After Charlottesville

broken_heart
broken heart

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.

Republicans, Democrats, Americans

American
American

I am SO frustrated right now with our politics.  I honestly feel embarrassed as an American today.  Don’t misunderstand me; I’m still very glad to be an American, but I’m not proud of who we are right now and I’m embarrassed as we play out our squabbles on the world stage.

There are obviously so many issues going on right now that we are simply unable to even keep up with the many darts being thrown left and right.  It seems as if every day, every hour in fact on some days, brings new topics of conversation to the table and none of them are clear-cut and very few of them are ever resolved.  They are simply being replaced with a new topic du jour.  There is a sense of intrigue, of conspiracy, and of distrust in all things being conveyed nowadays.  The average person honestly doesn’t know what is true and what is not anymore.  The fact that we have our highest level of politicians calling each other liars and putting out inaccurate information is humiliating to me as a citizen.  There is so much stuff being thrown into the air that people cannot keep up and that’s pretty scary to me.  I like to understand what’s going on with things that are relative to my safety, security, and my human rights (and everybody else’s). Continue reading “Republicans, Democrats, Americans”

I Don’t Want to be Involved in Politics!

politics
politics

You know, I’m just a regular Joe(sephine).  I never had political aspirations.  I’m not particularly religious.  So WHY do I now find myself poring over news stations and articles to find out the latest on what’s going on with our new government?  Why am I now taking extra blood pressure medicine almost daily?  Why am I learning so much more about politics, religion, and government?  Why am I suddenly afraid of our future and where we’re going as a country?  Because we are heading to crazy town right now, with our new president driving the bus. Continue reading “I Don’t Want to be Involved in Politics!”

Being American

american
American

I am feeling super American today!  Where else would so much of what happened recently be possible?  Just think about what we’ve witnessed!

We have held a presidential election and, although it made history for its divisive nature, the American people and our democratic process prevailed.   Some people are happy and truly believe that our new president and his vision will make America a better place to live for all of us.  Others are afraid of what’s to come.  Not everybody agrees with the result, not everybody is happy, but this is our process and we elected a new president. Continue reading “Being American”

Protesting – One of Many Tools

protest
protest

Interestingly enough, there are protests being held both in the United States and in South Korea regarding the behavior of the president (or president-elect).

In South Korea, there are more than 500,000 people peacefully protesting in Seoul to demand the president’s resignation.  Their president has apologized twice for the scandal involving a long-time friend that was getting advance policy information with which to advise the president on a number of state affairs.  The friend had no experience or official position and has been accused of an abuse of power and fraud.  It is believed by some that the president is simply a mouthpiece of several others making decisions behind the scenes.  According to a demonstrator: “It’s an explosion of their feelings,” demonstrator Jinwon Kim says of the crowds. “People are very angry.”

Back here in the United States, we are also experiencing protests in various cities throughout the country about our recent presidential election.  Thousands of people are marching in the streets carrying the message of “Not My President”.  These protests appear to be unprecedented in American history.  The protesters are acting on their displeasure with the president-elect’s behavior, words, and decisions.   This election has been singular in the negative, angry, threatening and divisive remarks being made throughout the campaign.  I think most of our country has agreed on that.  The fact that our new president-elect has made so many Americans feel unwelcome, angry, frightened, and unsafe is turning into a big problem for him and the people are letting him know how they feel.  This is key-we have to acknowledge people’s feelings, whether we agree with them or not and whether we believe they are justified or not.  It doesn’t matter how each of us feels; we need to respect everybody’s right to express their opinion.  THIS is the American way.

We hoped that whoever won the election would move forward in a much more positive manner, one that we could all get behind and believe in.  The fact that our votes were almost 50-50 obviously leaves half of us unhappy with the current president-elect.  What’s more American than protesting your dissatisfaction?  We are given the right to do this…peacefully.  There are positives for protesting.  We are letting Mr. Trump know that we are watching him, watching his choices, his actions, and his words (both tweeted and spoken).  We are going to hold him and his staff accountable for the promises he made, for pulling the country together and moving forward on a positive path.  It appears that, to date, he is not following the standard protocol in his actions…not about staffing choices, business matters, publicity and transparency, nor his communications.   I believe this is why people are now protesting.   I think most of us would like to believe that he will, very soon, become the person that we all want to have as president.  He has this one moment in history to make the right choices.  We’re all hoping that he does the right things.

