This election was a big one, to say the least, and the one thing that I’m sure everyone can agree on is that it hit a nerve in each and every one of us. Unfortunately, political campaigns often stress the weaknesses of other candidates and it seems as though this emphasis on putting the other candidate down has been even more prevalent during this election. This election has been an emotionally draining process, regardless of which candidate you voted for, but it is important to note that the emotions, opinions and discussions should not end now that the election is over.
Throughout this election, I have heard numerous perspectives regarding our President-elect, and for that I am lucky. I think people often forget that we live in a country where we are blessed with the opportunity to share our beliefs. It is a privilege that every individual has voice. It is very easy for us to get lost in the chaos and swallowed by emotion, and this sometimes leads us to forget that we owe it to everyone to at least listen. This does not mean that our emotions don’t matter. In fact, it is the opposite. Precisely because our emotions, beliefs, and voices matter, we must listen to others. We cannot expect to be heard if we are not willing to listen to others ourselves.
I have heard the voices of those who believe that this presidency will be a great thing because our economy will grow. I have heard that this presidency will be a horrible thing because we will only take steps backwards and our progress, specifically regarding social justice, will count for nothing. I’ve heard that it is a good thing that we have a business man in office because he will provide a new diverse perspective on how we run this country and it goes to show that everyone, regardless of your background, has an equal opportunity here in America. I have also heard people say that we need a person in office who has had previous government experience. I have heard people who are strongly pro-choice and I have heard people who are strongly pro-life. I have heard arguments from those who are influenced heavily by their religion and others who are not. I have heard the voices from both men and women. I have heard people say that they want us to have our first woman president and I’ve heard people say that, while it is great that we have progressed into a world where we have the opportunity to vote for a female president, now is not the time. But, while it is great that I was able to hear opinions from all across the board, I think the most important thing is that I heard at all. I listened. I wanted to know more. When I did make the choice to talk about the election, I asked people about the pros of their candidate. I wanted to get out of this vortex of negativity because I did not want to hear about all of the cons about the opposing candidate.
For some, it is a challenge to come to terms with the results of the election and for others this win is a step in the right direction. But, regardless of your beliefs, we first must acknowledge the fact that Donald Trump secured the necessary 270 votes within the Electoral College, despite losing the national popular vote. What matters is what we do now. From his win, what are the pros and cons? Let’s have a discussion. In fact, let’s have numerous discussions. We cannot move forward by remaining stagnant. We can no longer place blame or hate our country and the people that live in it. We must educate ourselves about the issues at hand. Most importantly, we must listen and we must empathize. Although I cannot say that we are more similar than we are different, I would like to believe that we can connect with each other on more levels than we know.
It truly saddens me to see our people so divided. It pains me to hear that some people feel silenced. We don’t need to accept others opinions, but we do need to listen to them. We must accept the fact that everyone deserves a basic level of respect. We have all been through many different experiences, but let us use those experiences to bring us together rather than tear us apart. Relationships are the most important thing we have. So do not isolate yourself. This change we are making revolves around listening to others.
My theory is that people hate what they don’t understand and when conversations get tough, it is much easier to avoid talking than to calmly have a rational discussion. Unfortunately, conversations morph into heated monologues and, once again, the conversations end leaving people more opinionated than before and less willing to empathize and listen because they themselves were not granted the opportunity to speak their minds in the first place. So I urge you all to take a deep breath and just listen when someone has something to say. America is rooted in the Constitution and, as I’m sure many of you know, it begins with, “We, the people of the United States…” We may not always agree, but we are all human. We are all people who want to be heard. We want to progress towards a better America. Therefore, we must listen to others, assume responsibility and come together in order to better ourselves as a nation.