Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Stop talking . . . and listen

If you vote red, blue, or 51 shades of gray (new movie out, not trying to get sued), I’m talking to you. I promise, this is not a political rant, but something for all sides to hear, so keep reading. Thank you to my international readers; however, this post is directed at those living in the United States.

The county (USA) is divided and everyone is “yelling” at each other. Friday’s Inauguration is one of the most feared and anticipated events happening. On the one hand you have supporters who are excited for change. On the other hand you have non-supporters who are looking at their counterparts with huge side eyes, like, really? And the world is watching, wondering how this event in US History will affect world relations.

Let’s back up a second, though. I can’t predict the future, and neither can you. So let’s talk about what we can affect. Now more than ever we need to TRY HARDER. I’m not just talking to the Liberals, or just to the Conservatives, but to everyone. This mentality that our way is the only right way is hurting us. We have lost friendships over the last couple of months because people didn’t agree with us. Or people became disrespectful when we said something they did not agree with. What? We have the freedom to believe and speak our minds. It is a freedom that we often take for granted. But with freedom comes much responsibility.

We have categorized people by where they live or what they look like. We make assumptions about the other sides’ capabilities. We are talking and talking and talking, but not listening. My purpose is not to convince you that my side is right and you are wrong. My purpose, is to get you to consider their story.

Globalization has been great for the world. We are able to trade goods and purchase things from other countries that we could not, or chose not, to make for ourselves. But again, anything exploited eventually goes bad. Soon it becomes cheaper to import than to manufacture.  Manufacturing goes down and jobs get eliminated.  People stop going to school for those lost trades, and now you HAVE to import the materials because you have lost the skill to make them. The import country is free to raise the price with no competition. This is no secret and businesses do it all the time. So it’s really unfair to later get upset and add more taxes to this country for just using good business practices.

Just like it’s unfair to claim that immigrants take away all our jobs. First of all, the country was founded on immigrants and it is something that has always been celebrated. Secondly, most of the jobs people claim are taken by immigrants, are jobs they don’t want to do. And if they are jobs they DO want to do, then why is the assumption that the other candidate wasn’t qualified? Many times I have heard ‘the [Black/Hispanic/Asian/etc] person took my job.’ What? If you and I both apply and you don’t get it, why can’t it just be that you were not as fit? The minute a minority and majority party is involved, there is often a raised eyebrow as if to say the minority did not truly earn it. That is a problem. Building a wall instead of addressing the actual issue, is a problem. Paying considerably less money for hard labor is a problem. So we should fix the problem. Not put yet another band-aid over it. The reason the wall is so offensive is because people act like Mexicans are unwanted. Imagine if you were Mexican and living in Texas and you knew that people around you think you shouldn’t be there, when you are a tax-paying citizen just like them. How would you feel?

Consider that your kids are being bombed daily on their way to school and you have to turn off the lights at least once a week, for fear of being seen. Imagine being in a country where someone might try to kill you, just because. As a parent, you would do anything in your power to protect your family; even leaving the place you call home. Refugees are living this life every day. While it may seem a burden to bare the responsibility of taking care of people that are not from your country when your own country has issues, what part of being human is it to ignore someone when you are in a position to help them? What happens when you are the one that needs the help? Immigration reform is a HUGE topic, that I can’t cover in this little post, but I am just pointing out issues that we need to talk about. To look beyond how this issue affects us at home, but to think, what if we were in that position and home wasn’t safe? We can’t protect everyone, but as one of the most developed countries in the world, don’t we have a moral obligation to at least try?

Imagine walking home in the dark on a cold winter night. You have your hoodie on and are minding your business. A cop car pulls up and you are scared. Why should you be scared if you didn’t do anything? Sometimes whether you do something or not is irrelevant. When you see tons of people that look like you being shot and killed for no reason, with no real punishment, you feel as if your life does not matter. That is what Black Lives Matter is all about. It’s not a terrorist group, and the label that caring about a subset of an American group in America would ever be classified as terrorism is more than offensive. Yet, we easily dismiss it with All Lives Matter, which was never excluded. When we consider one another we stop and think of why someone would need to tell me that their life mattered. If we can’t listen, and instead we just get defensive and dismiss what this person is trying to tell us, we are not really trying.

Or instead of a hoodie at night, imagine this person had an hijab in plain daylight. How would you feel if you were scared to wear a baseball cap to the game? Not everyone in any group is bad and to automatically stereotype that they are perpetuates hate. It starts with kids teasing one another and “random” hate crimes. This is a problem we need to address.

Lastly, I want to challenge you to meet someone that looks nothing like you this year. Not only meet them, but have a conversation. Learn the difference between Transgender and transsexual; understand what makes Black hair so unique; get a refugee penpal who had to leave everything they know and love to save their life; talk to someone who voted for the other candidate and truly ask them why; learn about the education system for farm children; research why affirmative action is in place and the socioeconomic gap in minorities; ask an NRA-supporter why they love guns so much; learn a language different from your own so you can understand how difficult it can be; talk to someone 10 years younger and older than you, and find out what is/was “cool” in their day; talk to someone on the opposite religious spectrum as you and find out the basis of their beliefs (or non-beliefs). And finally, something as simple as, listen to a Pandora station opposite of what you normally listen.

There are 325 million people in the United Sates. Surely, we the people, can have some control over our destiny. It can't be just one person.

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