Ironically, my last blog entry was in August. Proud of our victorious American athletes, we basked in a post-Olympic glow, unified by cheering for Team USA. Now we stand divided, trying to heal the hurt of a nasty post-election hangover. Oh, what a difference a few months can make in America…
I have never considered myself “political.” I try my hardest to avoid politics and stay above the fray when it comes to all matters involving elephants or donkeys. My voting record is all over the map because I have never strictly identified myself with one particular political party. I voted Republican in my early years (I’m an Aggie, after all). My career in public education and my views on social issues have pushed me to the Liberal side in the last few elections. The one thing that I am the most proud of is that I do not know the channels for FOX NEWS or MSNBC on my television (seriously, not a clue). I form my own political opinions by reading actual newspapers, watching local and national news on various channels, and reading blogs and articles online while carefully considering the source. I then do something rather novel to some Americans—I THINK about all sides of an issue, and then I come to my own conclusion. Call me crazy. I’m a librarian.
Sadly, the election of 2012 sucked me into the political machine, and now I know more than ever why I despise politics; it can truly bring out the worst in us—if we let it, and honestly, there were times when I succumbed to the political monster during this election. I couldn’t help but pick a team (even though I know better), and my desire to see my team win sometimes clouded my thoughts and actions as a Christian. Unfortunately, I didn't always stay above the fray. I know I'm not alone in this confession, but that does not bring me any comfort.
For me, writing is thinking. When I need to think about an issue—I write. This blog started as a form of reflection on the books that I read, but it has evolved into a way to make sense of this sometimes senseless world. So this post is me trying to make peace with myself after the “Awful Election of 2012” (my own self-imposed term). Some of you think it's “awful” because you are unhappy about the outcome. I totally get that. It sucks when your team loses, and this is much bigger than a football game--the future of our country is SERIOUS business. Even though my team won, I consider this election “awful” because I loathe that it has polarized us even more. “How are we going to heal after all of the hurt? How in the world are we going to come together?” These thoughts echoed in my mind last night as I tried to drift off to sleep.
I am not going to defend my vote for President Obama. I don’t think I need to do that. As an educated voter, I made my choice, and I stand behind it. But I do want to clarify some misconceptions that are circulating out there in Cyberspace (my Facebook news feed proves that these misconceptions exist--on both sides):
- I voted for Obama (twice) and I am a Christian.
- I voted for Obama (twice) and I have a moral compass.
- I voted for Obama (twice) and I am college educated (three times over).
- I voted for Obama (twice) and I am NOT lazy.
- I voted for Obama (twice) and I have a career—not just a job.
- I voted for Obama (twice) and I pay taxes.
- I voted for Obama (twice) and I am not trying to “live off the government.”
- I voted for Obama (twice) and I am a proud American who does NOT want to see our country fail.
On the flip side of this:
- All Republicans are not greedy.
- All Republicans are not millionaires.
- All Republicans are not selfish.
- All Republicans are not closed-minded.
- All Republicans are not intolerant.
- All Republicans are not racist.
- All Republicans are not religious zealots.
- All Republicans do not think the poor should suffer.
Regardless of our political affiliation, we all have one thing in common: NO ONE WANTS AMERICA TO FAIL.
Please remember this: Every time you fire off some misconceived stereotype about the other side, you are only exposing your own ignorance. That’s the truth.
I know this much is true about Republicans because some of my favorite people in the world back the elephant. Most of my family and the majority of my friends voted Republican (I AM from Texas and we are a REEEED state), and I know that my Republican friends and family voted with their hearts and minds. I respect their opinions, and I don't question the love they feel for this country. I do not judge them; I love them. And I know that they feel the same way about me. The fact that we can agree to disagree on some political matters and move on in our relationship is one of the many things that makes this country amazing.
This is my prayer for our nation: Come together, work together, and MOVE ON.
So as we all emerge from this post-election haze of hatred and hurt feelings, let’s get our heads and hearts back about us. I speak to BOTH SIDES:
- Please turn OFF the channel that is fueling your negativity and fear.
- Go on a Facebook Fast before you go into a frenzy of firing off hurtful words and deleting life-long friends. Technology is a wonderful thing that can bring us together, but I think it is one of the main reasons we are so polarized as a nation. Social media makes it too easy to spout off an ill-informed opinion.It truly exposes our ignorance.
Look inward and then look at the world around you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you going to be part of the problem? Partisan politics, name-calling, stubbornness, and pride are what got us into this mess. Is a “don’t blame me, I voted for Romney” attitude really going to solve anything? Is gloating that Obama won really going to help?
- Are you going to be part of the solution? We need prayer and bipartisanship now more than ever. We don’t just need to reach across the aisle in Congress, but we need to do that with our friends and neighbors. It is hypocritical for us to expect our elected officials to do that when we can’t even extend that olive branch in our own lives.
- Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?