I voted today.
I had a nice conversation with a couple from Alaska while waiting in line. They didn’t mention who they were voting for and I didn’t ask. I wonder, would our conversation have changed if they were voting for someone I didn’t agree with? I hope not. What if they were online and I could see their leanings? Would I treat them differently? I hope not even though people are far bolder on the internet than they would ever be in person.
Face to face we are just people, not enemies. Face to face we are not objects to deride or mock. We are people thankful to be in a country where no bullets fly by us as we vote, fingers aren’t being cut off because we did, and no bribes were made at the polling place. We are human beings. People with hopes and dreams and loved ones. People with fears and concerns just like me. I guess that is what makes me so sad about the climate we are facing.
Today it isn’t ok to disagree politically with others. If you do you are full of hatred. If you are not full of hatred for disagreeing, then you are an idiot for being a “_______supporter.” We move from being people and fellow Americans to objects. We criticize candidates and their positions but even more so now we criticize those who support the candidates. It is not enough to disagree; we must try to bring shame to those who don’t hold our views. Posts on social media aren’t about beliefs people hold but how stupid the “other” side is. Many in the media will do the same for a laugh. I am heartbroken by this.
Somewhere along the line, we got this all wrong. Somewhere or some-when our culture became a hotbed for hatred and bigotry. I’m sure it began subtly, like a slow leak but now, it is a torrent. I can’t pinpoint when or where but I know the problem we are facing as a country. Whoever is elected today faces an enormous challenge. Both sides have used the climate of objectifying and polarization to win. Now they must try to bring the humanity back. I am just not sure they can. Once you use the tools that have been used, once you bring those weapons to bear they are not easy to put away. Why? Because they work. Villainizing the “other” works. Shaming people works. Just look at the ads. Look at the behavior of the “followers.” Once the horses are out of the barn, putting them back isn’t all that easy. The climate has changed and I am saddened.
I can’t change the weather. But I can live in it and be with people who are experiencing the same weather I am. While I do that, I want you to know something. Human dignity means something to me. I will not stand for bigotry. I will not stand for hatred. I will not stand for objectifying people I don’t agree with. I will not mock people for their beliefs. Even if I am called names, told I am full of hate, or made an object, or mocked I will not change. I will show deference to my fellow human beings. I will love. I will bless. I will encourage. I will disagree. I will stand in the face of this cultural storm, not in the face of my fellow human beings. I will shake my fist. I will square my jaw and dig in my heals. My very humanity is at stake and I won’t let political allegiances or ideologies change my heart.
I voted today.