Every year I spend the month of November sharing what I am thankful for on social media like many others do. Instead of writing about the traditional things many are grateful for, though, I try to look for more obscure things to appreciate and share in hopes that someone who lives a different life from me will find themselves being a bit more grateful as well. This year has been a challenge some days. If you watch the news, it seems the US is coming apart at the seams. In the election, many feel as if everything that is wrong with our culture won. Many others feel that the election results are a victory over corruption.
I am currently sitting in the home of two gay men I love dearly in a city that is still feeling the effects of a massacre of that very population by a Muslim extremist. It was a hate crime that didn’t change my views of gay people or Muslims. This week I listened to people passionately debate against one candidate or another. I never really heard anyone lobby for a particular candidate, rather it was a plea not to let the more abhorrent one win. Some people are quite relieved by the outcome. Some are enraged. I am neither, which some would say is because I am white and straight, but I would have felt the same way had the outcome been in favor of the other candidate. You see, I am the same person I was the day before and the day of the election. I am a human being who refuses to hate. I love my friends and family, including those of other races, other cultures, other sexual orientations and other religious or non religious beliefs. I love my family and friends who are part of law enforcement, and I love my family and friends of color. I refuse to let the outcome of this election change me because I decided long ago that I would be the change I want to see in this world, and the thing I want to see more of is love.
What that has done for me is to make it easier to disagree with people and still love them. I have learned that no matter what I say, some people will be offended, even when everything I say comes from a place of love. Do you want to know why? It’s because I cannot change how people see themselves in the world. If people are afraid, I cannot change that except to tell them I love them. Do I struggle to accept some attitudes and behaviors? Of course I do, and I have spoken up when people are abusive to others. I’ve been viewed as a traitor because I speak my truth and because I refuse to vilify others. It hurts, but I continue to do it. Those who know me sometimes find me hard to understand because I strive to see both sides of a situation, and I rarely fall on one side or another on controversial issues. For example, I know some extremely responsible gun owners who have used their prowess with firearms to feed their family in times of financial difficulty, and I know people who have conceal carry licenses who scare the daylights out of me. Taking away everyone’s guns does not seem to be the answer, but our current vetting process is lacking as well, and before anyone brings it up, automatic weapons are already illegal in this country, and yet they exist. I don’t have the answers, but until we are willing to have the conversation instead of insisting on a blanket solution, we aren’t helping the situation at all.
I am also the mother of three white males and the wife of a white male, the group that everyone seems to want to blame for all the ills of our country right now. The men in my immediate family have never committed a crime. They have friends and significant others of different races, religions and creeds. My husband is the most decent man I have ever met, and my sons are lucky to have him as their role model. They understand the plight of those who are different and accept those differences sometimes better than I do, but they also understand that as much as I might struggle with acceptance, that struggle does not come from judgment. It comes from a lack of understanding, which is why I can be incredibly annoying with the number of questions I ask. I don’t ask to judge. I ask to understand, and today I have realized that my gratitude for this day is just that; I am grateful for my willingness and wanting to understand. I am grateful that I have taken the time to talk with others about why they intended to vote as they did. I understand the fear that both sides have that someone is trying to destroy them, and it makes me sad for both. My prayer, my hope and my continued mission will be to understand and share what I learn along the way. It may not solve a single thing, but it is the best way I can move forward. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.