if you have a gay friend; and, most important, nobody cares how many times you heard a particular word in a song, YouTube video, or read it in meme. There is no reason to list them here because everyone knows what they are. Minorities to whom these words are directed to are extremely hurt. As much as this may enrage people, derogatory terms for people are not exercising your freedom of speech. You may feel emboldened to use them, but by doing so, you are degrading someone else. Many of these words are still painful and bring up feelings of subservience. Stop using them. Full stop.
- “Stop your whining!” It is not whining—a lot of us are expressing views on something taken personally. Doing so peacefully is fine; everyone has an opportunity state what he or she wants to. Just because it conflicts with what you think or feel does not mean that it is whining.
- “You’re being disrespectful.” Once protests damage and vandalize property, I agree. You are being disrespectful to someone else’s property. However, if a protest is peaceful and the only thing that is found “disrespectful” is the nature of the topic, then I disagree. For the last eight years, many people in various offices, positions, and economic statuses found it okay for President Barack Obama and his family to come under racially-motivated attacks. Memes that depicted them as monkeys, or eating watermelon, or flat out calling them the N-word. This was eight years worth of disrespect of the highest office in the nation. Yet, even though it was called such, it did not stop. That is disrespect.
- “I can’t wait until we send you back to your country!” How can you automatically look at someone and see him or her as an immigrant or illegal alien? Short answer: you cannot. Besides, the United States would go bankrupt if we all tried to find and send back every illegal immigrant. Additionally, are we just sending back those from Mexico and Latin America or are other people from the world? Do you not realize that if all these people go, many of the lower paying jobs would have to be raised to a higher wage, like produce, which means all sorts of items will go up in price.
- “I’m tired of people comparing Trump to Hitler.” As a historian myself, it is difficult to not see the similarities of Hitler rising to power and the increased amounts of xenophobia, racism, and misogyny of Trump. Hitler gained power and vilified a sub-sects of people to the point where an entire country was against them—locked them up, degraded them, wiped out entire populations because of his words. He and his supporters need to know that the power of their words can harbor terrible consequences.
- “You’re [blank]. You’ve must have voted for [blank].” Just like you cannot tell whose illegal and not, you cannot divine who voted what.
- In general – people being bold enough to attack people, verbally, psychologically, and physically. This behavior is atrocious. Have we become people who need to cut other people down to make themselves feel better? No one should have to fear going outside because of the potential of an attack.
- Not participating in active listening. Issues that are happening right now need a good deal of listening. Not just waiting for the other person to be quiet so you can state your opinion; actively listening implores both to be willing to understand where a person is coming from. Active listening also shows an extreme amount of respect—I am willing to let you talk unencumbered and listen to what you have to say.
- Trying to change someone’s mind. This may happen and it may not. Just because they do not agree with you does not mean they are against you.
- Not treating others as you would be treated. Would you want someone to interrupt you when you were making an impassioned statement? Would you want someone to come up to you and openly harass you? The answer, obviously is no. Do not infringe on someone’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness because, ultimately, you would not want the same done to you.
One sense missing in this country is empathy—not just being empathetic to people who think and look like you, but to everyone. It feels like America has broken off into factions, but this fissure can be healed, can be mended. We have to put in the work and actively bridge the gap.
As a side note to my Christian brothers and sisters out there, we should be demonstrating respect, empathy, and love nonstop. I repeat: NONSTOP. It should not matter if someone voted on the other side; we need to show that Christ’s love transcends all this political mess. It transcends everything. We HAVE to be the examples of hope, not of hate and exclusivity. Christians should not be participating in any type of hate-driven action, and using the Bible as their reasoning for doing so. Want to be “Not of this world?” Wonder “WWJD?” Want to do something that actually you are set apart from others of the world? Be Christ-like and rise above it. Even if you want to rant and rage against something, be slow to anger and slow to speak. Be quick to love. Be quick to defend. Be quick to protect. We can be the much-needed salve of this country, but we have to step out of the way and let Christ lead.
The aforementioned list is something I hope others will read and take to heart. This country will need to heal, but not if respect is offered and accepted from both sides. Belittling, threatening, making assumptions, being an all around jerk just allows us to continue spiraling down. Let us take a moment to lift each other up and give others the benefit of the doubt.
I hope and pray that this country will come together. I want this country – the one I have and always loved, my home and hearth—to heal from this. I want this fracture to fuse together and make us stronger. We can use this as a learning experience, if we allow it. I hope that future generations can look back on it with hopeful admiration.
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