This accountability is important and something that should be an ongoing process, not just when we’re unhappy about something.  We should all be watching the people that make decisions that directly affect us.  If you disagree with something, voice your opinion, become active in the cause, write a letter, make a phone call, and effect change.   Contact your member of Congress!  There is always work to be done at the local government level, which is what affects our daily lives in so many ways.  Getting involved is so important because it not only allows you some control in how your life is affected, but keeps you informed about the issues as well.  If we are all more involved in this process, we won’t need to rely on hearsay, Facebook, internet and television news stories that may or not be factual.  We will be educated participants in the process and be able to make informed choices on issues.

In most recent history, the Black Lives Matter movement was more prominent.  Do we all know what that was about?  Certainly…because it was out there, it was talked about, it was acted on, even if not always apparent.  This is how we, as Americans and South Koreans alike, can express our opinion, hold people accountable, and make change when necessary.  It indicates exactly how we feel about something and it needs to be acknowledged.  This is obviously a world-wide form of communication and one that is effective.   Protests, in whatever form they take, should always be acknowledged and taken seriously.

Election Thoughts

election flags
election flags

Is it me or is everybody else in the United States over this election too?

When this first started, a long time ago and in what seems like a different universe, I was a little excited to see what the candidates would bring.  Now, I just wish that somebody would call a do-over and we could all have a chance to start from the beginning … and do it right this time.

I guess I should start with my own perspective on this.  I’m not happy with the current state of affairs and I’m not particularly unhappy either.  I wish I made more money, I wish I paid less taxes, but I do manage to survive and I feel as safe as any of us can in this day and age.  Of course there are things that I would change, things that I wish for.  However, I’m not delusional enough to think that all of my problems will be solved with the election of either one of the presidential candidates or state representative, etc.   My biggest hope is that we can proceed forward in the best interest of our country as a whole.  I know that no matter what bill is passed, whatever law is changed, whatever decision is made, somebody is going to benefit and somebody is going to lose.  There is nothing in this world that will be the best choice for each and every one of us.  I think most of us adults understand this.  Why, then, has this months-long process turned so ugly?

At this point in the election cycle, I’m so disturbed by every single candidate’s behavior, literature, and rhetoric that I would probably vote for anybody else that I haven’t seen or heard about yet.  I was looking forward to hearing about the choices that we were presented with, what they represented, what they had to say.  Sadly, I did hear it.  I have voted in lots of elections and never before have I been so disheartened.  I have heard some of the candidates’ views, but had to do a LOT of research to find out what I needed to know in order to make a solid decision.  I heard a little more about the topics in the presidential race, but honestly I’m guessing 99% of what I heard from the state level candidates was about the OTHER person.  All of them chose to criticize the other candidate over expressing their own views. I have heard so much negativity this year that it has reached a whole new low.  I have honestly never heard such derogatory things being said by an adult, let alone a presidential candidate, with no repercussions and I can’t believe it has gotten to this point without somebody putting a stop to it.  To hear adults, the potential leaders of our country, say the things that I’ve heard recently is horrible to me.  I’m embarrassed for us as a country.  I’m confused by what we, as the people, are supposed to have learned from them, and I’m finding that, as I try to stay involved and learn more, my mood is becoming more and more depressed about our future.  I’m no longer optimistic about any of the choices or what the future holds for us.  This isn’t how this is supposed to work!  Our candidates are supposed to energize us, inspire us, and instill hope & promise for our future.  What happened?  How did we get to this point?  What can we do about it?

I wish a third-party presidential candidate, one that wasn’t a bully, a liar, or a hypocrite, had popped out of the woodwork a few weeks ago.  We could use one with no baggage or special interest; one that would run a positive campaign.  We probably all would have elected them at this point.  From the state level, I now understand why my state is one of the worst ones to live in anymore and why we’ve had so many politicians put in jail.  I can’t even begin to express how disappointed I am in the amount of literature that I’ve received and how poisonous the tone was.  It’s disturbing to me that we’ve come to accept this as part of political campaigns.

Is it naive to expect the leaders of our communities, our states, and our government offices to be respectful, decent human beings?  Is it wrong to assume that they will behave like adults and the role models that we expect them to be?  We are literally putting our life in their hands.  I don’t think it’s too much to expect that they at least act like they take it seriously.