We Need to Talk

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,

H

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35 thoughts on “We Need to Talk

  1. I’m with you. I went to bed last night feeling blank. Confused. In disbelief. I woke up this morning, poured my coffee and then finally let myself bawl my eyes out because Trump really did win.

    I’m trying to understand why so many people voted for Trump. I imagine their lives must be very difficult and/or very privileged for them to vote against their own best interests and the rights of their female, LGBTQ+, minority friends and family members. I don’t yet understand, but I did donate to Planned Parenthood and RAINN. I’m lucky to have people who support and respect me in my life, but the number of women who came forward with their sexual assault stories was staggering and I wanted to feel like I could do something for them today. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a woman who has been sexually assaulted to have to look at Trump and know he’s the president.

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    1. I don’t believe everyone who voted for Trump is necessarily hateful; my opinion is that his support is a striking commentary on how much cognitive dissonance our country still has toward the injustices that are right in front of our friggin faces. Trump supporters know about his vile comments, and many of them are embarrassed by it. Many of them voted for him anyway because “oh I’m sure he won’t ACTUALLY do that stuff, it was just pandering!” and “…well Hillary is worse, anything but Hillary!” How nice for them that they can overlook these things they claim to find offensive because, at the end of the day, what happens to minorities and women and the poor doesn’t actually affect them personally.

      Thank you for fighting the good fight against sexual assault and causes that matter to you. I admire you for doing it not just in the wake of a tragedy, but all the time. Go girl!

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      1. Yes, I couldn’t agree more with everything you said.

        Also, I saw two Facebook friends try to tell others that Trump supports LGBTQ+ rights because he posed for a picture with a rainbow flag. That tells me that they have no idea what his proposed plans for this country are. That scares me because I don’t want LGBTQ+ rights taken away, but there are so many other important things at stake (climate change, womens rights, health care, immigration, infrastructure and the list goes on). I worry that way too many people voted for him because “he won’t ACTUALLY do that stuff” and because they don’t know what stuff he does want to do. Ugh.

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    2. “I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a woman who has been sexually assaulted to have to look at Trump and know he’s the president.”

      It’s so, so hard. Like the nation just collectively stomped on your personhood.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. As they say, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you see things clearly and, in my opinion, this is pretty darn close to rock bottom. But I am starting to finally feel a little bit hopeful – this has been a wake up call for a LOT of people, so I hope at least a few more of them are motivated to get more involved in the civic process.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am in shock. I guess, a flaw in my perception of this election going in, was that I really could not fathom he could have this much support. I stayed awake and as the results were coming in…I just kept thinking I didn’t know there was that much hate. As I talked with my kids about it, my bottom line was that we can’t control this, but we can control our reaction to it. We CAN be better people, we CAN rise above hate, discrimination, and ignorance, and we control what goes on immediately around us.

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    1. I think a lot of us are now feeling a deep sense of regret that we should have taken the idea of this more seriously and done more to stop it. It’s hard to blame us – I mean, it really did seem so unbelievable and improbable – but now I’m wondering if things might be different if more of us hadn’t just rested on our laurels. Anyway, you’re sending a great message to your kids. I can’t imagine that’s an easy conversation to have but they are at that age when they will soon start making their own meaningful change in their communities, and what better time to start than now!

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      1. Absolutely. I too was in utter shock that Trump won. I knew the polls said it would be close, but in my bubble I didn’t realize there was really a path to victory for him. By 8:30pm eastern on Tuesday I was in disbelief, and I don’t think I really said one word the rest of the night.

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  3. To be honest I thought I was reading The Onion when I opened the NYTimes webpage yesterday morning and saw the headlines. Being so exhausted I fell asleep really early Tuesday just expecting to see a headline like “Shattering the Glass Ceiling” when I woke up, and I actually LAUGHED because I was in such disbelieving, horrified shock. Not much more to say, but I posted this on FB yesterday even though I barely use the thing anymore:

    “A few weeks ago, my husband and I found out that the baby we’re expecting in March is a little boy. We were already thrilled, but when I woke up this morning, I was oddly comforted to know that, because he’s a he, he won’t face discrimination in a country that values his mother, grandmother, and other female family and friends less than himself, and that elected a leader who is openly derogatory towards women. Of course, since then, I’ve wondered, how am I going to raise a boy who sees that kind of speech and behavior every day to understand that it’s not acceptable? I don’t often engage in public political discourse, but that has to be a question on the mind of every parent in America today.”

