I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time since the Presidential election thinking and feeling. I find myself fluctuating between anger, sadness, and a need to see a way ahead that requires finding some kind of middle ground with those whom I disagree. I’m trying very hard to listen to my neighbors near and far to find the truth of what this will mean to us all. I’ve been reading all the credible sources on the issue I can find from both sides. I’ve been listening and I’m trying to have an open mind and heart despite my own beliefs about the situation. The reality is that there is a new president elect with his own beliefs and agenda whether I like it or not. I need to find a way ahead. I need to decide a course of action and I want to make sure that those actions will come from a place of rational thought and that my energies will be used in efforts that have a chance of making a difference. I don’t want to spin my wheels or wallow in my frustration.
I live in a very rural part of the rust belt. That term is fairly new one for me. I guess I always considered myself a midwesterner. But, I get the connotation and it’s apt. What I’m not happy about is the other connotations and names that have now been given to those that live where I live; racist, bigot, sexist. Others have painted them with these broad brush strokes. These are people I care about who had real reasons to want change. For most, their vote was about economics and feeling ignored. However, I am more and more convinced that their need “to drain the swamp” and “make America great again” will come at a cost none of us are willing to pay and the change they were looking for will not come. I am more and more convinced that they have been duped.
So, it was with a heavy heart that I went to my granddaughters’ basketball preview game last Friday. As we drove twelve miles across rolling hills to the high school, avoiding deer around practical every bend in the road, I tried to quiet my fears and worries. We were late for the game showcasing this year’s county teams and when we arrived we found the parking lot was full. We walked into the crowded gym and worked our way to our seats while greeting those folks we passed. As I settled into my seat, I looked around the small gym at the folks sporting the red and green of their respective teams. These are people who live next to each other. These are people who run farms, teach school, work in factories, and run small businesses. They are people who follow the rules, served their country with pride, and come to the aid of those in need.
As I watched my granddaughters and their team mates line up on the court, I stood in preparation for what I knew was coming next, the playing of the national anthem. As the announcer asked us to stand in honor of “our great country with privileges like no other”. I placed my hand over my heart and faced the giant flag hung high on the wall. I noticed the men removing their hats and the mothers admonishing their little ones to stop fidgeting and to pay attention. I saw the athletes standing at respectful attention with their young faces turned upward to the flag and I began to tear up. I think I teared up because despite all that is going on in our country, I could feel pride to be an American in that gym. I teared up because I was here enjoying my freedoms and I know there are other in our country who struggle to do the same. I teared up because my granddaughters are growing up to be strong women who know their worth and I know I will fight for their right to be treated equally and with respect. I have no idea exactly who in this crowd is conservative and who liberal, who is about liberty and who is about justice, but as the the last notes of the anthem rang out and the clapping began, I said a little prayer that we may indeed find a way to both…liberty and justice for all.