People often ask me why I have become so vocal on my opinions during this Presidential Election. If I’m being completely honest, I rarely ever have a good answer. I have yet to be able to put my feelings into words.
Until this morning.
I share my opinions because it matters. I speak out against what I perceive as injustice because it matters. I stand up for what I believe in because it matters.
As Alexander Hamilton said, “Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.”
I was raised to be tenacious and independent. My parents taught me to stand up and to speak out for what I believed in, no matter who disagreed. (I’m convinced every day that they regret this, as I am always the most persistent and opinionated person in the room.)
I was raised in a Baptist church that taught love, grace, and mercy to ALL people. These were the principles that became the foundations of my life. We strive to love people the way that Jesus does.
I was raised around people who were all my heroes. I looked up to these people because they embodied everything that I wanted to be as an adult. These people were successful, and respected. They were compassionate and strong.
This morning I woke up to a video, as is the daily procedure these days, concerning the election. I watched the video, and teared up. I got a lump in my throat, a lump that I still have while writing this. Yes, it was a clip of Donald Trump.
I am a 19 year old college student, not a 70 year old “businessman”. I haven’t met as many people, or traveled to as many places as Donald Trump. However, I truly believe that I have managed to gain more insight, and more of the crucial life experiences that are necessary in order to be a knowledgable, all-in citizen of this world.
When I was in high school I went to GSP. This is a program that teaches high school juniors about themselves and others. While there, we participated in activities that forced you to determine your opinion on serious social issues, such as the death penalty, gay marriage, and abortion. When you stated your opinion, you had to have your own reasoning. “That’s what your parents believed”, or “that’s what you’ve always known”, wasn’t good enough. While there, I was also verbally and mentally attacked for being a Christian. Take a guess as to who came to my rescue when I felt that I could no longer defend myself? My muslim friend Sami. We chose to be supportive, and to defend one another because we had enough respect for each other to allow a friendship to grow. He taught me, and I taught him. Our perspectives changed, and so did we.
Once I got to college I was selected to participate in the Leadership Development Program. This program was built around workshops, similar to the ones at GSP. They forced us to isolate our differences, and discuss them in an open environment. We shattered stereotypes among ourselves. This allowed our entire worldview to shift.
These experiences that I have under my belt, have taught me the most important lesson in our world today. The lesson is that all people will have different experiences than you. No one is exactly the same. This will cause your perspectives to be different. This will cause you to not see the world exactly the same as they do. We must have empathy. We must be open-minded. We must show respect to others. We must be willing to openly and deeply discuss our views without changing the subject, or arguing.
This election has shown me what the people in my life are truly like, whether that’s good or bad. I now know what the people in my life value, and are truly passionate about.
When it comes to Donald Trump, I wish that weren’t the case. I have seen people from my church support a man solely because he’s a Republican and we’re from Kentucky. They have thrown those foundations of love and grace out the window. There is not love, nor grace, nor mercy for ALL people. Only the people who look, think, and act like they do. It’s unfortunate that I feel as if I can no longer even attend a service, or look up to these people, because I now know what these “Christians” believe and stand for. It’s not love. Donald Trump loves no one but himself. He has attacked countless groups of people, physically and verbally. He has said that he does NOT ever bring God into the picture of his life. I know some say to “vote for the platform”. But there is a major issue when the leader of the Republican party does not agree with almost anything on that party platform.
Did you know that Donald Trump has changed political parties six times since 1987? This shows me that he has no foundation of beliefs for his life. He changes to get what he wants. After all, that’s “good business”. Did you know that he has donated more money to Democratic candidates than Republican candidates? Did you know that he said that he won Nevada because of the “uneducated”? Did you know that he said his favorite modern President was Bill Clinton? Did you know that his first wife accused him of rape and he settled? Did you know that four of his businesses have filed for bankruptcy? This is just scratching the surface. He is dirty. He is a liar. He does not care about working people, or anyone but himself and those just like him. Do not let him fool you.
He says that his attacks are just verbal, but words lead to actions, and he has already acted on some fronts. But even if words did not lead to actions, are we going to validate the words that he’s said. Are we going to show our children, and future generations that this is the kind of America, the kind of people, the kind of Christians that we want to be?
I know Hillary has some scandals, and some mistakes under her belt as well. But once she makes them, she apologizes and moves on. She never makes the same mistake twice. Donald Trump never sincerely apologizes, he attacks people to distract from his own inability to be a leader. That is what children do. I know, because I did it with my brother when we were in trouble in order to distract my parents from what I did. However, true, effective, good leadership is about strengthening people. It’s about lifting people up to the point where they can achieve great things.
There are people in my life who are blindly supporting Donald. I say blindly because they refuse to participate in the political process. They refuse to watch debates, or fact check, or educate themselves on the issues. They vote Republican because that’s what they’ve always done. The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over, and expecting a different result. Change is not an option. How we react to change is the only thing that is optional. Everyone around me is adamant that they “want change”. However, when that change starts to occur, they realize that their lives will never be the same. They retreat to their comfort zones, where they’re safe, and where they’re correct.
Change will not happen unless we are willing to step out of our comfort zones. It will not happen unless we speak out on what we believe in. Last year I learned to never settle, we must never settle for less than what we want. If we want change, we must make it happen, if not for ourselves, then for the future.
Ten years from now I will be married, and will hopefully have a baby or two. I will teach them to be passionate, and independent. I will teach them to always question the majority. They will love others the way that Jesus does. They will accept people no matter their background, gender, or any other defining factor. They will hate no one. They will show love in their actions, not just their words. They will be educated, and will be encouraged to ask why because their opinions matter. Their voices matter. Their feelings matter. I will not validate cruel words in front of them by supporting people like the Republican nominee. I will not allow them to use people to achieve what they want. They will be honest. They will be hard-working. They will be compassionate to everyone they meet. They will learn from other people, places, and cultures. They will have integrity. My sons will not grow up to be like Donald Trump. My daughters will not grow up thinking that they need to marry a man like Donald Trump. My children will not believe that it is normal, or good, or decent to act the way that Donald acts.
This is a pivotal point in my life, and in our country. The world is watching. History has its eyes on us. In order to form a more perfect union, we must do what we’ve never done. We must be willing to embrace empathy. If we want to live in a Christian nation, we must embrace the principles that The Bible teaches. We must come to the realization that everyone needs Jesus, and to some people, we are the only Jesus they will ever see. We must realize that we are no better than anyone else in this world. We are all equal. We will always be equal.
I hope this offends you. I hope this post forces you to look at your words, thoughts, and actions and to determine whether or not you’re being the kind of person, and role model that you want to be. I promise that someone is watching you. Even if you don’t agree with me politically, we can all agree that being a good person is more important that being correct. We can agree that all people have feelings and that those feelings are valid. Understand that life is not about being right, it’s about doing good. I hope this encourages you, or pushes you, to evaluate your beliefs, and to educate yourselves deeply. I hope that you interact with someone or something that shifts your perspective. The world needs more well-rounded people.
The world needs people who will stand up for what they believe in, and people who will never settle for less than what they feel is right.