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Alyssa. I’ve seen many, many comments from expectant parents and parents of young children. I cant imagine what a difficult conversation that must be and what a difficult road lies ahead in raising a child in what has become such a divided, hostile environment.

      I read a lifestyle blog called Reading My Tea Leaves, and she wrote a post yesterday I think you’ll like. She is also expecting a child, her 2nd, in January (and is a fellow NYCer!), and wrote a very beautifully written post about her own feelings: http://www.readingmytealeaves.com/2016/11/what-will-i-tell-my-children.html

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  4. So Hanna, I guess I will labeled as dismissive, but I have been through many elections some better than others, this being the worst, but the foundation and principles of our nation are not changing. One man can not change them and he does not change who I am. I do believe I need to be active in voting ( and I am) but I also realize I have to accept many outcomes.. taxes, laws, programs, that I strongly disagree with that is part of the process. Yes, I vote, but i really have no control. After years of experiencing that I realize the only thing i can control is my reaction and I choose to be involved but it is not a driving passion for me.
    Looking at the big picture Democrats controlling the white house for 8 years, I fully expected Republicans to take the position back…these things go in swings, but since he became the candidate I thought it really would not happen. I think the Supreme Court seat is a big issue among other things, I think voters realized other issues were at stake and turned out to vote…
    Anyway, this is the comment l left on megan’s blog…I just have a different perspective, it is not that I do not care about this country at all because I am a very patriotic person. I care very much about everyone’s right to pursue freedom, I care very much about the fundamentals we are built and very blessed to live where I do. I do always vote, support local candidates, but it is not a huge passion for me. In the end I do not have control and i have to accept what the majority rules…I have to accept the good with the bad because I have lived long enough to know not everyone will ever get everything we want. It still does not change who i am, or how I live my life, and I do not believe people or things are suddenly going to change in huge swings.
    I found the process sad this time as a whole.
    I am so relieved the whole thing is over, I hope I do not live to see another cluster of an election like this one.
    I will be honest it wasn’t the outcome I expected, but I thought Hillary’s speech was very gracious, the most gracious I remember ever seeing her. I took her words to heart yesterday. The President’s speech also that we are one team not a D or R first, was one of the best statements I’ve ever heard and I believe very true.

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    1. Karen – I so agree with you. It’s not that I don’t care. I do care. But I have learned through life that dumping energy into places it cannot make a difference is futile. So, I focus, as best I can, on the things I CAN control. And do not use energy on the things I cannot. I voted. I watched some Netflix after work and tuned in to see the polls before going to bed. My lack of outward outrage does not mean I do not care. It means I will use my voice to be kind to those around me.

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      1. Jessie, I respect your right to react however you want. This isn’t me trying to convince everyone to be outraged or have strong opinions on every single thing. I’m just a little tired of this “sit on the sidelines” approach that so many – including me, until now – have adopted toward what is going on in our government, our communities, and our world. These issues truly affect all of our lives, and I want to have a more active role in engaging in them and trying to impact them. This isn’t at the expense of being kind; the two aren’t mutually exclusive. You individually may not be able to control much, but you have the ability to influence others with your actions, and that has a ripple affect that CAN create change. I’m glad to see you’re going to use that power by being kind. I think that’s very important too. I am going to start by being more vocal and learning more about others by having conversations and listening to their viewpoints. That was the whole point of my post. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree about the value of that.

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        1. I think maybe my comment came off wrong. Not disagreeing that people should get up and be active and do something. I guess more acknowledging my apathy towards it in the sense that while I plan to continue to be a good person, this does not incite a rage inside me like it does some. So, I won’t be getting more politically active. Personal choice is all. I feel I’m already at the top level of my care, so I don’t need to change much in terms of being involved in causes I care about.

