Sunday, November 13, 2016

Good At Heart?

I am not an outspoken political person. In fact, I do not follow politics closely most days.  I'm not saying that I don't have opinions, I do have opinions, strong ones in some cases. The election grabbed my attention this year, much more so than it ever has before.  And not because of my political views but because the behaviors that I saw displayed every day.  Behaviors that have been so unapologetic and extreme.

Here is the thing about me, while I don't closely follow politics... I closely follow people. People are the most interesting thing on this earth in my opinion.  I am constantly intrigued by what motivates a person to say and do things.  I seek to understand how they arrived where they are; their experiences, the cards that they were dealt in life. I studied English for my undergraduate degree and it taught me to observe the behaviors of characters to pick out themes, symbols, and tone. So naturally as the election activities started ramping up this year, my brain did as it typically does and tried to figure out why the population was leaning one way or another, why candidates said and did certain things, and why the media reported as it did.

I am a strong believer in things are not black and white.  As I have formed relationships and developed deeper understandings of my relationships, I have learned that nothing is simple.  Sure, we'd all like to think it is but in reality it is not.  For example a poverty stricken man who struggles to make ends meet each paycheck.  This does not imply to me that the man is stupid, or unmotivated, or a drug addict.  What this tells me is there a story behind how he arrived at this state. He may in fact be unmotivated or any of the negative things that some might assume but my experience is that he typically is not.  My experience tells me that some situation has led him to this place  not of his desire but happened regardless.  He lost his job.  He became ill.  He wasn't raised to think he could achieve more.  The list of possibilities could go on and on.  A similar example of a wealthy man with a full family doesn't imply to me happiness or great luck.  For all I know this man has struggled with addiction or worked so hard he barely sees his family.

I am not suggesting, though, that people not be accountable for the situation they are in.  People are dealt some tough cards in life and I do believe that life is what you make of it. Some will have to fight harder and others less so.  It doesn't make either a bad person.  It is just how the story goes.

Now that the election is over, I see a lot of friends and family taking to social media in support of their candidates win or in devastation over their candidate's loss.  I understand both sides have a perspective and that their personal experiences have led them to support or deny what has happened. Some of it has been so extreme and fueled with hate, it is hard to watch and read. It has been hard on me to see people act this way, people that I care about. I struggle with anyone invalidating how someone else feels and I see it over and over.

I see Trump supporters saying, "stop being sniveling babies about the loss!" and I see Clinton supporters saying, " I am afraid of half of America"

I see Clinton supporters saying, "half of America is racist!" and I see Clinton supporters saying, "it's not about race, it is about change!"

And those are the nice comments.

In my opinion everyone is right and wrong all at the same time.  What is right for one, is wrong for the other.  And that is what makes us unique.  I see no reason for me to persuade or argue with how some feels, it would be like invalidating their experiences in life which are completely valid.

No one can deny you your experiences unless you let them.  The only thing people can do is limit their exposure to you should you offend them.  I am personally not offended because someone has a different point of view, I am offended when they make assumptions about who I am or attack my point of views.  And I don't feel the need to explain who I am to everyone. I save that for those that I love and trust.

I suppose what has been reiterated to me yet again is that we really do choose how we want to respond to life.  We can see only the negative.  We can embrace the positive.  We can reach out to others. We can become sad and depressed.  We can ignite and show passion. We can be reckless and arrogant. It is all up to us on how we respond to the hand we are dealt.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is one of my favorite books. I can only hope Frank was truth telling when she wrote,

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

― Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

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