I don’t want to write this post. There is a part of me that would rather curl up under my blankets and let the noise die down if truth be told, but I can’t do that. In times like these, artists’ voices are more valuable than ever. Whether through words or music, artists can bring people together and I have never in my lifetime seen the need for unity more than I do now.
My home base is Orange County, California. This is the town in which I was raised. I remember in my high school years there were many times I felt like an outsider even though I always had a lot of friends. That feeling of “otherness” died down as I grew older and more sure of myself. But then, I opened up my facebook feed on Monday afternoon and those same feelings of otherness came rushing back to me. People I love without bounds took to social media to make their opinions known. Some used words that made me very uncomfortable. I don’t like name calling. Ever. I don’t think it helps anything. But there it was in front of my face. People passing judgement from all sides, people who I know and love. It all felt so very divisive. And just 24 hours ago when I read that the President of the United States was on twitter calling NFL athletes “sons of bitches” my jaw dropped. I thought, why isn’t he talking about other huge problems facing not only our country but our world instead of calling out professional athletes? I feel like he instigated the furor that is going on this very second.
Feeling confused, I called one of my closest friends whose perspective on the issue is vastly at odds with mine. You see, I am an empath by nature. My go to reaction to this kind of news is to listen to both sides of story and try to put myself in other people’s shoes. I see and respect the position of people who chose to take a knee to protest the inequality going on in America. I also see and respect the people who feel that the national anthem is sacred and should be about honoring those who fight in our armed forces. I understand both sides. My friend said she felt that it was wrong for anyone to take a knee during the national anthem and I didn’t get mad at her for her viewpoint. Instead, I listened. I was able to hear her without judging her and she was able to hear me. That comforted me. Because what we need right now is to come together, to listen, to ask gently and respectfully, “Why do you feel that way?” This is how we grow.
Another thought crossed my mind while we were speaking. What would I do if I were in that situation? And, why are these professional athletes basically being forced to choose sides by POTUS, who I wish would should sign off twitter immediately and permanently (he is the personification of an online bully from my perspective.) When I read an article about how the Cowboys and their owner took a knee before the national anthem as a way to communicate that their eyes were open to the injustices going on in our country, and then they stood and saluted the flag during the national anthem to honor our troops, I thought that was a beautiful. In my eyes, they appeared to be both giving respect to our flag and those who fight for it but also communicating that something needs to be done about the inequality in our great nation. Then I read the comments on the article. Yikes! Many commenters criticized their actions as well. It seems it is impossible to win in this situation. So I believe the only thing we can do is to listen and then respond with Love and Kindess.
It is my opinion that Trump is adding fuel to a fire rather than trying to create peace and I am not okay with it. I will never be okay with it. I have seen first hand how his online tantrums have created discord within the circle of my friends and family. My mother, an avid Trump supporter is at odds with most of her siblings because of differing political beliefs. And, the only reason my relationship with her is steady is because we have openly spoken about the fact we have hugely differeing perspectives but agree to love and respect eachother regardless of our disimilar belief systems.
So this is what I am praying for right now. That we all take the time to listen and then react in a loving, constructive way. Please attempt to be okay with perspectives that differ than your own. There is no right or wrong when it comes to situations like these. The people that stand, they have their reason. The people that kneel, they have their reason. Lets do our best to listen and to try to put ourseleves in other peoples shoes. The irony is, we all want the same thing. To be heard, to be seen, and to be acknowledged. I see you. I respect you. And I will not call you names regardless of your beliefs.
Lastly, I get called out for being “neutral” and “not taking a side.” I’ve had people say to me “if you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing.” To those people, I respond with this. My stance will always be to choose Love and Kindness. That is what I choose to stand for.