As we leave behind Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and approach Black History Month, I’m reminded of how much I learned at my visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Site.
The hardest part for me is Principle Three: to think of the “other side” as ideas instead of people. Don’t hate the people. Hate their ideas. Their way of thinking. And change it. I’ve admittedly been so angry and sad at what’s happening on the other side. Why can’t “they” just do their thing and leave the rest of us alone? I don’t care if you want to be a religious freak…but I’m sure as hell not gonna be one. We’ve had different life experiences and you do you and I’m gonna do me. I feel that that is a big difference in our “two” sides (actually, there are many sides, but for the sake of argument…). In fact, I’m fighting for you to have the right to believe in your weird shit. But I’m also fighting for me to have the right not to believe it. But I feel like you think you’re the only right answer and only care about making me believe your weird shit. And I get Real. Pissed.
And another thing I don’t get: just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If you outlaw abortion? They will still happen. If you deport illegal immigrants? They will still be here. If you refuse to make a gay wedding cake? Gay people will still exist. If you outlaw contraception? Women will still get pregnant by men. If you don’t care that black people are wrongly killed by police? They will still be here, getting killed and being pissed off about it. If you hate Muslim people? They will still exist in America. If you hate liberals? We. Are. Still. Here. If you hate conservatives? They. Are. Still. Here.
The truth? We are going to have to come together and figure this out. One way or another. We are going to have to get a little, you’re going to have to get a little…we will have to give a little and you’re going to have to give a little…and we must learn to co-exist. We must learn to respect one another. All religions. All colors. All genders. All sexual orientations. All…everything. As Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King taught, we must treat each other with love, with compassion, with empathy, and with SO MUCH LOVE. We’re all retreating into our own camps, with our like-minded people, our tribes. I’m a white person living in a white neighborhood, sending my kids to a white school, attending a white church. I’ve had to go out of my way to meet people of color, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, immigrants, etc. because I realized that we all hole up with people like us. And I’ve learned a lot and my life is richer for knowing people with different life experiences from myself. It doesn’t take away from my life experience; it adds to it.
So today, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Reach out to someone you know nothing about. Find out what their life experience is. Put yourself in their position.
Correct me if I’m wrong, evangelicals. Please. If you voted for POTUS, please let me know if you believe in my right to be me. Please let me know if you disagree with him or are disappointed in him.
Additionally, let me know ANYTHING ELSE that I might be surprised about you. Are there other misconceptions I might have? Here are some about me: 1. I think that we could work on improving our border security. (But not a dumb-ass wall.) 2. I hate the thought of abortion. (But I’m not going to decide for someone else what they should do with their body and their life.) 3. I love men. They are some of my favorite people. They are a vital part of our society. (But I am a feminist.) 4. I love God and my church and my faith is a big part of how I live my life. (But I love people of all religions and atheists and respect their life decisions.)
These are my thoughts as we embark on another insane political year in this crazy, wonderful, bizarre, beautiful, fucked-up, awesome country of ours. May we find a way to co-exist and respect each other. May we stand strong against taking rights away from anyone. May we stand tall for justice, freedom, and equality for all. May we find more love in our hearts, compassion for those who are not like us, and a way to stay our United States of America.
Take care of yourselves and each other,