So, after this week, there are some things on my mind. I could have done the easy thing and stayed silent until I have some minimalism or running thing to post about. But keeping my thoughts quiet isn’t the right choice. Not this time. I want to speak my mind about something. And I hope you’ll hear me out, because other than the next paragraph, this is not another political post or more of the same thing you’ve been hearing all day.
First let’s get one thing out of the way real quick, although I promise you this post is about more than just this – the results of last night’s election left me disgusted, embarrassed, and heartbroken for this country. I have to talk about this because it’s the reason I was inspired to write this post. The new leader of our free world is someone who displays open and unabashed disdain for minorities, Muslims, and the poor; who gleefully mocked a disabled American; who doesn’t bother to hide his contempt for women; and who, for goodness’ sake, started the Birther movement of our President. I don’t just say this to complain or be combative – I say it because I am scared and I am hurt by this. My emotions have died down a bit but this all still feels like a surreal dream. To say it has been difficult to process is an understatement. And I refuse to apologize for being upset about this just because a bunch of people want everything to be sunshine and rainbows on social media again. It won’t last forever, but I own and feel no shame in my feelings.
But, again, that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. As most of you know, I am a pretty introspective person, so naturally this whole ordeal has me thinking a lot about what role I have played in all of this, what I could have done, how I could have been better even if nothing I did was going to affect this outcome one bit. Something (else) has changed today, and that is this:
I cannot continue to be silent about issues that matter.
I cannot continue to waste my education, intelligence, and citizenship by disengaging with political and community issues because it’s “unpleasant” or it might “ruffle feathers”. I need to engage. I need to talk about these things.
I think we can all agree that the social climate in this country, especially around politics, has became toxic and hostile at levels we have never seen before. As mad as I am that those emotions helped drive these election results, I’m more disappointed in the rest of us, on both sides of the spectrum, who value respectful intelligent dialogue and active listening but never speak up about issues because we’re too afraid of making people upset or attracting nasty comments. How come we aren’t the ones dominating comments sections? How come we aren’t the ones running for office and participating in debates? Why are we letting the most poorly behaved among us set the tone of the most important conversations in our nation? Those of us who value civility are the new “silent majority”, and I can’t be a part of it anymore. It’s not worth it to stay silent on issues that affect ALL of our lives just because a few people might be annoying a-holes about it.
We are the leaders, role models, and grown-ups here, and we need to start setting a good example for the people around us. Preaching platitudes at people “stop being divisive” and “show more love” isn’t going to work. Lecturing people doesn’t change their behavior, inspiring them through action does. So let’s show everyone a better way forward: that we can be passionate, informed, and respectful about issues that matter, and that we can’t and should not stay silent about them just because it’s not all happy-talk.
I need to start talking about things. That’s what I’ve been doing today – for the first time in forever, actually talking about the election with friends and reading discussions. And it feels good. It feels good to voice my opinion and engage with other people again.
And, I hope you’ll join me. I hope you’ll start voicing your respectful and well-reasoned opinions, too. I’m not saying you have to be super politically charged or tell the world who you vote for all the time. Talk about things that are going on in the world, in your community, in your city, state, and federal elections, things that are affecting our lives. I want to listen. And I want you to share them with your friends, and family, and elected officials, too. Just, please, TALK.
Because seriously, guys – this stuff matters. It matters a hell of a lot more than our running times and our recipes and how much we decluttered from our closets. We can’t keep burying our heads in the sand. Staying in our bubbles and shutting out critical issues because we don’t feel like being inconvenienced by things that aren’t easy to deal with can have serious consequences. Ignoring things won’t make them go away, and I think we owe it to the health of our democracy to be active participants in it.
I suppose now I need to take my own advice and stop preaching. I just honestly believe that this world will be a better place if we each take more of an interest in it, and in each other.
Don’t worry, I’m not turning this into a political blog or anything. But I now resolve to be more engaged and to have real conversation with the people in my life. I’m done being quiet. I can’t afford to anymore.
Thanks for listening,