The title sounds a little odd, but trust me, it will make sense once I explain. In 1776, John Adams comes to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace. Two are called a law firm, and three or more are called a Congress. In layman's terms, he's pretty pissed off at the Congress he's on because they have yet to do anything of the sort to vote for independence from England. Proposal after proposal, everyone in that room would say the same thing: "For God's sake, John, SIT DOWN!" At the very end, as John leaves the room in frustration yet again, one of the members cries, "Will someone shut that man up?" "NEVER!" Mr. Adams replies. "NEVER!" No matter how bogged down things got in that room, whether that is no action at all or even pleading for someone to "open up a window," John Adams refused to give in to their demands or stoop to their level. I'm pretty sure we've been feeling like John Adams lately. Or even if you haven't felt like him, that's okay, too. But the main point I'm going at is his steadfast commitment to see our nation to independence, even if it took an idea of slapping people outside the head to do so. (I'm not sure if he ever did such a thing, but he did feel it in his heart, right?) Perhaps that's why some of us feel like him right about now. We've been through the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. And quite frankly, these past four years have been UGLY, in my humble opinion. If you feel like they have been the best four years of your life, that's great. I won't stop you from thinking this way. I can't control you. But there has been so much chaos, disorganization, fear, anger, racism, sexism, and much more going on a frequent basis, there has to be a line drawn when enough is enough. I know I've drawn that line, more than once. So, what do you do when you've had enough of all the bad things that are going on around you? Well, you could do several things - you could protest, you could write and sign petitions, you could call your congresspeople, you could stand in solidarity with those who are being oppressed, or you could actually LEARN about each other. Have you had a chance to personally learn about those who are different from you racially, politically, sexually, or religiously? If so, what did you get to know about them? What are their beliefs? Their questions? Their curiosities? Their hopes? Their dreams? It's not easy to do these with all the screaming, ignorance, and proving themselves to be right and everyone else is wrong. We've learned so much about ourselves and each other these past four years, and while I'm not sure if I can put them all in this blog, it's easy to see that some are longing for things to change, or in some cases, remain the same. The why remains to be seen. It could be they've benefited from certain rules and changes to laws. It could be they don't want this country to go backward. It could be they want someone to run the country like a reality TV show. It could be they can't stand seeing people who are different from them by race, religion, gender, and sexuality be mistreated or forgotten anymore. It could be they want someone to be dominant over everyone else and not care about the feelings of others. It could be they want equal opportunities for everyone. It could be they don't want their guns taken away. In all fair honesty, it could be ANY of those things. Do you know what I think the biggest problem I saw these past four years? No one is willing to take the time to LISTEN to each other anymore. It's always shouting and screaming at each other. It's saying that I'm right and you're wrong. It's calling each other names like "snowflakes," "Libtards," "idiots," "stupid," and more words that I dare not repeat on this blog. This nation has become less tolerant of differing opinions and agreeing to disagree. It's asserting that one way is the ONLY way things have to be without being open to compromise or having a choice to use several different options instead of the definitive answer. Perhaps that's my biggest wish for the next four years, or even beyond the upcoming election. It's not only listening to each other's opinions but also RESPECTING one another. It's not only agreeing to disagree but also treating each other as HUMAN BEINGS and not resort to childishness like name-calling every second chance you get. It's not only being tolerant of everyone but also having an OPEN MIND to the various races, ethnicities, religions, sexualities, and genders instead of having blinders on each side of your face. We've lost so much of those things and more, and it's not something to laugh about. In fact, it makes me cry just thinking about it. But I'm not here to tell you how to vote, or even who you should vote for. I believe that's a person's personal choice, and I can't change minds, no matter how hard I try. But what I hope to do in this part of the blog is to let you think about WHY it is important, necessary, even vital that you vote in this election. And the best way to do that is by sharing with you a monologue I wrote. I recently watched Childish Bambino's "This Is America" music video, and I was asked to write a monologue to the following question, "What is it like being an American right now?" Here's what I came up with. I hope you like it. Not the America I Remember What about sitting outside on our front porches in the afternoon? What about riding our bikes in broad daylight? What about walking to the grocery store or drug store without judgment? What about bird watching in the park in peace? What about going for a ride on a Sunday afternoon? What about jogging in the wee hours of the morning for our health? What about breathing in the fresh air on a regular basis? What about kindness? What about people helping other people? What about taking a stand for what we believe in and not be criticized for it? What about loving children for who they are and what they want to be? What about understanding one another? What about respecting lives, no matter how different they are? What about having a conversation without screaming or saying “you’re wrong!”? What about agreeing to disagree? What about being out and proud of who you are? What about having a wedding cake without any fear or religious preference? What about families staying together? What about people loving whoever they want, be they heterosexual, homosexual, non-binary, transgender, pansexual, or asexual? What about people going to church without getting shot at for believing in a higher power? What about going to school without fearing your child won’t come home again? What about people disagreeing over pizza toppings, and not civil rights? What about not treating mental health as taboo? What about women having rights over their bodies? What about the arts being essential? What about leaders being real leaders and not cowards? What about an anthem that respects the land and its people, and not just the flag? What about all cultures making a country great? What about making common sense great again? What about making love great again? What about making equality great again? What about making racial justice great again? What about making diversity great again? What about making leadership great again? What about making respecting one another great again? What about making justice great again? What about the strangers I pass by on the street? What about the people I’ve yet to meet?
