Written By: Meg McAlarney
Note: This isn't a political piece and all views are that of the writer, Meg McAlarney.
I am a woman and this November I voted for Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States. We all have reasons for picking a candidate and that is the beauty of being an American, we are allowed the right to vote, to choose freely the candidate that best fits our beliefs. I voted for Hillary based on her work with child healthcare, women's rights and social issues. On November 8th, the candidate I voted for didn't win. There was a 50/50 chance of that happening, I get it, I am not bitter, I am not enraged, I accept the democratic process and I hope our new President will not fail because if he does we will all feel those repercussions.
I am a subscriber to social media and believe that everyone has the right to voice their opinion. I also understand that those opinions can differ, and that is part of what makes us unique as Americans. However, there is a way to voice your opinion without being hateful towards others. After perusing through Facebook yesterday (day after election), my heart grew heavy. I saw people who were sad (that's their right), I saw people excited (totally their right), and I saw people angry (I get it). What I saw that made my heart hurt is the lack of respect we were showing towards each other. This wasn't just an election, it was history, it decided which direction our country will head in the next four years. To think people are just supposed to fall in line and not have emotions is silly, and it is also silly to think that the people that won shouldn't feel a sense of pride and optimism. While also historical, we have to understand that this election was very personal to so many, no matter your political beliefs. There were/are issues on the ballot that "personally" affect so many. And for that, we as Americans must be understanding towards each others feelings. Yes, we must mind our manners. Am I sounding to "mommy" right now, forgive me, but I do think there is always a way to meet in the middle, to work together despite our differences. A person's feelings, especially when shared by so many of their same gender, race, or religious beliefs, matter. Why? Because we have become a divided nation, based on these feelings.
I've always tried to be mindful of this, and I'm always aware that people might not think the way I do. How boring would this world be if we all thought the same way? Yes we wouldn't get as anxious scrolling through our Facebook timelines, but after awhile life would get a little bland. We must try and find the silver lining in our differences, we must come together and share our ideas and views in an adult manner. Most of us are raising children, we need to be good examples for them, showing them that people might not think the way you do but that doesn't make them wrong. This is what being an American is about. If the very fabric of our nation, America, is people of different backgrounds and cultures, then calling yourself a patriotic American, by definition, means embracing people of different cultures and backgrounds.
First thing we must do is we must stop using words like "THEY," as in putting all Democrats or Republicans, or millennials, or African Americans, into one group, because there are many reasons people vote the way the do. From the outside it is easy to look at someone and judge them based on their religious affiliation, skin color, what they are wearing that day, etc... But casting a vote is about voting for what you believe to be the best direction for ALL. So, although we have differences, we all really want the same thing. A stronger, better, America. Right?. I've seen "they are disgusting", regarding protestors. Well it's their right as Americans to protest, as long as you aren't violent. And in voting for a better America, we vote for that right every time. I've seen, "they are racists," regarding people who supported Donald Trump. Yes, there might be some people that voted for Donald Trump that have racist views (David Duke), and we can't deny that, but to generalize anyone who voted for Trump as racist, or anyone who voted for Hillary as wanting handouts, is divisive, and contributes to any pessimistic feelings about the future of America.
At the end of the day, we all live together. We walk the same streets, shop at the same stores, eat the same food, and most importantly, live under the same laws, and salute the same flag. We are all Americans, and how we treat each other will greatly decide how our future as a country will turn out. Donald Trump will not be living in your house, paying your bills, nor raising your children, and Hillary Clinton wouldn't be either if she was elected. How you act towards others in your community will go a long way in either making your community great. "Think smaller," as my husband would say. Be accepting, loving, be better today, around town, at your job, whatever and wherever, yes even on Facebook. Real change happens on a small scale, and over time, builds up to bigger and bigger change.
I am a big believer in the power of words, words have depth and hold weight, it is very easy to type words of hate in the heat of the moment. But we must know that those words don't go away, people remember what you say. My mother always told me to, "watch your words because they become your actions." Such a powerful yet simple statement. I always look to her advice any time I feel like I might say something I'd regret. Think of how you'd feel if someone wrote something hateful towards you and your way of thinking, it wouldn't feel good.
We all need to be better, we need to be gracious in defeat and we should not gloat if we are victorious, all things we are, or should be, taught as children. I know it's hard, emotions drive behavior, and emotions when running wild can drive wild behavior... If we all agree that we want a better America, but disagree sometimes on how we want to get there, is expressing your anger on Facebook worth ruining a relationship over? Is it worth hitting that delete button on a friendship? I've seen it in my own family, we've always held different beliefs, but love remains. So why not choose to be mature, choose to listen instead of speak, after all we do have two ears and one mouth. (again, my husband) Only after listening to someone who has different beliefs, can we begin to understand where those beliefs come from. We're all shaped by our experiences, which is why people of similar backgrounds, upbringing, TEND to have similar beliefs. Not always, but most of the time. We can all be better, all of us can improve, not just one side, we ALL can use a little polishing on how we treat others. So I ask the readers to listen a little more, express a little kinder your feelings.
Take it from me, my husband and I voted Democrat in a town that is predominately Republican, does that make us hate where we live? Nope. In fact, we LOVE where we are from. Our views are our views and they will remain, our hope remains on par with those who feel differently in our hometown, and that is America at best. Different people, different cultures, different experiences, different beliefs, coming together as one. This can't happen if we're all so negative in what we say. So I will throw some of my yogi advice at you, take a deep breathe in, exhale, and let go of all that negativity, it's not worth it.