Monday, October 10, 2016

Be the message you want to receive

Election day is less than a month away and the country remains strongly divided. Some people are leaning left, others leaning right while votes from an entire contingent of undecideds remains up for grab. Assuming, that is, they cast ballots at all. 

It’s been a crazy presidential campaign. So much ugly rhetoric has been thrown about. Name calling. Verbal abuse. Lies. Bullying. Suggestive innuendos. Disrespectful, nasty remarks have been spewed so often that the good citizens of the United States have begun to take trash talk for granted. Same old, same old. Business as usual.

No! It’s not!

Regardless of what side of the political spectrum one’s beliefs veer, intentional cruelty is unacceptable. It’s not OK to be mean or belligerent. It’s not all right to purposely deceive or cheat others. It is especially despicable to gloat about it afterward.

What happened to goodness? What happened to dignity, respect and civility? Why have we allowed politicians to hijack our sense of decency?

While driving through downtown New Smyrna recently, I noticed a sign in a residential neighborhood that summed up my sentiments about not just the upcoming elections but about our society in general.

The sign, a typical campaign-sized placard with bold lettering on a white background, was positioned on the front porch of an older wood-frame house. It struck such a note when it caught my eye I had to drive around the block to see it again. On my second pass, I slowed down, pulled over onto the shoulder and took a picture.

“Make America Kind Again” the sign proclaimed.

I couldn’t agree more.

We are a nation of 325 million. Our skin color is black, white and almost every shade in between. We are old. We are young. Single, married and in relationships. Some of us are religious. Some of us are not. We are gay. We are heterosexual. We have children. We have pets. We live in cities, farms, small towns and remote countrysides. Some of us are working. Others are retired or unemployed. We are rich. We are poor. We are the vast middle class.

Yet, despite our differences, we have one thing in common. We are all Americans. 

We live in a country that cherishes freedom. But what kind of freedom are we cherishing these days? The freedom to be rude to each other? To be arrogant, boastful and disrespectful? To hate, fear and persecute those who are different from us? 

Most Americans today are only here because their own relatives were once outsiders struggling as if their lives depended upon it (because they often did) to be part of a country with such promise.

What’s the promise now? 

We are facing monumental problems that not only affect our nation but threaten the very planet on which we live. The U.S. has so much potential to do good in the world, but we’re not going to get there by being greedy and belligerent. We’re not going to get there by being brash, abrasive and insensitive to the feelings and needs of others.

Election day is less than a month away. We each have an opportunity to make a choice. For me, it’s an easy decision. I’m voting for kindness. “Make America Kind Again.’ 

Be the message you want to receive.

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