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    2. Okay, so, a lot to take in here (and FYI, I did already see your comment on Meg’s blog). It sounds like the gist of what you are trying to say is that you don’t feel it’s worth it to make your voice heard because it won’t make a difference and you can’t control everything that happens – please, correct me if I’m getting that wrong. I can relate to the feeling of hopelessness and being lost in the shuffle, believe me. But can you just imagine if everyone in the country felt that way? If not a single person ever made their voice heard, or fought the tough fight for change, or worked to inspire others, because they all believed it was hopeless and it was someone else’s business? Democracy is about protecting the MINORITY from tyranny of the majority, as our founders called it. That’s why we have the electoral college, in fact. Standing up and voicing our opinions even when we can’t individually do anything isn’t a refusal to accept the will of the majority – it’s about ensuring that those who aren’t in the majority also have a voice.

      And, I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but I wish people would please stop characterizing this as us just throwing a hissy fit because we didn’t the result we wanted. Yes, there are some people who are being alarmists and taking things too far. But as for the rest of us, people like me and Meg and Kristina and many of my friends and family – we understand how government and checks and balances work, we understand that he can’t just go on some dictatorial spree, we even understand the nuances of why some people voted for him, and we understand that we have to live with things we don’t want sometimes. We’re just upset. The fact that we are being led by someone who is openly racist, sexist and xenophobic is a huge affront to what we value, and we are struggling to deal with that. Please try to understand where we’re coming from. I understand many don’t share that feeling and don’t agree, but if so, I’d ask that they please just give us some space to process the things we’re feeling, instead of telling us that we’re overreacting and to shut up and move on.

      Please understand Karen, I really do respect your opinion and I’m glad you voiced it. The comments from you and Jessie, along with other comments I’ve gotten, are exactly what I was trying to advocate for in this post – to just speak your mind. Let your voice be heard. Have conversations with family and friends so we can all start understanding each other a little better. Maybe if we had done more of that these past 18 months, the hatred wouldn’t have gotten so out of control. That’s all I’m asking. I’m not asking you to share my outrage or agree with me, I don’t expect everyone to start rounding up yard signs, knocking doors and spamming Facebook. I just want people to start being more open and taking more of an interest in what’s going on around us. It’s not comfortable but I truly feel it needs to be done.

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  5. I honestly wish more people had the passion to discuss these topics while also having the composure to have others disagree with views and opinions. I have a natural ability to listen, analyze, and in some cases change my stance for the better. What I saw in our country through the news and social media since the election has made me sad. I agree 100% that we need to be more involved and educate ourselves. This election came down to “who do I dislike more” for a lot of people and that means we are not doing our job as the American people. Perhaps it is time for some of us leaders outside the political world start truly standing up for our fellow Americans.

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    1. I completely agree, Richard. People complain about how awful our candidates both were, but they didn’t get there by accident. If we want people who are more representative of our values, then we need to start electing them, and not just waiting every 4 years to vote. Getting good candidates isn’t someone else’s job – it’s ours, all of ours. I truly believe a big part of the reason we ended up with the candidates we did is lack of participation in the primaries (which has always been a problem). We’ll never see the change we want if we don’t start making our voices heard and reminding the politicians that we are here, and we VOTE.

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  6. I think as a country our desire for change is good. But I think our implementation is lacking. We’re looking at a big picture. Oh no, Trump has been elected. We’re all screwed. Instead of looking at the details that make up the bigger picture. He doesn’t just get to write edicts & pass them out. We have changes that can be made on smaller levels, and education & understanding are a big thing I think we all need right now. Education on racism and sexism, and how they’re experienced. So that people who don’t have to deal with that can understand and empathize. We all need a little empathy right now & that, in my mind, starts with education.

