Democrat without a home
As a lifelong Democrat and liberal but one that felt discarded by my own party (I was a Bernie supporter this cycle) I found myself reassessing my values, my party loyalty, and my stance this election. With no confidence in either major party candidate, I found myself suddenly an outsider and I think it was good for me. I think a lot more people could benefit from stepping outside of their party’s hard lines. It made me look beyond the rhetoric and to search for the underlying truths, the humanity beneath the issues. For that experience, I am deeply grateful.
It also made me see just exactly what liberal condescension feels like when it’s pointed at you. I’d already, many, many times before felt the searing sting of conservative ire when it rained down upon me but I never had a REAL understanding of just how infuriating it can be to be talked down to by a just-do-what-I-know-is-good-for-you liberal. In refusing to get in line behind Hillary and vote for a candidate and platform I didn’t believe in, I inadvertently provoked that knee-jerk, I-know-better-than-you liberal response from both people I know and love, as well as well-meaning pundits in the liberal media. It was, to put it mildly, eye-opening.
Now, I have liberal friends doubling down on anger, fear, and isolation and that is heartbreaking to me, so I want to say something and it is what I have been trying to say over and over again in different ways both during and post this divisive election. I want to say this to all of you who are so desperately disheartened and I hope that you will receive this as I intend it, not as a criticism but rather as a sharing of my hard-won perspective. I am watching so many liberals take to the streets to protest, signing petitions in an effort to usurp the will of the people with the hope of electoral college loopholes, digging in their heels for a war of Us against Them, wrapping ourselves in a kind of suffocating fear that will only grow the kind of negative power in our world that we all say we don’t want and I can only think, “What if it were conservatives doing all of this? What would we be saying, feeling, thinking?” FEAR only ever feeds negativity and it is this FEAR that has delivered us all to where we are now.
An antidote to FEAR
I want you to know that I absolutely will NOT be unfriending anyone on my platforms or in real life for their respectful political beliefs — you are welcome on my page no matter how you voted and you are welcome to discuss your perspective respectfully with others on my page and in this comments section. This is the same policy I always have and that I tried to maintain throughout the political season. I will still protect ALL my friends’ right to free speech and opinion on my pages regardless of whether or not I agree with their opinions, while still rejecting any straight out mean-spirited attacks. I will still stand up and use my voice against injustice or inequality wherever and whenever necessary (as I always have) but I won’t participate in an, “Us” against “Them,” narrative. As always, I welcome open and respectful debate.
Instead of shutting people out, I will be taking the time to really listen to those who think/feel/act differently than me, to dig down to what the real fears and issues are. I will encourage an open dialogue on my page and in the world and I will try my best to share my point of view in a way, that hopefully, makes folks feel comfortable enough to receive my truth, just as I receive theirs. It is through conversations like these, that I believe we can bridge the gap and shift the hearts and minds of those who think or feel differently than ourselves, without being condescending and without telling people what to think, or telling them that they are wrong or hateful or stupid. Because I just don’t believe that we are really THAT fundamentally different. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think this election and its results are about all the FEAR and the -isms everyone has been selling us — I think those were/are the scapegoats that have been sold to all of us to create this toxic mess.
The system is broken — Ditch FEAR, Be KIND
For us to all get clear, we have to instead see this election and its results for what they are, as an indicator of a system that isn’t working for ANY of us — the only difference between us is the different stories that have been sold to us as to how we should view what the root cause of our troubles is and what the solutions to those problems should be.
One more thing, people feeling separate and fearful and angry on both sides are not crazy or being babies. There are very real forces at work here, forces that benefit by keeping us all apart, split by the dividing lines of rural versus urban, black versus white, woman versus man, gay versus straight, cis versus trans, liberal versus conservative, etc.
Which, in the end, means we’re all in the same boat. So let’s just all start with being KIND to one another. By respectfully listening and sharing. I know I will be working hard this year to keep those I love safe by trying to share my perspective with the hearts and minds of those who don’t see things as I do and by growing myself in trying to see a perspective that is not my own. This is the way I choose to help, by reflecting the values I hold most dear in the world.
I hope that others will join me.