We’re So Much Stronger When We’re Together

@karly.valencia / Twenty20.com
@karly.valencia / Twenty20.com

In a world filled with Kanye v. Taylor and Hillary v. Donald, it’s clear that disagreement is a systematic function of human interaction. It may be perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of human relationships. Is there always a clear right and wrong? If so, what standard do we use to declare the winner? Is it by measure of moral code, overall common sense, the law? Don’t we all live by our own personal value system? Maybe therein lies the root of the problem.

Have you ever found yourself saying, “[insert name here] is absolutely INSANE! What are they thinking?!” That bang-your-head-against-the-wall, pull-out-your-hair type of irritation? I’d venture to guess many of you have felt this way over the past week.

You, my friend, have been the victim of an opposing perception. These are the disagreements that break friendships, end romances, divide a country, and start international conflict. It all comes down to I think this is what we should do, and you think we should do something else, and you better back down because you’re 100% in the wrong!

You can’t argue that the sky is blue to someone who is color blind. When others see the world differently than you do, do you acknowledge it or continue to force your opinion as absolute? There is no convincing that can be done. It’s like trying to solve the same math problem but with a different set of numbers.

Those who are less open to others’ perspectives tend to be stubborn and can run the risk of creating a very lonely and one-sided reality. It takes a sense of awareness, empathy, and maturity to truly respect that someone can be in the exact same situation as you yet feel a completely different way about it. 

I think this is so frustrating because we are a culture of emphasizing the presence of right and wrong from a young age. If you didn’t share in kindergarten you got a time-out. As an adult, if you break the law you pay a fine or go to jail. Shouldn’t every matter of opinion be this black and white? That would make life so simple, wouldn’t it? As Americans, we share both the high privilege and extreme hardship that is the right to exercise independent thought.

It pains me to even bring up the election and the corresponding reactions of the American people throughout this past week. Speaking of time-outs I think we all could use one. The election is the last thing I want to think or talk about. As an American, isn’t that sad?

Can you blame me? I’ve gotten my daily fill via angry Facebook rants from people I never knew could be so cold. From people I consider friends. From people I know are different than me, but whom I respect. From people I know are better than this. Cue a hate-filled spiral that we’ve all found ourselves trapped in with no escape. It is truly disheartening to see the negative backlash that has surfaced in direct response to this single act. The single act that Americans pride themselves on the ability to exercise the most. The right to vote.

During my quick stint acquiring a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, I was required to take a class that focused solely on identifying personal bias. I guess you can’t give sound advice to others without having a true “come-to-Jesus” with your own personal belief system. This is one of those classes (along with Tax and Mortgage 101) that would be truly beneficial for all young adults to take—perhaps in the place of Calculus or Physics, both of which ruined my life, neither of which have come in handy in the ‘real world.’

Here’s how I feel about all of this. I’m not pushing MY beliefs on others but wishing we could all respect each other more and find some middle ground:

I have empathy for those feeling anger, sadness, outrage, and fear over the election results. I also feel joy for those who feel that their voice was heard and honored. I acknowledge that everyone has sound reasoning for the way that they are feeling right now, no matter their political affiliation.

I wish we could take a step back and respect each other’s story, experiences, and unique attributes that make us individuals. Have you heard the phrase, “you can’t judge a book by its cover?” Does someone’s voting choice automatically label them a racist, bigot, uneducated, or not worthy of having a valued opinion? In my eyes, every American has the right to vote (or not vote) for the candidate that they feel will serve them best. No other American has the right to invalidate that very personal choice.

This is not a free pass to assassinate the character of every person who feels differently than you just because you can’t relate to their reasoning. I think we can all agree that what’s written on the pages of my story are so much different than the pages in yours. Maybe you’ve had one experience in your life that particularly spoke to you when deciding in this election. Maybe you couldn’t make up your mind so you just didn’t vote, or you voted for an independent candidate instead. Should you be bullied and feel ashamed for feeling that way and making that choice? If we pass judgement on others’ character because they see the world differently than us, what kind of an American does that make us?

So for those spreading hate as a mechanism to cope with your sadness and frustration at this election, please think twice. Jumping to quick conclusions, generalizing groups of people with opposing perspectives, and discrediting their ability to make an informed decision is the biggest disservice you can do for yourself as an American.

I propose that we come find a way to unite in all of our beautiful, mad, passionate, contradicting mindsets. That’s who America is. We challenge one another for the better, not worse. If something’s broken, we, out of anyone, can fix it. We’re the best. Let’s prove America is great again. We’re so much stronger when we’re together. TC mark

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