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    1. Please keep in mind that it hasn’t even been 48 hours since the results of the election. People are still upset. They are still trying to process feelings that include fear, anger, and a sense of betrayal. Yes, I realize some people are being rather alarmist, but most of us do, in fact, know that Trump can’t “just write out edicts and pass them out.” We know how government works, and we understand the nuances behind why people elected him. We’re just upset. If others don’t understand why we’re upset or don’t share that feeling, then I ask that they please just scroll on past and give us space for a while. When people were upset at Obama’s election, I let them grieve; I’d appreciate if they can do the same for me and many of my friends and colleagues.

      As to your second point about the importance of education – yes! That’s very important. And that’s exactly why, as I stated, I feel it’s so important for us to stop being complacent and starting giving voice to our thoughts and experiences.

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  7. I was sobbing. Literally sobbing.

    As someone who has suffered under the type of toxic masculinity that Trump promotes, I legitimately felt betrayed, not just by America, but by my family that voted for him.

    But, even though I did vote, I realized I’m somewhat to blame. I’m relatively informed, but I voted… and that’s it. I made the commitment to be better in the future, if not for myself then for my LGBT and minority friends. One vote typically doesn’t make a difference in a national election (especially in my state!), but one person can make a difference in a community, and that difference can carry over into local and national elections. I’m going to pick a few more organizations to donate to regularly and get involved with helping immigrants/refugees in my community.

    Mid-term elections are only 726 days away!

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Katie. I, like you, am left with the regret of feeling like I didn’t do enough. I, too, didn’t do anything besides vote. It makes me sad that so many people think it’s not worth it to make their voice heard because they can’t control the outcome. I too am doing a lot of soul searching about how I can be better. I don’t have all the answers but I truly think that just voicing my opinion and engaging in the issues is where I need to start. What’s the worst that can happen, someone disagrees with me? There are worse things. Clearly…

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  8. What I have never been able to comprehend is how someone can look at someone with a different skin tone and determine that person is inferior. How? How does that make sense?
    I will still always deep down believe that people at their heart are good. But I studied enough history in grad school to know that the world goes through periods of darkness and grave evil – maybe that will happen in the short future, or maybe it will not. What we need right now is a revolution of the heart in our nation – where people can look at other people and see humanity, not race, orientation, or class.

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    1. Agreed, Laura. But what scares me is that I just don’t know how on earth we do that. I was having this conversation with one of my old professors yesterday. We were talking about the need to seriously fix the way we talk to and relate to each other in this country, and I finally just said, “but how? We always say we need to do this, but no one knows how.”

      How do we teach empathy? How do we teach people the value of listening? How do we show people who have gone through life being nasty that there is a better way? It frustrates and scares me that I just don’t know how we can make this happen. All I can think of right now is that we all just need to be the change and hope that the example we set will eventually rub off on the people around us.

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      1. As naive as it probably sounds, I think that is the way. So many people are responding to Trump’s election and the violence that others are doing with hateful speech. Only love overcomes hate (to quote MLK and many others) and so we must treat even those who act hatefully with kindness (because you can still treat someone charitably yet let them know they are wrong). Responding in like affirms the way they act. Responding with kindness shocks those who act with violence, forces them to stop and think about how they act. Even more so, we must see people blindly of race, ethnicity, religion, class, orientation, political party, etc. and act in ways that affirm each person’s individual dignity.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. My first job was in fast food and they always told us – be nice to rude people, because then they feel bad about being rude 🙂

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  9. When I get really upset, I get very quiet. When I struggle in a race, I get quiet. When I’m sad, I get quiet. When I’m tired, I get quiet. But when I’m quiet, I try to figure out what I can do. Animal welfare issues are very important to me, but I rarely talk about them. But I act every day to do what I can to promote animal welfare in the choices I make with what to consume and support. This election is a different beast though. What can I do? How can I change this? In a previous job, I had to deal with local politics, and I know from that I could never have a political job. But maybe I can volunteer locally? The thing is, our county here in PA was one of the few blue ones in the state. I have no idea what I can do to effect change in the places where values and perspectives are so completely opposite of mine and when the comments from Trump supporters on local articles and media are so vitriolic and hateful that reason seems to have no place. As we all talk about this, I hope we can share ideas about what we can do to minimize the damage that is sure to come and to mobilize and prepare for the next election. The mostly-blue map showing millennial voters gives me hope for the future.

