Category Archives: Freestyle Writings/Musings

Up Here on My High Horse

“Look at you up there on your high horse.”

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately.

Have you?

Seems like any time I engage in a debate on Facebook about the recent women’s march, or just about scientific facts in general, I get told to “get down off of my high horse.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this, and more often than not it has come from other local women in my small town.

I couldn’t seem to get that phrase off of my mind, so I decided to research it a bit. (For those who aren’t aware, “research” is a thing you do when you don’t understand something. It’s preferably done before you start speaking about a particular subject. I’ll wait if you need to go write that down.)

Okay.

I found a site called phrases.org.uk. Kind of a fun little site that helps you find out where certain terms originated from. This is what it had to say about being “on a high horse:”

“When we now say that people are on their high horse we are implying a criticism of their haughtiness. The first riders of high horses didn’t see it that way; they were very ready to assume a proud and commanding position, indeed that was the very reason they had mounted the said horse in the first place. The first references to high horses were literal ones; ‘high’ horses were large or, as they were often known in mediaeval England, ‘great’ horses.”

Okay, so let’s break that down. What is now used as a term of insult, actually didn’t used to be that way. It was almost a term of honor. It was used to refer to the people who were in a “proud and commanding position.”

A proud and commanding position.

Well.

So, how do I respond to that?  Am I actually up on a high horse like I’ve been accused of being?

I only know one way to answer that.

Hell yes I am!

And here’s why.

During the Women’s March last weekend in Washington, D.C., my friend Cassondra and I were literally smashed between thousands of people. We could not see anything other than the backs of the person in front of us. Sometimes we managed to squeeze ourselves into a position behind a person shorter than us and, in those rare moments of being able to breathe, were actually able to see the speaker on the television screen who happened to be talking at the time.  We couldn’t really hear them, mind you, but we could at least see them for a split second before our view and breath was obstructed yet again.

At one point amidst the ‘standing room only’ crowd, my claustrophobic and exhausted friend started showing signs bordering on a panic attack. I asked around to see if anyone knew of a place we could go to get out of the crowd and, while that was practically impossible, one person did point out that there was a long tunnel-like alley leading down to a locked underground passageway beneath a nearby building. At this point (this would change later, mind you), not many people were down there because of the sight restrictions. The crowd parted in what little way it could to let us make a small path to this spot to give my friend some breathing room.

When we got there, while she could breathe easier and we felt less struggle, we couldn’t quite forget what we were missing up there. Above us, history was being made. We were there to document it, photograph it, write about it – and yet here we were hiding in an alley.

Why were we doing that?

I’ll tell you why

Because it was hard up there.

It was, man. It was hard.

It was terrifying even.

It is a scary thing to put yourself in a situation that you’re not sure you can get out of. We were both asking ourselves why we were there. Why we had subjected ourselves to this flood of people. How were our two little faces in the crowd even going to matter?  Why hadn’t we just stayed home?

And then suddenly, I had an idea.

Our little alley was positioned behind a row of portajohns, and behind that row of portajohns was a metal railing. After studying it for a few minutes, I wondered if it might just be possible to climb up there and snap a photo from up above. It wasn’t going to be easy, I knew that, and we might even hurt ourselves (or her fancy camera) in the process.  But how were we going to let people know what we saw if we weren’t even seeing it ourselves?

We had a job to do.

And by god, we were going to do it.

So, between the two of us and some awkward maneuvering, we managed to ‘scale the wall’ (take that however you’d like) and rise above it.

And when we got there, this is what we saw:

hats

Photo by Cassondra G. Photography

From up there at my vantage point – on my “high horse” if you will – I could see what I couldn’t see while I was down in that pit. I could see hundreds of thousands of people in every direction you look. A sea of pink hats representing a common goal. Men, women, black, white, Hispanic, Christian, Muslim…you name it. They were there.

And what a sight it was to behold.

Here’s the thing about climbing out of a pit and seeing what you couldn’t see before. It’s addictive. You get up there and you realize that is where you want to be. You realize that hiding down in the pit is not going to get you anywhere. You’re missing it. You might feel like you have room to move down there, but the truth is – you don’t. You’re stuck.

You have to climb out. You have to get up on that high horse and take a look around. Be proud. Be commanding.

Make a difference.

