Your Right To Choose

For the past two days I have been overflowing with words and ideas to bring to the table in this post. I have been frustrated and upset. I have been hopeful. These past few weeks have not been easy. I have felt like I’m screaming in a crowded room and no one can hear me.

I have watched people I know be hurt, harassed, and worse. I have heard horror stories from across the nation. I am watching families be torn apart, friends deciding not to speak.

I have seen more immaturity from adults in my life than I ever thought was possible. I have seen hate, both in speech and actions, become more prominent than it has ever been in my lifetime.

And I have no idea how to stop it.

You see, I’m passionate about fixing things that are broken. I’m passionate about people and about standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I want to fix injustice. I want to stop suffering. I want to be someone that people can count on. I want others to know that I will always be there for them no matter their skin color, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, background, or any other characteristic.

I will always be a voice for anyone who needs me. I strive to never say no to someone in need.

But this does not stop the hatred and blatant ignorance that I’m seeing from people around the nation.

Yes, you know where this is going. No, it will not be pretty. It never is. I will not coddle people. I will not allow something that I perceive as injustice to continue without saying a word.

I don’t understand how people can just stand to the side on issues that affect the type of world that we create. You choose to be a bystander. You choose to say that this issue isn’t important enough for me to get involved. You choose to let your pride and reputation come before the wellbeing of others.

And I do not understand those choices.

We live in a democracy of the people who participate. That means that in order to achieve what the people want, the people must take a stand with pride. You cannot hide how you feel. You cannot decide to not take a side in order to not offend someone.

I am a firm believer in learning from others. You have to understand the world from someone else’s perspective in order to grow. However, refusing to give a little in order to compromise, but expecting the other side to, is insane.

We won’t come together with that attitude, we won’t heal, we won’t move forward.

And that is exactly what this country needs at this specific point in time.

In order to fully participate and for you to understand exactly where I’m coming from, I am going to get very personal, very fast. Some of these things I have never told anyone before. Everyone knows that I am upset with the outcome of November 8th, but not everyone knows why.

I am upset because I have spent my entire life feeling as if I were nothing, feeling as if I was not good enough. It didn’t matter how hard I tried with school, friends, clothes, makeup, boys, I wasn’t enough. I spent four years with a boy who made me feel like an option, a convenience, an object. Whether he knew that or not, that’s what the relationship was. I was always giving 150%, while he was giving nothing. When I finally worked up the courage to stand up for myself and realized what I was worth, the election process started. The second I knew that we would not last was when Donald said “We’re going to build a wall” for the first time. I was horrified, the boy laughed.

I ended things and finally started becoming the woman that I wanted to be. I realized that it was okay to be opinionated, and intelligent. I didn’t have to hide aspects of myself or dumb myself down in order to be accepted by people. Then Donald began making inappropriate remarks about his daughter. He was accused of sexual assault. He has a trial for the rape of a child in December.

I began to second guess every ounce of confidence and self worth that I had just recently built up.

Then he gained support. I started questioning whether or not I was worth it. When I heard my father say that sexual assault victims only come forward for money or attention, I wondered if he would say the same thing to me if I had been assaulted.

But it wasn’t just sexual assault. I wondered if my family had actually meant it when they told me that I could be anything I set my mind to. When I wanted to be a surgeon, or a business owner, or even now, when I want to be a lawyer and eventually a public servant, do they mean it? Or do they truly believe that I am not capable of succeeding in these careers. They always told me that I should teach, even though I had no interest. Was that because education is more of a “woman’s industry”?

I have had friends who are from different ethnicities, religions, genders, sexualities. I have heard the president elect say things that are beyond offensive to these people. He wants to build a wall, he wants to stop people from immigrating. I don’t think he fully understands how this country came to be. Here’s a hint, it was because of immigrants.

He has inspired a type of hate that transcends anything I have ever seen before. Hate crimes have spiked. People are being assaulted. People are being harassed. Because the Americans who participated validated everything that he had said and done on November 8th. Whether or not you’ve said something racist, xenophobic, sexist, or homophobic no longer matters. By casting your vote you said that those people do not matter to you.

After my last post, I received numerous messages from people of all ages. Only two of those messages disagreed with what I said. Those people told me that I upset them, and that I had broken their hearts. I wish that it had been enough for them to realize that something has got to change. I only hope that they understand that their actions and vote upset me and broke my heart, and the hearts of millions of other people that they claim to love.

Most people agreed that there is a fundamental issue within the hearts and minds of the church.

We are no longer talking about healthcare, or the military, or the economy (which is actually in pretty great shape currently), or abortion, or the Supreme Court. We are talking about being decent, good human beings. We are discussing the gap between our words and actions. The church is supposed to be a place of love and support. I haven’t seen that in a long time. I see something that is fake, completely inauthentic. I don’t see Christ in Christians and that is an issue.

The rest of the nation looks to Christians. They look to see how Christians act. What I see is hypocrisy. It’s something that makes me dread coming home. It’s something that makes me not want to be around you, or not be anything like you.

You see, I have always strived to please people. When I was seven years old I overheard my parents talking in the kitchen. My mom was crying because she did not know how they were going to pay for mine and my brother’s college. I made a pact with my seven year old self then that I would do whatever it took to take that burden off of my parents. I worked, I studied, I got involved. I currently have my education at the University of Kentucky paid for.

But I have realized that this needs to stop. I must think for myself. I shouldn’t worry about what others think. I must stand up for what I believe in because that’s how we get the America that we want. That’s how I become the woman I want to be. By taking a stand with pride and participating fully.

This is the gap that we need to close:

While you’re fighting for your 2nd amendment right, I am scared to death to go to class because we don’t have common sense gun laws in this country and I go to school with 30,000 people who could end my life at any moment.

While you’re stressing about creating jobs, I’m stressing about getting home before dark so that I won’t become a victim of assault.

While you’re worried about healthcare premiums rising, I’m worried about my rent going up because my scholarships won’t cover it.

While you’re worried about your race or gender being on top, I’m worried about my friends who are being harassed for being who they are.

While you’re worried about a Supreme Court judge, I’m worried about climate change and whether or not my children will have a planet to live on.

While you’re worried about stopping abortion, I’m worried about my ability to get birth control, or cancer screenings, or any other aspect of women’s health.

While you’re worried about something, I’m worried about police overreach, I’m worried about immigration reform, I’m worried about criminal justice reform, I’m worried about education reform, I’m worried about things that may not directly affect me. But I don’t need to be affected in order to realize that others need me to stand with them.

We’re not all that different, we might worry about different things and that’s okay. We’re all different in some ways; we have different experiences and backgrounds. But we must all choose to come together, and work together.

You can’t assume that you’re correct. You can’t write someone off before you know them. You can’t decide to not budge on your opinion but expect someone else to. You have to listen and not just hear what you want. You have to be open and honest and actually understand why you believe certain things.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. You get to choose how you respond to them. My hope for the future is that we respond with authentic love and hope, and not with the hatred that we are currently seeing.

-S

 

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