We have to love each other better … regardless of who wins the election. Remember when we started in school?
Along with clean, crisp clothes and a palpable excitement as we took a pivotal step, we also brought with us a love for all. We loved our teachers, our parents, our neighbors, our friends, our dogs and bugs with intense fervor.
Somewhere along the way, usually around middle school, we started to divide into smaller groups. Either because we were on sports teams or because we were academic athletes. Or, we started to divide because someone told us to cast aside friendship with someone else. We took those words, completely oblivious to their implications, and moved through school slicing groups into smaller and smaller factions.
After formative schooling, people had the chance to make decisions ( good or bad; we’ve all got some of each) that would shape their available routes.
Some started families and some worked towards breaking out of and through glass ceilings. All crucial and critical work to help our world function.
Somewhere along the way, we got so wrapped up in our way of life that we stopped being able to identify with another path. We looked at ours with superiority and, with that, came a freedom to advise everyone. That advisory role was taken each time it was given, either because someone wanted the advice or they didn’t care to argue with you. So, with that we then stretched our reach into other facets that may not even personally touch our world.
And, after that, we then decided that we couldn’t honor another way of life, opinion or choice. That a person was not freestanding to use their talents and gifts in ways to better their world or themselves. And, that they needed to think, look and act a certain way to be of value.
My son on the spectrum can attest to this inadvertently placed box he is in.
I tell him over and over, there will be friends. They are coming. He looks expectedly. Lonely and feeling unheard. While he is still surrounded by children that unconditionally love, they are starting to notice he is different and acting to what is in their wheelhouse. Which is what was in our wheelhouse and, thus, the cycle starts again.
I know others know this pain too well. And, while some of us try and amplify the voices unheard by others, I have to question if the way we are going about it all is wrong?
I was at the dog park today visiting with some good friends. One, a twenty three year old beautiful, intelligent and impressive girl, me, a late thirties woman with an odd sense of humor, a fight for the underserved to finish and a penchant for talking too loudly with her hands, and a seventy something gentlemen with a killer sense of humor, a smile that touches his eyes and a kind heart. We started talking about the election, each carefully intertwining our words with the other’s as to not give away stances or start a conflict but listening. A voice from the oldest generation present said how nice it was to be able to visit like this. It occurred to me that he is right.
When did we stop listening? Stop respecting? Stop valuing? When did we decide each of us had the right to hold someone else back or decide their worth upon a glance or a perceived understanding? When did we decide that hearing replaced the value of listening to understand? When did we decide we were a perfect example of “right”?
We have to love each other better. Because, regardless, of who wins the presidency, this has to take precedence before we tear and separate so much that there is no going back. That our world will be destined for “us vs. them” in every single aspect.
Loving each other and changing the narrative doesn’t have to start or stop with an election. It starts with conversations, stretched comfort zones and looking for things in common as opposed to what divides.
I can tell you that each group telling the other to calm down and dissolve their discontentment with a flippant expectation isn’t it.
The “love everyone” mantra we repeat without innately monitoring to see that this sermon is actually being passed on through changed behavior and open ears. This isn’t working either as we point fingers at each other to “ do better.”
All of this still divides. Whomever wins the presidency will not fix our broken hearts. That work is up to all of us. And, it will be a conscious choice and effort.
Make your kindergarten self proud. They couldn’t stop you from eating glue, don’t let them stop you now.
Photo Credit :: Lindsay Herkert Photography