And then come back to tell people about it.

“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.”
– Alejandro Jodorowsky

Don’t be like that, okay? Don’t think that flying is an illness. Don’t think that rising above the situation that surrounds you is going to be a bad thing. Are people going to talk about you up there? Sure they are! Why? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe they think it’s not fair that you got to be up there and they didn’t. Maybe they think that you’re trying to be better than them because you took the time and initiative to climb out of the status quo.

And you know what?

They’re right.

You are better than them.

You took the time to look around for yourself. You took the time to break out of that cage and see what flying really feels like. And when you got there, you realized you weren’t alone. There was a whole sea of people out there waiting to fly with you.

In conclusion, to the next person that tells me I’m up on my high horse, I’d like to thank you. Thank you for the reminder that yes, I am up here. And I’m not coming back down because I can’t.

Can you possibly understand that?

I just can’t.

The view is way too nice from up here. I can’t imagine climbing back down.

But you know what?

There’s plenty of room up here. I’ll slide over and let you on too if you want.  I promise.

All you have to do is ask.

***

“Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.”
– Dorothea Brande

womens-march

 

Attention-Seekers: The Women’s March on Washington

“The best protection any woman can have … is courage.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton

***

“We’re with a group of strong, beautiful women. We’re fine.”

metropicThese were the words that my travel companion and dear friend Cassondra uttered to her concerned mother by telephone as we made our way into Washington DC by metro train for the Women’s March on Washington early on the morning of January 21, 2017.

I’ve had to replay Cassondra’s words many times in my head in the days since. I’ve needed the reminder that those simple words provide. I’ve needed the strength, the affirmation, the love.

Because, let me tell you, the days following Saturday have not been easy.

The only way I know how to describe it is that I’ve walked out of a sea of love into a swarm of hatred.

I live in a small, conservative area. I don’t mean to use the word “conservative” with a negative connotation, but I’m just going to have to say it like it is. The minds around me tend to be small. They can’t (won’t) stretch far enough to take in all that is out there in this big world. I’ve become used to it. I’ve become accustomed to the responses I receive any time I go against the flow (which is pretty often). This is nothing new. I knew there’d be negativity. I was prepared for it. It’s pretty much the status quo for me.

But what I wasn’t prepared for?

What took me surprise?

The response from some of my friends.

My FEMALE friends at that.

“I’ll march at the ‘we’re all a bunch of hypocritical asshats that love to point out the splinter in another’s eye while ignoring the log in ours’ protests.”

“I didn’t ask anyone to march for me.”

“No one ‘fought’ shit. You guys walked around getting pats on your back from people who already agreed with you.”

“They’re just a bunch of attention-seeking whores.”

Lovely, huh?

And, oh no….these were not comments that I just plucked off of the internet, mind you. These were said by women I know personally. Women I considered friends. In fact, one of them was one I had even considered one of my best friends right up until the moment my eyes met those words.

I feel shell shocked.

I’ve been running their words over in my mind.

Attention-seeking whores.”

Women (and men) just looking for “pats on the back.”

I suppose there is some truth to some of it. Really. For example – attention-seeking? Okay, actually yeah. That’s exactly what we were doing. Exactly. Drawing attention to the things that get swept under the rug. The drastic wage difference between men and women. The daily cat-calling, condescension, and groping that women are submitted to.  The men who make their eight-year-old daughters cry because they want their hair cut but daddy refuses to “let them” because the Bible says they’ll go to hell. (Oh yes. True story.) The Brock Turners of the world who serve three mere months in jail for damage that a woman will live with forever, because it may have hurt his little swimming career.

The men who brag about grabbing women’s pussies against their will because they have the power to do so, and yet advance to become the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Are we wanting attention? Well, yeah. I suppose you can say we are.

So, attention-seeking – I’ll give you.  Whores?  Hell, I don’t know. Maybe some of them out there have been paid for sex. Me, though? Notsomuch. So I’m gonna have to pull a snopes on you for that one. FALSE.

Now. Are we looking for “pats on the back”?

Hmmm. Actually, I think that might be the other way around. We were there to give those pats on the back.

nastywomanmanTo the woman I overheard trying desperately to hear on her cellphone as the crowd thickened and the decibel level rose because she was calling to make sure her son made it to soccer practice? Yes. That woman deserves a pat on the back. So, here. This pat is for you.

