“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
– Bryant H. McGill
So, here’s the thing. I have a little favor to ask of you, my fellow Americans. It’s not much. Just a tiny little thing you might be able to do for me.
STOP MINIMIZING OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS.
Seriously, y’all. Stop it. Now.
What does that mean? you ask. “Minimizing other people’s feelings?” Valid question. So here, let me give you a few examples:
“It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Get over it.”
If I had a dollar for every variation of those I’ve seen in the past 24 hours, I’d have enough money to advance to the presidency myself.
Here’s the deal. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, okay? Ready?
We don’t give a shit who the president of the United States is.
Yup, there it is. I said it.
Is that not very patriotic of me? Eh, maybe not. But it’s the friggin truth. Are we going to be inviting him over for dinner? Is he going to be babysitting our kids? Giving us marriage advice? Exchanging presents with us on Christmas Eve?
No. He is nothing to us.
WE DON’T CARE.
But here’s what we do care about.
How the rhetoric and example of the person in the highest, utmost position of honor in our country is going to trickle down to the people we are around every day.
Think it doesn’t really matter?
Yesterday, kids all over America asked to stay home from school. I know, because mine was one of them. Were they overreacting? Making a big deal out of nothing? I don’t know. You tell me.
“I turned out the lights on my third graders at 7:38. They come in my room at 7:35. They were arguing about the election within minutes of walking in my room. I turned out the lights and told them that the election was not going to change how we treated each other and we would not be discussing it. They are eight years old. My class doesn’t fight. They were yelling at each other. If kids are acting this way, how far will adults go?”
These are the words from a THIRD GRADE teacher in our small, rural town in North Carolina today.
A facebook status from a concerned friend of adoptive parents:
“So, I’ve been holding this in all day but would like to share it with you now. A friend of mine and his wife have an adopted son from Central America. He came home scared and confused from school yesterday and said that some kid told him that if Trump wins the election then would be sent back to Mexico. My friends had not discussed Trumps policies with their son so this idea was coming straight from others. Connect the dots. This is simple and basic and real. It’s not some media pundit taking up air time. This is our America and it pisses me off. If you think this a problem in our society and would like to discuss how we can fix it then I welcome your thoughts. If you don’t recognize this as a problem then you are part of the problem…”
Again. Right here in Nowhere, North Carolina.
Or better yet. Here. How about this one?
“’Yes, sweet boy, God loves you. I love you too.”’
A co-worker whispered these words in answer to a sobbing student today. A student who was born in America, just like my girls. A student who takes care of his siblings and takes on more responsibility on his shoulders than my girls have ever known.
This student walked into his school today to taunting, “You’re going to be sent back to Mexico.” He buried his scared, hurt face in his teacher’s shoulder, and we found a safe place for him to cry. Through my own tears I said, “Find the good people to hang out with today. There is bad, but there are always good people.” And I prayed in my heart, please God, keep letting the good show up.”
That was a middle-school teacher in our same little rural town.
“Please God, keep letting the good show up.”
We are in the middle of nowhere, people. Obama, Trump, Hillary…those people are never going to step foot in this little town that is so far off of an interstate we barely know how to tell people to get to one. We don’t care which one of them is sitting in the oval office at any given time. We really don’t.
THIS is what we care about.
If you think this election doesn’t affect every single person walking across this land we call home, you are sadly mistaken. If you are one that can just shrug it off and go about your business and not let it affect you – hallelujah. Good for you. I’d trade places with you in a heartbeat.
But I’m not.
These parents aren’t.
These teachers aren’t.
These students aren’t.
We are in pain, people. Our country is broken. Our hearts are broken. For lack of a more eloquent term, we are treating each other like shit.
And that hurts.
Some of us cry. Some of us rage. Some of us become smartasses. Some of us hide, some of us fight. We all have different ways of dealing with our emotions, but the underlying emotion remains the same.
We are scared. We are petrified. We don’t know what is happening to us because most of us haven’t lived through something like this. This is new to us. Those of us under a certain age don’t remember segregation. Stories of the Holocaust are just stories in a history book. Same with stories of the misplaced Indians (well, unless you’re paying attention to the non-front-page headlines these days). We read those stories and we try to empathize but we weren’t there. We don’t understand it.
But when we see a little Mexican boy crying because his peers are telling him he’s going to be deported to a country he has never even seen?
Yeah. Suddenly, it’s real. We feel that.
If you don’t feel it, if you don’t have to experience it, if you’re not around the people who are acting like this – good for you. Really, good for you. I’m happy for you. I hope the rest of the world catches up to the utopia you’re surrounded by.
But for the rest of us out here?
This is very real.
We are hurting. We are scared.
And we deserve your respect.