Leaving this in 2016

I’ve said for a long time-I don’t like to discuss politics or religion. These are deep rooted beliefs and the conversations will not change how people think and perhaps will cause negative feelings. I’ve abstained from sharing my feelings on this year’s election for the most part…everything is so heated and it’s been really overwhelming to me. It’s caused trouble sleeping and upset stomachs…and I have to admit that I was incredibly emotional after election night-way more than I anticipated. I stayed home and…mourned. So here are some things I am ready to share and express and try to compartmentalize so 2017 can begin as an optimistic year.

I am told I am way to politically correct. I try not to hurt feelings. Honestly, I just want everyone to be happy. To have their own glitter-shitting unicorn. I think that everyone needs different things to be happy and we are all trying to figure out what that is. And I don’t think my opinions should impact your happiness and vice versa. And we should live in a safe world.

I found myself most sad when blanket statements were made about me. Or my friends. Or strangers. It’s amazing to me that people still believe that a religion, a race, a political party can all be captured by one statement. “Because you’re white.” “Because you’re a woman.” “All muslims are terrorists.” “She’s pretty for a black girl.”  I am an individual. You are an individual. Statements like this make me sad, make me lose faith in humanity and kindness.

My good friends decided to go to Harrisburg to be present at the vote of the electoral college. I was lucky enough to have the day off and have the invitation to go with them. And lucky they waited for me when I overslept (which is a rare event!). They made signs the night before-mine reading a compact version of “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” I’m still not sure if that was Voltaire or Spiderman, but it’s an important sentiment. We held signs, sang patriotic songs. I observed the protesters chanting and sharing prayer flags. Then we went inside to the gallery to watch the vote of 20 individuals. Parents brought their kids who were supposed to be in school. They felt this was that important.

It’s always interesting to see things you learned about in social studies in real life. Especially since we sat for the rehearsal and it felt a lot like a school play at first. The gallery was full before voting time. Some protesters shouted, “Vote with your conscience.” Some hummed patriotic songs. Some were removed from the gallery. I, of course, follow the rules and wouldn’t do anything that would disrespect anyone or get me tossed out. I’m a nerd that way.

When each of the electors voted, they didn’t check a box or circle a name. They had to write out the entire name. They all smiled for the photo op as they placed their ballot in the box They were proud. They voted for someone different than I did.  Again, I was more emotional than I expected. Kind of like a funeral or a wedding where I’m not crying, but my eyes just won’t stop leaking. After the vote, some folks left immediately. I truly appreciate the stranger who patted my hands as she walked past my seat. A little comfort from a stranger goes a long way.

I don’t think all republicans are ok with the mass shootings that have happened in our country, that they are “okay with” Sandy Hook and the loss of my high school friend’s little girl and all the others that perished that day. I don’t think all of the people who voted for Trump believe that all Americans don’t deserve equal human rights. I don’t think all Trump supporters think we should build a wall or prohibit all muslims from entering the country. I don’t want people to assume that I voted for her because I am a woman. I voted based on my life and my experiences. Please don’t put me in a category.

I went to a congregational church. During confirmation classes I asked how my church felt about homosexuality. I was told that if a person wants God in their life, our God would not turn them away. Religion is a tough subject, but isn’t that sentiment so important?

I have friends who have had to fight for their relationships to be recognized and endure so much based on who they love. I’m a survivor of sexual assault. I am thankful I didn’t have an important decision to make as a result of that-especially if pro-life supporters were going to make that choice for me. I’ve been close to different types of physical and mental health struggles in so many ways for different people. Through my work I have observed how life can start so fragile and with so many challenges on the first day, some having to overcome so much as parents, as children, as friends.

There are things we vote on that impact the lives of others, but do not change ours. I really just want everyone to be happy. It sounds SO silly. But you should be able to live your life to make that happen. I should not make decisions that would impact your happiness.  I still don’t understand why two women or two men shouldn’t get married in some people’s opinions. How does it impact them?

So, I am going into 2017 with some more focused thoughts.

  1. Be happy.
  2. Make others happy.
  3. Focus on individual issues that are important and work to support them, not just vote every 4 years.
  4. Express that I am not easily explained in a category. Nobody is. And feel strength that I can stand up for that. I am an individual. You are an individual.

Do not assume to know me. Get to know me. Be compassionate. Be understanding. Be empathetic. Be kind. And understand that I will surround myself with people who want me to be happy, want to be happy themselves. Let’s all have unicorns.

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