To the man who married a “nasty woman” and showed up to show his support and love for her and all women like her? This pat is for you, sir.

To the woman carrying the sign that said, “I’m the lesbian daughter of a Muslim immigrant?” This pat is for you, you strong, beautiful, brave woman. And here’s another one for your mom.

babyTo the many women in the crowd who carried their babies on their person for hours at a time so that they could be a part of an historical event to have their voices heard? This pat? Yeah. This one is definitely for you. What a story you’ll have to tell them. Kudos to you, momma.

To the little latino girl on her daddy’s shoulders beaming as she watched 6-year-old Sophie Cruz, daughter of Mexican immigrants, give arguably the most rousing speech of the day? That smile that covered her face as little Sophie told her, “I am here to tell the children, do not be afraid”?  Oh yeah, that one gets a pat on the back. And it would have gotten the biggest hug you’ve ever gotten from a ginger stranger if I could have reached you, you sweet little thing you.

hatefearTo the teenager holding the rainbow sign showing the USA and the words, “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here”? A pat on the back for you, little warrior woman. I know full well how tough it is for a teenager who is “different.” How brave you were to walk through the streets of that big city and show the other kids of the world that you were on their side.

To the woman wearing the race bib on your shirt that said “Sarah bear”? Being a runner myself, I had to ask you about it. I thought it was yours. When you told me that you were wearing that bib in honor of your young daughter who had just passed away? I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring. You definitely get a pat on the back. A big one. You possess a strength that I couldn’t possibly know. You are my hero.

To the woman who wrote this sign we found propped against a fence at the white house:

sign

This blog would go on forever if I kept up with all of these ‘pats on the back,’ so I’ll finish it up with one final one.

To the woman who stood by my side through it all. The woman I watched feed a homeless man; defend a woman who was being verbally attacked by a stranger on the street; force a parting of the crowd to help a woman break through to find her son. The woman who continually asked people’s stories. Who felt people’s pain. Who engaged everyone in conversation. Who shed tears on countless occasions simply because she was standing where she was and doing what she felt in her heart to be right. The woman who never wanted to be in front of the camera because she was too busy behind the camera –  documenting the happiness, the strength, and, sometimes, the pain. The woman who lost her job while we were on this trip because of a landslide in our small town, yet who set that worry and grief aside long enough to focus on the matter at hand, and do her part in preserving a piece of history. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I raged with her.

We became sisters.

cassondraSo, to Cassondra? An extra special pat on the back for you, lady.

*THIS* is what this trip was about. This is what this weekend was about. This is what that day was about. This was what that march was about.

Sisterhood.

Togetherness.

Connection.

Strength.

Love.

Determination.

We are going to be there for one another. We just are. Not just Cassondra and me. Every woman that stood there side by side in a collective love.  That day was just the start. The start of something big and beautiful.

And I will not…I repeat, NOT…let pettiness stand in my way.

There will be more stories to tell, I promise. Cassondra is a photographer and there will be photos coming that will blow you away. Her photos will tell stories that my words never could. Wait for them.

We are not through yet.

I just had to get this out while it was weighing on me.

I had to fight back against the oppression, even if it was coming from friends.

We won’t be stopped. You don’t have to understand this now. But one day you will.

One day you will.

not-over

Sign left outside a café the morning after the march in DC

This is Why

“Why can’t you just get over it?”

“What’s the big deal? You ‘lost.’ Move on.”

“Can’t we all just get along?”

“Give him a chance.”

“This is Sally. Sally voted for Trump. This is Bob. Bob voted for Hillary. Sally and Bob are still friends. Be like Sally and Bob.”

Oh yes. I’ve heard them all.

And so have you.

And each time I hear them, I stop for just a second and consider it. I mean, I like peace. Peace is pretty cool. I like when people get along. I like when we work together and hold hands and move forward. I like to forgive. I like to “let it go.” Those things feel good. And they sound great.

Ah. But then I remember.

I will not get over this.

“Why won’t you let it go?”

Let me try to put this in terms you might understand. Let me show you my why.

I want you to picture this in your mind. A man grabs my 16-year-old daughter and holds a gun to her head. He threatens her. He tells her that the life that she has known is going to change. He makes fun of her friends, her family, her.

