Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The True Enemies of the American People

   The year 2016 will long be remembered around America as one of the worst years most of us have ever experienced. Terror attacks were rising on the extreme, celebrities were dying it seemed every other week, and our nation was caught in the throes of an election that ripped our nation apart. The last threads of unity left hanging in our country were snapped as Republicans and Democrats first tore themselves apart in vicious primaries, then tore each other apart in an even more vicious general election. Violence rose everywhere political candidates went, hate was spewed on every political post that showed up on Facebook, and people on both sides lived in such a constant state of anger that they threw around death threats like confetti.
   The election has ended, but the fighting has just gotten worse. People on both sides have worked themselves into a frenzy. The left bemoans everything the current government does as causing the deaths of millions, and the right pounces on anything the government does, tears it to pieces, and calls the entire government promise-breaking traitors if they can find even a smidgen of something to criticize. People on both sides are intent on destroying anyone they see as opposition without pause or regrets. They are unable to speak civilly to someone that does not hold their views. It should not have been a surprise when the rabid fighting that has been going on unchecked finally pushed an unstable man to do the unthinkable and try to murder congressmen and senators gathering to practice for a charity baseball game. This country and this people have come to a breaking point, and if we don't find a way to unify, we may destroy ourselves in a civil war more bloody than the one that erupted in 1861.
   Hate. Anger. Viciousness. Violence. These are the things that define our country today, when before we were known for our love, our compassion, and our unity. We are not the United States of America anymore, but the Divided States of America. People all around the nation seem to have forgotten how to disagree civilly, how to have different worldviews and still be friends, how to love and care and put aside our differences for what really matters.
   Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could not have been more different. They had completely opposing beliefs and ideological systems. They disagreed on nearly everything that mattered. And yet they were still best friends for many years before Justice Scalia succumbed to a heart attack in February of 2016. Most Americans today couldn't even fathom how two people so different could be such good friends, and I couldn't either until not long ago.
   During former President Obama's very last State of the Union address, I had a flash of realization. Despite our incredibly differing views on everything imaginable, we were still working towards the same goal: a better, safer, freer America. Contrary to what I had believed, most people on the left are not consciously trying to destroy the country we all love. I realized we all do love America, no matter our political beliefs. We all are trying to make her a better nation, though we have different views on how that can be accomplished. I realized these people are not my enemies. We are all Americans, united in purpose and truth...or we should be.
   So who are our enemies?
   Barack Obama is not our enemy. Donald Trump is not our enemy. Neither is Hilary Clinton, Harry Reid, George W. Bush, Ted Cruz, or the media on both sides of the aisle. Hate is our enemy. Fear is our enemy. Aggression and violence are our enemies. Criticism, anger, and suspicion are our enemies. Ignorance is our enemy. Lies are our enemy.
   But people are not our enemies. We need to stop all the hatred and the anger and the lies. We need to stop accusing the other side of trying to kill people and of being the devil's seed. We need to stop assuming the people in the government are out for themselves and are always trying to hurt the American people. We need to stop jumping to conclusions, and threatening violence, and losing friends to arguments over our beliefs. We can disagree and still be friends. We have a lot more in common with the people on the other side than we think. People on the other side are truly trying to do the right thing. It does not make them our enemy when they are opposed to what we are doing.
   We can still disagree with the people around us. Indeed, disagreements, if conducted civilly and in a friendly manner, can be very healthy for a nation of laws and purpose. But the fighting, the hatred, the ignorance, the anger, is poisoning our country and may lead to her death. It needs to stop and it needs to stop now, on both sides of the aisle, in every state, in every political and ideological group, in every religion and belief system, in every city and town, everywhere across the entire nation.
   Please reach out to those around you who disagree with you and reassure them you are their friends, that you stand with them, and that though you may disagree on many things, you still love them and recognize you are still working towards a better America.
   In the 1960's, people talked about spreading love, not hate. True love is putting aside our differences and standing united, working towards our common goals, and finding our common ground with each other. Let's put aside our division and hatred and become a united nation once more.

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