Where do I, you- -but more importantly- -WE go from here?

Where do I, you — but more importantly — WE go from here? Because at the end of the day it is about we as a community, as a nation. I am lucky enough to have a very diverse group of friends who are diverse in color as they are in religion, thought, and political party. But right now, myself included, feel this election has divided everyone into two categories. Either you are with me or you aren’t. Either you are with my liberal views or you are not. Either you are with my conservative views or you are not. Either you supported Clinton with me and believe Trump is a piece of crap; or you support Trump and think he will MAGA and Clinton was a horrible person.

Regardless of what you think or who you voted for, we cannot continue along this path as a nation. We have become a nation that is more worried about our political parties than we are about our neighbor. I am guilty of this myself. I would always speak to the neighbor to the right of me when I would see them. When the wife of the neighbor went to the hospital, in an ambulance, I made sure to give them my contact information in case they needed help with the kids. I have asked the sons about watching my dog if I got one….

Well, that was until the night of the election and I saw Trump and McCrory signs in their yard. From that point they were dead to me. Their stance was known, and it wasn’t one that I agreed with. From that point on we haven’t made eye contact. We haven’t acknowledged each other’s existence. What happened?? The election happened. The election didn’t just change our presidential status, it changed our relationships — both close and superficial. Our community has changed. We now walk around with a wall around us until we see you are on our “side”. We walk around ready to defend, argue, explain, or ignore.

We have become divided: by our president, our views on race, sexuality, religion, immigration, and money. We have lost our humanity and our ability to see people as people but instead as projections of our views. People see a same- sex couple and instead of seeming them as someone who is in love, they seem them as a factor against their religion. They know of someone undocumented, and instead of seeing them as people who want the same opportunities we want, they are seen as either lazy and living off the government, or as stealing jobs. There is no in between. When we hear about religion, we either think of “religious freedom” or the Muslims who are radical. They aren’t seen as people who are just like you, but pray to a different God.

At some point we have to find a way to move on. To be able to look at people as people, and not a projection of our views. We have to find a way to have conversations about the things that we need to have conversations about in an effective way, not to change views, but to understand views. I want to understand why you think that about immigrants, forgetting that we are all immigrants unless you are Native American. I want to understand why you think your religious freedom allows you to discriminate against a same sex couple who you will never meet. I want to understand why you think race is not an issue or that it only started being an issue when Obama was President; when racism has affected us for over 400 years through slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation. I want to understand your views on these hot topics. Because we never know where these conversations might lead to if we never have them.

We HAVE to be able to have these conversations, as uncomfortable as they are. We have to. It is tough, I get that. Knowing a friend of yours has a view that you feel either discriminates against your religion or your sexuality. I get it. You have a friend that voted for Clinton knowing what her husband did, the bills he signed into laws that affected marginalized groups, the emails she sent. I get that. I know you have a friend that voted for Trump and who still thinks he will get his act together and will do amazing things regardless of the chaos he has caused. I get it. But here is the thing. You can ignore them, but what they think probably won’t change, it actually might make it worse because you have proven you are a conservative/liberal who won’t listen to anyone that doesn’t have your view. DO NOT DO THAT. Listen to them. Some of what they think or feel might make sense, or it might make you understand more about where they are coming from.

Man, we have to find a direction to start heading in that will positively affect everyone, not just you and your views. We talk about ourselves as a nation but look at our views individually. As long as both sides are unwilling to budge we will not be able to move forward to make our country great… For the first time. We will stay on our side and only look at the other side in disgust. We can’t stay this divided.

Yes, I fully understand that there are people you cannot have conversations with. People who are so embedded in their thought of what is right and wrong, real and fake, true or not true that that you can’t meet on a common ground. I understand that. Leave those people alone. When everyone else gets going in the right direction they will have no choice but to fall in line.

Here are some of my ideas of how we can start in a positive direction:

  1. Read the views of those who oppose your view. I know it will be painful but do it because you can’t have a conversation without knowing where they are coming from
  2. Find common ground. We all share something in common with another person of different views. Find that. You will be amazed at what similarities you have together
  3. Put down your guard just a little. Don’t go into situations where you automatically think someone is a Trump or Clinton supporter. You will be surprised; I know I have been.
  4. Stay patient in our conversation. Believe in the ability of humanity and commonality to change things. It will I fully believe.

Doing these things won’t change opinions, but looking for common ground will start the patient conversation of hearing views and possibly changing views. We expect that views will change overnight, and that is not realistic. They are changed over time. If you have the patient conversation with people who have different views who knows what will conversation grow from that conversation. But we have to be willing to have the conversation first.

Stay patient my friends. We have no other option but to.