I stand by and watch.

I wonder how this happened. Where did this man come from? What did my daughter ever do to him? Why can’t I stop this? He’s too strong. He holds the gun – the power – and I have no idea what to do. I hate him. I hate him for what he’s doing to her. I hate him for instilling this fear into her. I pray that he won’t pull the trigger, but know deep down that even if he doesn’t, so much damage is already done. So much.

And then.

Then I notice he’s not alone.

Standing behind him, is you. No, you aren’t holding the gun to my daughter’s head. And hey, you maybe even don’t agree with him holding it there. You think he’s being a little too rough. You know he’s not really going to hurt her. He’s just saying all that stuff, he doesn’t mean it.

And yet.

Yet.

YOU HANDED HIM THE GUN.

gunThat is my why, people.  THAT is my why.

The fear that this incoming administration has put into the hearts of so many in this country is UNFORGIVEABLE. And if you voted for it, you are to blame.

Are we really going to lose our insurance? Is the LGBTQ community really going to lose their rights? Are disabled children really going to lose protections within the school system?  Is the black community really going to again be looked down upon as the “less thans”?  Is there really going to be a wall built between us and our Mexican friends? Is our country really going to be besties with a dictator who has proven himself vile and evil? Are women really going to be treated as weak and unworthy of respect because our leader deems them so?

You know what? I don’t have those answers. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

But what I do know is this fear.

This fear is real. It’s debilitating.

And I know who is holding that gun.

And I know who handed to him.

Is he going to pull the trigger?  I don’t know if he will or not. But, as for me, the damage is already done.

No, I won’t be getting over this any time soon.

I will remember.

I will remember.

And I will fight with the last breath I have in my body to ensure that no one else will ever be held under that gunpoint again.

Watch me.

***

 

 

 

#WhyIMarch

“I learned I had to stand for something, so I could stand to be me.”
– Martin Sheen

The Women’s March on Washington is next Saturday, January 21, 2017, the day after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office.

And I, Melissa Edmondson, will be there.

My critical father asked me a simple question about this choice.

“Why?” 

Why?  Gosh, how can I answer that? How can I make my dad understand? How can I make anyone understand? How can I make me understand?

Allow me to borrow a few more words from Martin Sheen:

“I do it because I can’t seem to live with myself if I do not. I don’t know any other way to be. It isn’t something you can explain; it is just something that you do; it is something that you are. “

How can I say it any better than he already did?

I don’t know how to not be there.

I don’t know how to turn a blind eye to what is happening around us.

I don’t know how to make myself utter the word “President” before the word “Trump.” I don’t know how to watch as basic rights are being stripped away from the people I love. I don’t know how to watch a wall be built between two groups of people because they are different. I don’t know how to watch our country’s leader play footsie under the table with a horrendous dictator who kills innocent men, women and children with no remorse. I don’t know how to continue being the recipient of the “talking down to” that comes from the men around me. I don’t know how to watch men who don’t even know me make decisions for me about my body.

I don’t know how to watch my friend Jeff die because he is about to lose the insurance that pays for the treatments that are keeping him alive.

I don’t know how to do it.

“I don’t know any other way to be.”

I just don’t.

So, daddy, this is why. Is it the waste of time and money that you say it is? If we’re speaking in immediate terms, sure. Maybe it is. I’m not saving the world. I’m one small little pussy hat-wearing face among many. One little voice that will probably be drowned out by all the others.

But one day.

One day.

I will be remembered.

I will be remembered for speaking up. I will be remembered like the role models and heroes that came before me. My children will remember that I was not silent.

I will remember that I was not silent.

We have to fix this. We HAVE TO FIX THIS.

There is no other choice.

wall

***

“I honestly do not know if civil disobedience has any effect on the government. I can promise you it has a great effect on the person who chooses to do it.”
– Martin Sheen

Broken Theater

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
– Seneca

I feel like I should share something I heard this morning in case someone else needs to hear it too.

I was flipping through the radio stations and I stopped when I heard an announcer telling this story about her taking her two little boys to the movies for the first time ever. They were both young and were very excited to be seeing their first movie in a real live theater. They were running a tad late, and when they finally rushed in, and got their seats, they realized that not only were the previews not showing yet, but the lights weren’t even dimmed and nothing was happening.

