Source: The hatred must stop — Medium
My friend Charlene posted this the other day on FB.
Something strange has been happening in our country. As Presidential campaigns have progressed, both passion and emotion have been running high. This is normally part of the process and and is usually a good thing. It’s healthy to have citizens actively engaged in the political process. We want people to care, express their thoughts, priorities and challenges. As an elected official, I love to hear what’s on people’s minds. But this year, something different is happening.
Over the course of this election season we have seen more hateful stereotypes and judgments than I have seen at any time in my life. We’ve seen hate directed at Muslims. We’ve seen hate directed at African Americans. We’ve seen women get disrespected. We’ve seen the disabled get mocked. We’ve seen bills going through states that target gay, lesbian and transgender citizens. We’ve seen immigrants repeatedly demonized. If you can think of a particular group of people that’s not white males, chances are, they’ve had an unprecedented level of disdain and spite thrown their way.
Our country was founded on the principle of freedom. We have a history of fighting wars both physical and verbal to grant liberties to sects of society that were not originally granted them. While we have certainly made our fair share of mistakes and ugly missteps along the way, we have always worked to correct the course and move forward for the greater good.
There are things happening this year however that I cannot make sense of. How are we (in 2016) seeing society turn its back on the progress that we have made? How is it becoming acceptable to hate entire groups of people because of their faith? How is it becoming acceptable to suggest that we place twenty percent of the world’s population under government surveillance, based on their religion? How is it becoming acceptable to say, “we don’t want you here?” Who are we , anyway?
I don’t know about you, but I always had a tremendous amount of pride in America when I was growing up. When I learned our country’s history in school I was proud of the fact that we fought for our own independence. I was proud of the fact that we founded our country on liberty and enlightenment, setting an example for the rest of the world. I was proud of the fact that when push came to shove, we went to war to hold our country together and end slavery. I was proud of the fact that we have always been a cultural melting pot. And I still am.
We have always been a country that says, “Come join us. We want you here. We want to share our ideas. There is opportunity for you here. You can worship as you want to here. You and your family can be safe here. You can contribute here. You can be who you want to be here.” That welcoming spirit of acceptance makes us who we are.
As a country, we cannot abandon that principle. We must remain a free, open minded society. That is what makes America great. It’s not the strength of the dollar, the English language or the fact that we have a red, white and blue flag. It’s the fact that America is a sum of its parts, where we all bring something unique to the table.
The reality is that human history is plagued by ugly moments. But haven’t we learned from our past? Haven’t we learned that spite, hatred and stereotyping get us no where? We have to be better than what we are displaying right now. We have to maintain our open arms. We have to continue believing in both ourselves and others. We have to stay true to the principles that define us.
In closing, I would like to issue a challenge. I challenge every single person living in this country to work together for the common good. I challenge every single American, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation to build a country that is greater than we have ever seen. I challenge each and every one of you to put aside these divisive lines in the sand and learn to love your neighbor, overcome the problems that we face and rise to levels that we never knew existed. It can be done. We just have to believe in ourselves enough to do it.