Well here we are. We’ve made it through the worst mud-slinging, hate-filled presidential campaign in the history of our country. Some of us are celebrating and some of us are despondent. What am I? I’m resigned. But I was destined to be that in light of either candidate’s victory.
Our country has become so polarized and dependent on labels, it makes me sick. “I’m a liberal! I’m a conservative!” we passionately declare. But when you ask people what this means, what’s the nitty gritty of their belief structure, they’re hard-pressed to tell you beyond their party lines; guns, taxes, gay marriage and right to life; the never ending buzz words of politics. And yes, these are important topics that must be addressed, but they aren’t the only things that make the world go round. There are little things like courtesy, respect and common decency that seem to have gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Lest you think I can’t possibly be talking about your party, I beg to differ. As a proud Independent, my inbox was full of missives from both sides pleading with me to believe that the other guy/gal is the devil incarnate. These correspondences oozed hate and spewed accusations like angry geysers.
In my Utopian world, political emails would be respectful and on point. They would politely state:
As a concerned and dedicated American I would like the opportunity to lead our country in the uncertain waters that lie ahead. Here’s what I want to do and how I plan to do it (and then they would actually give you an idea about what they’re about.) I humbly ask for your support.”
Instead, I received hate mongering communiqués that solely focused attention on the sins of the opponent. They were riddled with childish name calling and mudslinging, very reminiscent of junior high school bullies. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you’re saying. “What do you suggest we do to solve the problem?”
First off I think we need to realize our governmental deficiencies have been generations in the making. We’re not going to change the status quo overnight. A lack of moral and upstanding candidates running for higher office is our doing. We’ve made the political arena a danger zone for good guys. Most decent folks fear throwing their hat in the ring because no part of their lives would remain their own. Their families would be scrutinized and raked over the burning hot coals of our witch hunting society. Why would they do that to themselves and their loved ones?
So where does this leave us and what should we do to change things? Sadly, it leaves us in a very divisive world where fear and animosity rule the day. I say we stop it. Let’s just stop hating each other. Let’s stop feeling superior to others whose ideology doesn’t jibe with our own. Here’s how we’ll do it.
First, find someone that physically sends out a message very different from your own. For instance, say you’re an old white guy and you see a tatted up young gal with blue hair and a nose ring wearing shredded jeans and biker boots. Smile at her and say hello. Perhaps you’re a young hipster with a man bun and a latte and you see some middle age broad (possibly me) smirking at your ridiculous hair style. Smile at her and wish her a good day.
Sadly, we can’t expect our politicians to do the same. I highly doubt the next time Trump and Clinton are in the same room there will be any civility. But in my fantasies, Donald smiles at Hillary and says, “Cute pantsuit, Hills.” And she responds, “Love the hair, Donny.” Then they embrace and make cookies while singing kumbaya.
But just because that’s not going to happen doesn’t mean that we can’t take the high road. Let’s disarm each other with our decency. Let’s not be immobilized and bemoan the fact that everything isn’t going our way. Let’s pony up and realize we have an opportunity to make a difference. Trust me, all that good energy adds up. It’s not a quick fix by any means but it’s way more productive than complaining.
What am I going to do to make a difference? Aside from smiling at Mr. Man Bun, I’m working on a book for charity. It’s called The Friendship Bench and it’s being illustrating by the kids from my daughters’ elementary schools. All of the proceeds will be used for acts of kindness.
You might ask why in the heck I think a children’s book has a chance in hell at changing the world. In and of itself, it doesn’t. But I’m focusing my energy on giving my children and their friends a sense of ownership in kindness. If they can learn such a simple thing young, perhaps they’ll create the kind of world we all want to live in.
I challenge you to embrace positive action. I promise you, our world will only be better for it and the only way to a better world is each of us making a difference.
A note to all the celebrities who threatened to leave the country if Donald Trump got elected, if you’re quitters and feel no sense of responsibility for America’s future, sayonara. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. For those of you, who were just blowing off steam, use your celebrity and voice to do some good for the world. Promote kindness, promote good deeds. Give something back that’s worth receiving.
I’d like to end this with a poignant quote by Martin Luther King Jr.
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
***Whitney Dineen is and award-winning and Amazon bestselling author of romantic comedies and middle reader fiction. She lives in Oregon with her family, where they raise chickens, bees and organic vegetables.