What about my friends? What about my family? What about me?
We are so much better than we are now. We HAVE to be better than what we are now. Make it the America you want to remember. One that’s full of love, understanding, justice, respect, kindness, vision, creativity, open-mindedness, beauty, courage, racial equality, sexual equality, persistence, new ideas, new thoughts, new times, new hopes, and new dreams. It just takes a simple step. And then another. And then another. Go forward. Don’t look back. How do YOU want to remember America?
Why do I vote? The very questions I asked in the monologue are the very things we take for granted. And in these past four years, they've all been left at the wayside or completely disregarded. We can't allow that to continue. We can't say that kindness doesn't matter anymore. We can't say that actual leadership and common sense don't matter anymore. We can't say that agreeing to disagree doesn't matter anymore. We can't say that loving whoever they want, regardless of sexuality and gender, doesn't matter anymore. We can't say that the arts don't matter anymore. We can't say that mental health doesn't matter anymore. We can't say that helping others doesn't matter anymore. We can't say that diversity doesn't matter anymore. We can't say that respecting each other as human beings don't matter anymore. We can't say that racial justice doesn't matter anymore. We can't say that my family, friends, strangers, and the people I've yet to meet don't matter anymore. We can't say that I don't matter anymore. We can't keep on putting the qualities that we hold in high esteem on the back burner anymore. We can't keep doing this. We're so much better than this. As a nation, we HAVE to be better than this. It's time to place courage, love, vision, open-mindedness, kindness, compassion, hope, leadership, respect, equality, diversity, creativity, and intelligence at the forefront of what this nation represents again. These values and characteristics matter to me. This is why I vote. What about you? If you've already voted by mail, dropped your ballot in the dropbox, or voted prior to Election Day, great! You've done your civic duty and made a difference in hopefully putting what matters to you in choosing our next or continuing president. If you're planning to vote in person on Election Day, first and foremost, please stay safe. Stay six feet apart and WEAR A MASK!!!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough. We are still in the midst of a pandemic, and every single life matters. I don't want to hear about how people are getting sick after waiting hours in line to place their ballot. Next, be kind to each other. This has been a tumultuous four years for all of us, and the countdown to the election hasn't been necessarily a walk in the park, either. Don't be intimidated by people trying to get you to vote for the president, congresspeople, senator, and other individuals they like. Stick to your convictions, and if possible, remain silent. Don't get into a fight with those who have different political beliefs from yours. If possible, don't fight at all. Remember that we're all doing our duty to make our voices heard on the issues that matter to us, and we're all in this together. Even if we're on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Finally, remember why you're voting. It's essential that you research the topics each candidate stands for and what they're planning to do, but also look back on the past four years as a whole. Think about it for a second or even longer: are you happy about the direction the country is going? Are you being positively or negatively impacted by the policies this current administration has imposed on you? Are there issues that you feel strongly about that should be addressed for the next four years that weren't even talked about? Is there one thing or many things you want to see changed? Please do your civic duty prior to or on 3 November. GO VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!! (I'd like to stress once again that these are my observations and opinions on this heated topic, and you are welcome to agree to disagree with me on certain things I've written. But I won't stand people telling me "You're wrong!" or name-calling or anything of that sort. I WILL ask you to leave or even block you if you can't act like an adult. Politics is stressful enough to talk about as it is, and the last thing I need is people having a shouting match with one another without taking the time to listen to one another and respecting each other as human beings.) Now, you're probably wondering about my title again, and why there's a part 1 after it. That's because there will be a part 2 of this blog, and it will be discussing the aftermath of the election. I will be sharing my reactions and potential fears, hopes, and dreams for what the next four years will bring, no matter who wins the election. I will NOT tell you who I've voted for or any of my political beliefs. That is none of your business. This is your basic reflection on everything that's been going on this election season in an unpartisan-ly way, and I will be transparent, sincere, and kind. Let's face it - even in the darkest times, kindness DOES and ALWAYS WILL matter. Be on the lookout for part 2 at the end of the week. Now... GO VOTE!!!!!!!!!!