After sitting there a while, the attendant came and told them that they were having difficulties and that the movie was not going to be shown in this theater after all. They could still see the show, but would have to be moved to another theater within the building. The older boy understood and was ready to pack up and move down the hall, but the younger one just couldn’t grasp what the man was saying. He sat there and just started boo-hooing because he wanted to see the movie.

He wouldn’t budge.

Finally, after much coaxing from mom and the movie attendant, they finally drug the devastated kid out of the theater and into the next one. Lo and behold, this one was an even bigger theater…more seats, bigger screen, etc. Once the child saw this, he immediately dried it up and went on to enjoy his wonderful first ever movie-going experience.

The radio announcer paused for a minute and then said to think about this in regard to our own lives. This is how we are. We sit and cry in the old theater, refusing to budge, waiting for a movie that is never going to show, all because we don’t understand that if we just let go and get up and move down the hall…bigger and better things are waiting for us.

As someone who has been sitting in an old broken theater, I needed to hear that.

broken-theatre

Accidental Preachin’

“I’m no atheist – I’m lazy. I really do like hassle-free Sunday mornings. I have a problem with organized religion, so I’ve simply opted out. Live and let live, I figure.”
– Lynn Coady

Okay.

So, I accidentally went to church this morning.

*Sigh.*

See, about a year ago, for a plethora of reasons, I kind of gave up on the organized religion thing. Many in my world don’t agree with that decision, but it’s my life and it is what it is. (Disclaimer: I do still go to church with my grandma on occasion. That’s because my love for her is just a smidge stronger than my stubbornness.)

So, generally on any given Sunday morning, you’ll find me lounging at my house doing as little as possible.  (You know – that “resting on the seventh day” thing. I’m still a big fan of that one.)  So, this morning, in keeping with my new Sunday ritual, I groggily woke up a little past 8:00 a.m., stretched, yawned, realized no one else was awake, and proceeded to turn over and go right back to sleep.

But something interrupted my plans.

My husband likes to have the tv on while he sleeps. [Insert huge whiney *SIGH* here. Grrr. I hate that thing.] So, as I attempted to drift off, the sound of the television distracted me. It was turned to the history channel and a show called “The Bible’s Biggest Secrets” was on. Greeeat. Here I am purposely not going to church and what’s keeping me from falling back to sleep?  Church.

So, realizing that going back to sleep was not going to be in the cards, I rolled over to look for the remote. But, alas, as is usually the case, it was nowhere to be found. (I’m convinced that my husband snuggles with that thing and then tucks it safely under his body so I won’t be able to turn the tv off in the middle of the night. He knows me well enough to know that getting up and going across the room to push the power button on the device itself is just totally OUT of the question.) So, realizing that churchin on the history channel was how it was gonna go down, I grudgingly started checking it out.

And whoa.

Okay, so first off, the name of the show itself was The Bible’s Greatest Secrets, so I guess I should have known that this wouldn’t be the typical Sunday morning service. And this particular episode was about Jesus himself.

Now, let me break right here just a second. I don’t care who you are or what you believe, surely you can see that Jesus was pretty cool, right? I don’t think there’s a whole lot of doubt about whether the man existed – he’s pretty much a staple in historical figures. He was here, he did some stuff, then he died. Was he divine? Did he rise again? Eh, that’s for you to decide for yourself, I suppose. But he was here. That part is a fact.

And, in my opinion, dude was awesome.

So, I started watching this show and they were talking about the parable of the Good Samaritan. Now, even if you’re not the church-going type and never have been, you’ve probably heard about the good Samaritan. We still use that term now to refer to anyone who helps another out. But on this show, they dug a little deeper into the story.

samaritanA lot of you may already know what I’m about to say, and I guess I did too on some level, but something about the way they told it on this show this morning really got to me. This “good Samaritan” (an actual Samaritan – a man from Samaria) stopped to help a Jewish man lying on the side of the road.  The man had been beaten and attacked by thieves and left there to die. Many had already passed him by and left him to suffer his fate, including priests.

Now, I had heard this story many times growing up in my grandma’s southern Baptist church, but I had never stopped to think why these people had passed this guy by and not helped.  Frankly, I figured they were just assholes.  But, as it turns out, that Samaritans and Jews were sworn enemies.

