the state of our nation

I mowed the lawn today. I played outside with my daughter and watched a movie with my husband. I saw some friends. I wrote. I laughed. I enjoyed a truly delicious cookie. I read a book in my feather-soft bed. And I thought about the state of our nation.

The problem is: I don’t know what to think about the state of our nation.

With an abundance of information and misinformation spreading faster than it can possibly be absorbed, I feel bogged down by opinions. So bogged down, in fact, that I don’t always know what my own opinion is. Someone is always telling me what to think and everyone disagrees. I’m overwhelmed by constant political posts on social media, each disagreeing with the last, many claiming to be inclusive and willing to engage in friendly political discourse, and then quickly falling into political battle. (And do we really expect someone will emerge the victor?)

Every time I get online or turn on the TV, I have to suit up, to put on my metaphorical armor and prepare myself for the onslaught. Which friend will say something inflammatory today? Which will be cruel? Which will mock another for their beliefs? Which will shame their peers?

It’s a world I don’t want to be part of.

I don’t have all of the facts. I have pieces of information: the reactionary information carefully (or not) doled out by the media, the (unclassified) bread crumbs allotted by the government, (seriously) biased articles placed on Facebook acting as canon, but in truth, I have almost nothing at all. I try to remember this when I read this post from the left or that article from the right. I don’t know it all. I probably don’t know anything at all. So I do what I shouldn’t and I try (unsuccessfully) not to think about it at all.

Because I’m afraid to.

Because what if I’m wrong? What if my real thoughts ruin our friendship? What if I don’t know what I’m talking about? What if you don’t know what you’re talking? And, worst of all, what if I just wind up contributing to the problem?

So I don’t talk about it. Not much. Not unless I’m in the mood to be crucified. Instead, I make dinner. I dance in the kitchen with my family. I cuddle with my daughter. I work on my novel. I talk to my husband. I laugh with my sister. I sing “Mermaid” as a little one’s eyes close. I fold my hands as I lay in my feather-soft bed and I pray about the state of our nation.

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Better Together

I was sad when I voted the other day. I was disappointed in our options and disappointed in myself for not voting in the primaries. When I got to the polls, I was disappointed that my candidate wasn’t even listed on the ballot and in myself for not paying enough attention to local politics. I was sad then, but I’m brokenhearted today.

Not because Trump was elected president or Hillary wasn’t. Not because the media spewed more lies, more propaganda, and more nonsense than ever before. Not because you voted one way when I believed the other.

I’m brokenhearted because this election has shown me a side of my friends and family that I wish I hadn’t seen.

I’m frustrated because we’ve allowed this political circus to divide us. I’m heartsick because we’ve become hateful and accusatory. I’m concerned by our rhetoric, which has become bigly hyperbolic as everything is the end of times and complete American disaster and woe is us, the end is nigh! I’m annoyed because in the midst of chastising one another for our political views, for choosing a candidate who lies (when we all do), and looks out for themselves (when we all do), and says and does things they shouldn’t (when we all do), we spew hatred and call each other names and tell one another we should be ashamed of ourselves, which only serves to perpetuate the cycle of anger. Mostly though, I’m devastated that it seems we’ve forgotten to love one another.

Never have I seen the people I know so divided merely for having differences of opinion and beliefs.

Let me be clear here: I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.

I’m disappointed that we’ve allowed the government and (mostly) media to jerk us around like marionettes – tell us how and what and when to believe something. I’m disappointed that we can’t share our beliefs, our ideas, our opinions with each other without conversations erupting. I’m disappointed that some of us are too ashamed to speak only for fear of backlash from the people we love. What happened to respectful conversation? What’s happened to us, America? What’s happened to us, friends?

We’re better than this. I know we are. And it’s time to prove that we are. It’s time to stop blaming others, stop talking over each other, and stop naysaying. If we don’t give the media stories of hate and fear and anger, they can’t report them. So I say enough – enough violence and meanness and terror. Instead, let’s make waves because we’re kind and tolerant and accepting.

Let’s be so good that we’re boring – boring and happy and united.

And let’s remember that America has always been great – because we’re great – but we can make it even greater if we let go of our anger, accusations, and hatred. Let’s be better than the government we weren’t sure wanted (Or did! Whatever! No judgment!). Let’s be better for each other, for our country, and for our children.

And then maybe, just maybe, we can teach them – the next generation and a new group of voters –  to pick even better than we did, to be even better than we are.

It’s something worth working towards.

Bigly.