I feel like I need to say something about all that’s happened over the past few days. I’ve tried extremely hard to be fair in writing about politics, even though I have very strong feelings. However, this has now exceeded my level of patience.
This post, though, is not just about politics, nor just about bigotry, hatred, or prejudice. This post is about my personal take on humanity. I can’t just sit here and not say anything. I’ve felt the words building up in my chest for months, watched the state of our country deteriorate and our faith in our government’s ability to do the right things erode. I’m outraged, embarrassed, and disgusted by where we seem to be headed as a country. There have been many disappointing decisions made over the months, but there seems to be such an underlying negative pervasiveness and tolerance of it with this administration that I’m genuinely worried for us for the first time in my life. I’ve been trying to convince myself that it will all get straightened out and that I’m overreacting, but I cannot let go of this feeling of foreboding.
I am going to say up front that I did not vote for Mr. Trump. He frightened me and disgusted me with his violence, his disdain for principles, and his propensity for lying, even when the truth would have been easier. These things signaled to me that he would not be good for the individual people we are nor as a country as a whole. To me, a president is responsible for standing up for ALL of us, for each one of us, individually, as well as a country. This past weekend demonstrated, beyond all doubt, that he is incapable of representing us as we deserve. Not only did he fail to denounce the actions in Charlottesville as they were happening, nor afterwards, in the harsh words that we deserved, but dug his heels in on the matter. People surrounding the president, people in both parties, people all across the country condemned him for his weak response and he stubbornly refused to say what the people were begging to hear. I believe we deserve better than this, but that’s my opinion and something I address on an individual level.
What I want to say about this weekend is much more important than just one president that won’t represent all people. First of all, I want to apologize to ALL people who have ever felt slighted, denied, treated unfairly or hated based upon their color, race, religion, age, gender, sex, lifestyle, etc. (basically, all of us). Obviously some are far more serious than others, but few of us are unaffected. We can all say that we have a reason to feel like we have been stereotyped or treated differently just like we can all say that we, in turn, have made judgments against others based on various reasons. There are very few among us that can say, in all honesty, that they are without fault.
I think a lot of our inner beliefs come from various sources: history, family beliefs, environment, community, friends, opportunities, and individual experiences. However, how we behave, what we choose to learn, how we grow and expand our thinking and how we react to each other is completely within our own control. At what point do we accept personal responsibility for ourselves and not blame our behavior on something or someone else. At what point do we stop blaming other people for our own circumstances?
I’m going to qualify myself here so that you can understand my perspective. I’m a white woman, almost 60 years old. My experiences throughout life were both good and bad. Have I experienced things based on my gender, age, and/or race? Yep, although not nearly as significant as some others have. Sadly, most of us have and it is a part of our lives. There are varying levels of significance, but I’m writing from my experience and perspective. I will not let any of the things that I’ve experienced change who I am. Everybody has their own set of circumstances that make up who they are. It is my decision on how I react to incidents of bigotry, unfair treatment, or racism. Each of us has to react in the way that reflects the person that they want to be. Have I always said and done exactly the right thing myself? No, but I will say that I’ve grown, I’ve learned, and I always strive to be the best person that I can be. I’ve learned to be more vocal about the wrongs that I see, to stand up for what’s right. We all make mistakes; mistakes don’t define us. Our intent, our beliefs, our words and our actions make up who we are.
I can unequivocally say that I’m very sorry for all the horrible things that have happened throughout history. We all know the many people that were affected, from the beginning of time, by the hatred and violence of those that inflicted unforgivable acts. The current reality, however, is that we are not in a position to remedy any of these things. We cannot go back in time to set things right. We cannot make up for the injustices of so many acts that have been perpetrated throughout the decades, the centuries, to so many different groups of people. Our ancestors lived a different reality than we do. Our future generations are going to live a different reality than ours is. We cannot change the fact that these things happened, but we can make sure that it never happens again!
As bad as the circumstances surrounding this weekend were, there is hope in the swift and ferocious condemnation against these hate groups. It means that so many of us, across all races and religions, have grown, we’ve learned from the past and will not accept this type of hate. It’s up to ALL of us to continue this vigilance. THIS is our responsibility going forward. We cannot change the past but we can change the present and the future for ourselves, our children, and grandchildren. This is a defining moment and one that is important to every single one of us. We each need to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions every single moment of every single day.
I think it’s very unfortunate that we have a president and his administration that are incapable of leading us in this effort. I’m really sad that he is unable to soothe the American people, to reassure us that these types of things will not be tolerated or to condemn the specific people that were responsible for this. That can’t stop us, though. We cannot allow haters and bigots to win. We are a better people than that.
We, the individual people, are America. We are individually responsible for how our country will evolve. Not one of us can go back in time; we cannot change what’s happened before right this minute. We must, however, do a better job of being human beings. I’m so sad today that anybody in this world is forced to feel “less than” anybody else let alone to endure such hatred and violence as we’ve been witness to. I’m literally nauseous watching the new information coming through on a constant basis. My heart breaks for the people forced to endure hate or prejudice. It makes me ashamed as an American today, but it also makes me hopeful that maybe, just maybe, now will be the time of real change that we’re capable of. I’m hopeful that, even without the leadership that we deserve right now, we will be able to join together to defeat this threat.