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    1. Thanks Jen! This is exactly what I was advocating in my post – to just simply open up these lines of communication and share our experiences and thoughts so we can better relate to each other. It appears some people have taken this to mean that I want force a reaction about the election and have everyone to become political and impassioned. Really, I just want us to start having more meaningful conversations with each other stop hiding the thoughts and opinions that might ultimately make this country a better place. We all say we want people to start having more empathy and relating to each other…but how can we expect that to happen if we’re not willing to talk about and share our experiences? That’s exactly what I’m trying to say. Those conversations are where change and progress are going to come from.

      I too am a very quiet person by nature, so its always been difficult for me to speak out even when nothing is at stake. But now I wonder if the consequences of holding back are just too great. I too will be thinking a lot about what exactly I can do, because I don’t think I can ever run for office either. I just don’t have a thick enough skin or an outgoing enough personality to be successful at it.

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      1. Yes, I totally get where you’re coming from. One of my immediate concerns is what can be done to minimize what Trump plans to do that would put climate change in the “danger zone,” according to a NYT article today. It’s actually terrifying how much he can do since delaying and stopping plans and measures could yield significant damage to the planet. If I find out anything that could help, I will share in hopes of creating a dialogue with others who are interested in that. If enough of us look into the issues we’re concerned about and share that with each other, we can better face this new reality in a positive way.

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  10. As someone who did make my voice heard, I wish I’d gone further. I’ve always been into politics, but it’s time for me to volunteer my time. It’s time for me to share articles and facts outside of my own Facebook bubble. To speak up to people who I disagree with even if I don’t think it will make a difference, and even if those people are my bosses. HRC inspired me to speak up, but her loss has fueled me even more.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ” It sounds like the gist of what you are trying to say is that you don’t feel it’s worth it to make your voice heard because it won’t make a difference and you can’t control everything that happens – please, correct me if I’m getting that wrong.”
    I do vote and I do participate. If there is an outcome I do not like I have to accept it, the good with the not so good. I was not saying I can’t control it so it doesn’t matter. I just have to realize it’s part of the process. I am simply saying once the outcome has happened I have to keep living my life and i will not react to all the things I think could happen, I will wait and see what does happen.
    Political topics I try to steer away from. It is not my nature to be combative, nor do I find endless debate uplifting…we could debate some of these issues all day and typically that does not inspire support or change someone’s mind. In the end, I still believe people who may think differently still have something to offer to each other and I like to connect on things we can agree on. I do not feel the need to fix someone who doesn’t see the world from my view…and I admit sometimes it easier to surround ourselves with people of similar beliefs, but I still sincerely believe in a nation with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” I don’t feel that has changed.
    I sincerely feel bad to see someone sad, and I tried to respectful of that.

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    1. It sounds like you have taken my posts and comments personally, so I apologize if I made you feel attacked in any way. I really am not trying to “fix people who disagree with me”, I am not trying to get everyone to feel the same way I do or react the same way I do. This post really was not about politics, Karen. I just want to say that I am now inspired to make my voice heard and join in conversations more often, and I’m inviting others to join me. I am trying to advocate for caring more about the people and the world around us. I was not trying to accuse any one person (besides myself) of not doing so, so I am sorry if it came off that way. I know not everyone will take me up on this offer, and that is their right. But I believe very strongly that in order to move forward we need to start understanding each other better, and I don’t see how that’s possible if we can’t open up and have honest conversations with each other. You are actually doing the very thing I am advocating for: making your thoughts and feelings heard. And as a result, I’ve learned more about you and you’ve learned more about me and hopefully we understand each other better. That’s really all I want. Does that make sense?

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  12. Yes, I would love to be able to chat about things and still be friends even if we can’t always agree…I was so torn as some of my blog buddies did posts about this and I almost felt rude not to weigh in, yet I hate to say something to make it worse, because seeing people so upset is a genuine concern for me. It actually weighs on my heart heavy…I had a hard time thinking of the sadness while trying to run Saturday.

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