Today we celebrate the birth of our nation with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. When a group of people decided that only the people should have control over the government. That we were born with certain inalienable rights that no ruling body could revoke.
The men who wrote and signed this document were not perfect by any means. Some were slave owners and believed in slavery. Some were known philanderers. Some proved themselves to be untrustworthy. Many felt that women had no right to participate in the running of our country.
The men who wrote and signed this document did not get along. Later many of them would become the bitterest of political rivals striving to undermine the progress and beliefs of the other at every turn.
But they had a shared vision of a country where the people would rule themselves without fear of being persecuted for differing beliefs and ideas.
Today as we become what seems ever more divided in our beliefs, it gets hard to agree on much. That’s perfectly fine. Our system is built so that people can express their views equally and choose for themselves whom they want to represent them and their values. Democracy is messy. Two party systems are messy. But it’s that very friction of disparate views that allows for us to build a country that embraces freedom for everyone at its very core.
So today, let’s try to embrace that idea. Let’s take a break from the mean spirited memes. Let’s take a break from the bait click headlines. Let’s remember that all those people we may think of as “libtards” or “right wing nut jobs” are Americans. Our neighbors. Our friends. Our family.
Instead of unfriending or unfollowing that Facebook friend with the different political view as you, wish them a “Happy 4th of July” and tell them that you love them. Remember that they are a person just like you just trying to make it through the day as best they can. They are not evil. They are not “ruining the country”. They just want to be happy and healthy and live a good life. Just like you.
Look at that person. A person you love. A person you want to see succeed even though they have diametrically opposing views as yours. Think about how you would never get in their face and curse them. You would not ever physically assault them. You would not disparage them in front of their friends and family.
Then remember that most people in the opposing political party from you are just like that. They are a person. They have friends and family who love them. They are just trying to do what they think is right. Everyone is the hero in their own story.
And then maybe. Just maybe. The next time you want to post that mean spirited political meme. Or when you want to post some disparaging comment. Or “like” someone else’s meme of comment. Think about the person on the other side of that. Not the political party. The person.
For my friends with different political and religious views, think about how when you post something against the LBGTQ community you are posting it about MY son. He is a person whom I love dearly. How do you think it makes me feel when I scroll through Facebook in the morning and see that?
How about instead of posting something mean spirited that will most likely hurt someone you love, you reach out and ask for some understanding. Have a conversation. Seek to understand before you try to be understood.
You don’t have to believe what I believe. We don’t have to convince each other that one way is right and one way is wrong. We just need to get at least a little shred of empathy for the opposing person and their idea. Give a little to get a little.
If a bunch of slave owning, misogynist, rebellious white dudes could do it in 1776, why can’t we do that today?
by my youngest son. Share if this speaks to your heart.