My hope for my country, now that the 2016 election in the United States is over, is really quite simple: conversation.
I am addressing everyone with this plea – Democrats, Republicans, every third party member, every person involved in a movement, and every independent. We need to stop shutting conversations down with insults and labels. Examples: by being pro-life, someone is not against women; by wanting tighter gun restrictions, someone is not mambi pambi. Being human, and, therefore, limited, we seem to find living life easier when we put people in little boxes. But, that’s not freedom. We can’t box up people to make our lives easier. We need to find a way to understand where each of us is coming from and how we can move forward, peacefully, together.
Did I call my hope simple? Well, it is. But, also complex and profound.
What a National Conversation Means
After all of the competition, conflict, and insults in this campaign, we need healing. As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” If we are going to remain the United States of America, then people who disagree must be able to enter into open, honest conversation with one another, truly trying to listen to what each other understands as true. We must speak the truth that we understand from our hearts – and then truly listen as people on the other side of the discussion speak from their hearts. True respect of others doesn’t denigrate or dismiss – it sees other human beings for what they are: human beings. We are all vulnerable and we are all fallible. With this humility, we can have honest and even loving conversations. Discovering the hopes and fears of others and, in this discovery, establishing common ground, we can find ways to work peacefully together for the common good.
Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me
We cannot let our passions get the better of us. This is true in each of our own personal lives, when we are daily deciding what we should do, what direction we should take. “If it feels good, do it” is not a recipe for lasting joy and full-life satisfaction, but, rather, for the bottomless pit of self-indulgence. Selflessness, generosity, virtue, real love – these are the things that make us good people and make our lives good, as well. Controlling our passions and desires for self-indulgence is also central to honest conversation.
Insults and name-calling hurt – plain and simple. We know this. Being overrun with emotions and anger can cause us to silence people’s opposition to our beliefs by calling them names, thus shutting down conversation. Without an environment where people feel free to speak from their hearts, we can’t have understanding. And please hear this: having an understanding of opposing opinions does not mean concluding that those who hold those opinions are less educated, less patriotic, or less loving then we are. Without a sense of compassion for those who disagree with us, we will forget that we are all human – the key to understanding – and we will never be a truly peaceful, secure, and happy people.
This is important to note: compassion does not mean self-righteous pity, a kind of looking down our noses at those whom we deem ignorant or immoral. Compassion means “suffering with” – we are all in this life together. My daily life is different than your daily life. I don’t know many of the things that you know and you don’t know some of the things that I know. But, our differences don’t make us any less human or any less deserving to be heard and understood.
I am not always a person who speaks reasonably and compassionately. (My loved ones are not shocked by this confession.) With my closest family members, especially those who agree with me, I have a tendency to be cynical and make cracking remarks about “the other side” of an issue that’s important to me/us. And, for a moment, the anger gives me a kind of pleasure or adrenaline rush, and I feel very pleased by my wit. But, it doesn’t last, because I know that I will never be able to bring about the change that I desire by being crass, cutting, and uncompassionate. I want to live my life for the good. Wisdom means something. Forgiveness and forbearance cannot be forgotten. Reasoning must be reached through loving.
Later, look for a post about a specific subjects dividing our nation – ones which I will write about from my heart. Until then, thank you, as always, for reflecting with me.
© 2016 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.