America is the dream country of many, and still today, despite it all, admired by many, even if nowhere near as many as before. It is still seen as The Land of Opportunity, The Home Of The Brave.
America is everyone who, every day, wears a mask to protect other people from a virus that is terrifying us all on a daily basis.
America is people protesting on the streets in unprecedented numbers over the murder of their loved ones and neighbors as a result of their race or gender.
Americans will help you without a second thought, even if you are a stranger. They’ll say welcome to our country, we are happy that you are here, let’s be friends.
Americans will give you a seat at their table and share what they have with you, even if they have almost nothing.
America will elect gay and transgender people, and people of color, including women of color, to positions of authority and influence within their country.
America is Native Americans.
America is immigrants.
America is People of Color.
It is Christians, and Muslims, and Atheists, and so much more.
It’s children and men and women, and every gender in between, because in America, you can be exactly who you want to be.
America is people who believe in science.
America loves God and wants everyone to be free to pursue their own religion. And Americans loves their fellow citizens.
America is pumpkin pie and country music, it’s the Statue of Liberty and baseball and hot dogs.
And America is the country suffering most from the pandemic, it’s school shootings and racism and homophobia, and the Proud Boys and the Ku Klux Klan.
America is Barack Obama and America is also Donald Trump.
America is proud to be free, and treasures its freedom above all, even above life itself. America also wants to protect itself, and all it loves and holds dear.
America is people who think only their religion is the right religion, and everyone else will die at Armageddon, and all Americans should follow the same religion for their own good.
And America is also people who believe there are only two genders and love should only be between a woman and a man and only within the confines of marriage.
America is also people who fear that being forced to wear a mask is a step towards losing other freedoms.
America will assume you are a danger to its way of life because you are a stranger, and on that basis will not care if you die, or suffer horribly, or if your infant children are torn screaming from your arms and you never see them again.
America will make you afraid every time your Black child leaves the house to buy some candy because they may not come back.
Prodded by an English actor in a raunchy yet oddly heartbreaking comedy, America will say things like “gas the scientists!” and outwardly wish they could “kill the gays” and “bring slavery back.” These are not exaggerations or taken out of context.
America will fixate on certain things as most important, and for the sake of these things ignore their God, and everything Jesus stands for, with inexplicable pride –as this and the last elections have made clear.
You may want to say only the first few descriptions are what America really stands for. You may want to say “those other people are not part of MY America.”
But, they are. You have to realize, they are.
It’s easy to want to put it as simply as “it’s ignorance or it’s evil –there is no middle ground” as I myself have done as recently as this morning. We say that to ourselves because we cannot comprehend it otherwise.
But I know some of you have sweet grandparents, and loving moms and dads and sisters and brothers, who voted for Trump and what he stands of, and in doing so, broke your heart. They aren’t racist people (well, sometimes maybe a little). They aren’t sexist (or maybe they aren’t maliciously). They aren’t evil, or unintelligent. And you don’t understand. How could they? I know that hurts. I have felt the same pain time and time again.
This is not an “evil” country, it is not as ignorant or as blind as the close race may lead us to think. That is far too simplistic a conclusion.
There are people who are on different sides and cannot reach middle ground despite loving each other very much.
I will tell you one thing that we all have in common, by and large. We love America. The reason so many people voted in such massive numbers (regardless of who they voted for) is real fear and concern for a country that we utterly love. For the most part, we all want one another to be okay, and we all think we know exactly what’s best to achieve that.
It is easy to let the hateful rhetoric of the last four years, and the fact that we didn’t get a landslide victory (though I do still think Biden will win) make you hate everyone who voted for Trump, or at least feel disgust and contempt for people who did. But it’s too many people to take that route. It will get us nowhere.
Last night, I went to bed feeling that Biden would win. But in spite of that, when I laid down, I cried. I cried because I thought what happened before in 2016 was a fluke. And now, I had to accept that the country of my dreams really supports this man. Was it still the country of my dreams if it did? And what made it come to this?
If it’s any consolation, at least half of the country is as heartbroken as you are. I do believe many people who voted for Trump are better than their vote. They are not their vote alone. Their vote disappoints me, brings me to tears, but it doesn’t mean to them what it means to me. They voted with their morals in mind. But I refuse to believe that those morals are America’s morals, or if anything, that they are the morals that will propel America forward.
I want to believe in love, and self-respect, in science, in tolerance, in freedom, and in democracy, and in voting in a way that supports that.
I believe that fear drives a lot of these seemingly inexplicable choices. They can make us plug our ears and make decisions that have terrible consequences for our neighbors, because we are afraid, for ourselves and our families, even if the fear is irrational or unfounded. When many share your fears, it can be hard to be rational or care if your choice hurts other people.
And so here we are.
I don’t think America’s soul is lost. Not yet. But deeper division may cause that, and I believe regardless of the outcome of the election, and no matter how hard it is, we need to reach out across these painful lines to understand why this happened. Otherwise we can’t fix it.
Otherwise it will happen again.
If you’ve discussed this with me in person, the conciliatory of my post may strike you as odd, as maybe giving up the fight. Over the last few days, you may have heard me raise my voice, cry, rant in despair, and this post does away with a lot of that anger. Maybe because I’ve used it all up. Maybe because it’s not the solution.
If you voted for Trump in spite of the terrible things he has said, and done, and tweeted, and supported, well… listen… I don’t hate you. I don’t understand you, and I am too broken hearted for a discussion about it at this time, but I don’t think you’re a garbage person or an idiot, or a Nazi. I know it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple, not ever. We only wish it was.
I just wish you knew where we are coming from, too. And my God, I’m crying again as I type this. I gave everything up to come here. Twenty years later I am finally working towards my citizenship. This country is everything to me. And I’m seeing those of you who voted for Trump just… kind of spit on your own country’s values. I don’t understand why.
Why don’t you think the country deserves better? I don’t mean it has to be a Democrat you vote for, and I’m not saying you’re a bad person if you are a Republican or Conservative. But I wouldn’t vote for any Democratic candidate I found morally reprehensible, and I consider myself a Democrat. Is party lines all it comes down to? Does the behavior of the candidate truly just not matter? Is it just “I root for this team no matter who leads it?” Maybe it is. Anyway, these are rhetorical questions… please don’t engage me (at this time) with your reasons.
Both sides feel so misunderstood, each so disappointed by the other side. But when so much of America is divided, it is also undeniable that there is a link of love that inevitable crosses back and forth, a lot of people on different sides love each other, love their neighbor, care about everyone in the country and not just themselves. They think they are making the right choice for everyone.
America hasn’t yet lost its soul. You may not want to believe it, but everything that’s come to the forefront was already there. Trump didn’t cause it. We were progressing, and even if it doesn’t feel like it, as a people, we still are. At the core, we still are. Don’t let what is happening right now make you lose sight of that.
Whatever side you are on, and even if you are on the winning side (whichever that is) you’ll probably be sad with the results of this election, even if your side wins. Because no matter what, half the country has made you despair of its better judgement.
Despair if you must, but please remember to keep loving one another, because America won’t lose its soul as long as we can still do that.
And yes… I know it’s hard.