They hated each other.

Did I know that? Eh, probably. So, why did this suddenly make so much sense to me today?

Back to the story.  So, finally, along comes this Samaritan and, for whatever reason, while all of the other “enemies” had passed by and left this guy to die, this particular Samaritan just couldn’t do it. He stopped for him. He helped him. He took him to safety.

This was crazy! Unheard of at this time. Practically impossible.

Granted, this story wasn’t a true story exactly. Nothing like this had actually happened, I don’t suppose. It was one of his famous parables. The stories that Jesus, the King of Metaphors, would tell his followers as lessons – guides so to speak. He wanted his followers to be like that Samaritan. To overlook what society was telling them about this group of people, and look at this one man as an individual. Help him. Reach inside yourself and do what you know to be right rather than what status quo would have you believe.

Gee, sound familiar?

So, anyway, the guy on the history channel went on to explain how this was pretty much Jesus’s whole intention. He was the new status quo. He was a barrier breaker. A wall destroyer. A curtain splitter.

But what happened to him? Well, things didn’t end so well. He stood up to authority and he paid for it. As the history channel host put it:

“When you attack a barrier, you run the risk of being destroyed by its collapse.” 

Wow.

Now, this doesn’t say you WILL be destroyed. You just run the risk. There’s a sacrifice to be made.

One more thing that was mentioned on the show: turning the other cheek.  This is another one of those lessons from Jesus that many of us, religious or not, have probably heard throughout our lives. Here’s the actual verse itself:

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:39 KJV

(Notice I used the King James version for you die-hards who may be reading this. Actually, I probably lost you guys when I used “asshole” up there. Sorry about that.)

Anyway, so most of us who have heard that over the years, probably have heard it as “be a doormat.” I mean, really. That’s what it has always sounded like to me. If someone beats the hell out of you, don’t fight back. Let them beat the hell out of the other side just to keep it balanced. Right? And while I appreciated the whole “be a peacemaker” sentiment, it never quite seemed fair to me. I mean, I’m a redhead. I’m a fighter. This whole ‘standing down’ stuff isn’t exactly my cup of tea.

But the history channel dude made me understand this a little better.

Pay attention to what the verse actually says. That phrase in the beginning – “resist not evil.” Think about what that means. Don’t resist evil. The word “resist” means to “withstand the effect of.”  Jesus was saying don’t withstand the effect of evil. Don’t just let it happen. Stand there. Resist it. He wasn’t saying just keep beating the hell out of me and I’m going to let you. He was saying, “I’m not budging.”  Keep on throwing your punches, I’m still standing here. Here, throw another punch. Do whatever it is you think that will get me to stand down, but I won’t. No, I won’t retaliate in the way that you are. I won’t fight fire with fire. I won’t abide by the old “eye for an eye” mentality. I am not you. But I will not give up. I’m a pacifist. I don’t believe in that method.  But I will not be moved.

I will not be moved.

Wow.

I don’t know about you, but as I listened this morning, all I could think about was now. Look at what is happening around us. Look at the evil that has come in the form of authority. Look at the status quo of today’s world – the judgment based on who is supposed to be our enemies. We are told that people are different so they must be bad. We are told to judge all by the actions of a few. We are told to build walls. We are told to keep walking by and leave people to die on the side of the street because they are the enemy.

And what would Jesus say about that?

I will not be moved.

I may have to run out and buy myself one of those WWJD bracelets. Because I think I finally get it. And what a crying shame that those in authority who claim to be such God-fearing Christians don’t seem to “get it” themselves.

What would Jesus do?

Well, I can tell you what. It sure as hell wouldn’t be what is happening in our country these days.

Okay, sermon is over.   You’re released.

***

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
– Dalai Lama

 

Let Us Grieve

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
– Bryant H. McGill

***

So, here’s the thing. I have a little favor to ask of you, my fellow Americans. It’s not much. Just a tiny little thing you might be able to do for me.

STOP MINIMIZING OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS.

Okay?

Seriously, y’all. Stop it.  Now.

What does that mean? you ask.  “Minimizing other people’s feelings?” Valid question. So here, let me give you a few examples:

“Stop whining.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Calm down.”

“Get over it.”

If I had a dollar for every variation of those I’ve seen in the past 24 hours, I’d have enough money to advance to the presidency myself.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, okay? Ready?

