Confusion, division and progress

I want to say something meaningful, but I’m having some trouble finding my words. I don’t want to offend, but at the same time, I need to vent. We all face challenges like this. The wrong words at the wrong time drive anxiety and stress to grow, and that’s something (I hope) none of us want.

It’s a confusing time to say the least. The world is observing and reacting to the rule of a new President of the United States, and divisiveness is high. Many people feel left out and scared because of change in policies; others feel like their voices are finally being heard because they feel like no one has spoken for them for a while.

Both sides have a right to speak their minds, but the things being said are quite troubling. The divisiveness is coming from both sides. When someone speaks out and it hurts another person, that’s not right. Let me illustrate some examples of what I feel is making things worse.

A lot of folks on the more conservative side of the political spectrum feel like government is doing or has done too much in the past, especially in terms of laws about marriage, families and healthcare. They might feel that marriage should only be legal between a man and woman, or that adoption is only for married, straight families. Perhaps healthcare insurance should only be an option, not a right and not be a required purchase if not available through an employer.

Those persons on the liberal end of culture are more pro-government, believing that government mandates provide equal protections for all individuals and rights without restrictions. Marriage is open to all individuals regardless of gender or sexual identity. Families can be single- or multi-parent and adopt. Healthcare is a right for all persons. We have lived in a liberal-lead country for the past eight years; younger persons and millennials feel that this is the right direction to go in. The future is for a more liberal-minded thinking.

The more conservative-minded thinking comes from older and more rural individuals. These populations tend to feel neglected by the media or stay less connected to what is happening around the world and the advances of how things evolve. I’m not saying this is true of anyone and everyone in more rural areas, but if when a person is less in-touch with a digital, social culture like the people in more connected and populated areas, they might feel left out. What’s wrong with saying that is part of their own choice, that they could do more to be informed?

As a former teacher, I think we could all use a lesson on cultural awareness, social responsibility and defining and understanding credible sources. One of the hardest things to teach was helping middle and high school students look at a news or reference source and realize whether it was useful, beneficial, or relevant. It takes time, but it’s something everyone should know how to do. It’s not that we need to be taught how to believe, but what to believe, to know the difference between fact and opinion. Everyone should know or realize that there are no alternative facts, that it’s only the newly-minted replacement phrase for opinions.

There are things we all know but neglect to keep and hold as part of our belief systems. If you don’t have something nice to say, you know you should not say it. It’s not that you have to be politically correct, but if you call some retarded, you are going to offend someone else. The r-word is offensive because someone doesn’t choose to be that way, and they can’t easily change something they can’t control. The same goes for calling someone or something gay, for using offensive gender and racial terms, and so on.

We have reached a point in time where we all need to think before we act. It’s not an easy task to be ourselves, stand up for ourselves, and be responsible. We can all work harder each day toward empowering others, smiling, lending a helping hand, and choosing to be positive. We all have a right to speak our minds, but it will be all the better if what we say mends barriers and brings us together rather than divides us further. Granted, sometimes the truth will hurt, but if it isn’t constructive and it’s only for your gain and not to improve others, it’s probably not right.

*I am in the process of refining these thoughts and working diligently to understand thoughts from all people about the issue at hand. I know all people will never agree on all things. The important thing is that we listen, pay attention and work to live meaningful lives.

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