We don’t give a shit who the president of the United States is.

Yup, there it is. I said it.

Is that not very patriotic of me? Eh, maybe not. But it’s the friggin truth. Are we going to be inviting him over for dinner? Is he going to be babysitting our kids? Giving us marriage advice?  Exchanging presents with us on Christmas Eve?

No. He is nothing to us.

WE DON’T CARE.

But here’s what we do care about.

How the rhetoric and example of the person in the highest, utmost position of honor in our country is going to trickle down to the people we are around every day.

Think it doesn’t really matter?

Think again.

Yesterday, kids all over America asked to stay home from school. I know, because mine was one of them. Were they overreacting? Making a big deal out of nothing?  I don’t know. You tell me.

“I turned out the lights on my third graders at 7:38. They come in my room at 7:35. They were arguing about the election within minutes of walking in my room. I turned out the lights and told them that the election was not going to change how we treated each other and we would not be discussing it. They are eight years old. My class doesn’t fight. They were yelling at each other. If kids are acting this way, how far will adults go?”

These are the words from a THIRD GRADE teacher in our small, rural town in North Carolina today.

Third graders.

A facebook status from a concerned friend of adoptive parents:

“So, I’ve been holding this in all day but would like to share it with you now. A friend of mine and his wife have an adopted son from Central America. He came home scared and confused from school yesterday and said that some kid told him that if Trump wins the election then would be sent back to Mexico. My friends had not discussed Trumps policies with their son so this idea was coming straight from others. Connect the dots. This is simple and basic and real. It’s not some media pundit taking up air time. This is our America and it pisses me off. If you think this a problem in our society and would like to discuss how we can fix it then I welcome your thoughts. If you don’t recognize this as a problem then you are part of the problem…”

Again. Right here in Nowhere, North Carolina.

Or better yet.  Here.  How about this one?

“’Yes, sweet boy, God loves you. I love you too.”’

A co-worker whispered these words in answer to a sobbing student today. A student who was born in America, just like my girls. A student who takes care of his siblings and takes on more responsibility on his shoulders than my girls have ever known.

This student walked into his school today to taunting, “You’re going to be sent back to Mexico.” He buried his scared, hurt face in his teacher’s shoulder, and we found a safe place for him to cry. Through my own tears I said, “Find the good people to hang out with today. There is bad, but there are always good people.” And I prayed in my heart, please God, keep letting the good show up.”

That was a middle-school teacher in our same little rural town.

“Please God, keep letting the good show up.”

We are in the middle of nowhere, people. Obama, Trump, Hillary…those people are never going to step foot in this little town that is so far off of an interstate we barely know how to tell people to get to one. We don’t care which one of them is sitting in the oval office at any given time. We really don’t.

THIS is what we care about.

Each other.

If you think this election doesn’t affect every single person walking across this land we call home, you are sadly mistaken. If you are one that can just shrug it off and go about your business and not let it affect you – hallelujah. Good for you. I’d trade places with you in a heartbeat.

But I’m not.

These parents aren’t.

These teachers aren’t.

These students aren’t.

We are in pain, people. Our country is broken. Our hearts are broken. For lack of a more eloquent term, we are treating each other like shit.

And that hurts.

Some of us cry. Some of us rage. Some of us become smartasses. Some of us hide, some of us fight. We all have different ways of dealing with our emotions, but the underlying emotion remains the same.

Fear.

We are scared. We are petrified. We don’t know what is happening to us because most of us haven’t lived through something like this. This is new to us. Those of us under a certain age don’t remember segregation. Stories of the Holocaust are just stories in a history book. Same with stories of the misplaced Indians (well, unless you’re paying attention to the non-front-page headlines these days). We read those stories and we try to empathize but we weren’t there. We don’t understand it.

But when we see a little Mexican boy crying because his peers are telling him he’s going to be deported to a country he has never even seen?

Yeah. Suddenly, it’s real. We feel that.

If you don’t feel it, if you don’t have to experience it, if you’re not around the people who are acting like this – good for you. Really, good for you. I’m happy for you. I hope the rest of the world catches up to the utopia you’re surrounded by.

But for the rest of us out here?

This is very real.

We are hurting. We are scared.

And we deserve your respect.

americacry