The election is over. The inauguration is over. Yet, anger rages on.

News pundits, Hollywood-types, and politicians who think they are Hollywood-types are saying things like, “we have no hope” or “we’ve hit the bottom of the barrel.” The phrase “Not My President” has been shouted and tweeted as a mantra of people who just can’t face facts. The general consensus by the liberals is that we need to hunker down, hold our breath, and wait out the next four years in fear. And, while doing that, they will spread messages of doom, continue to protest in anger and violence, and rip the divides between us even bigger and more jagged.

In the past months I have seen people, who have the luxury of being heard, say and write the most terrible, inciteful words against their fellow citizens simply because they don’t like their viewpoint. I understand and I am grateful for the right of free speech, especially as I sit here typing this post. What people fail to understand, however, is that free speech applies to everyone, not just people who think alike or people in positions of power. Not everyone has the opportunity to speak, so consistently we only hear one opinion. But, make no mistake; there is definitely more than one opinion.

When I was about 20 years old, I learned a very simple, but valuable lesson. I was in a training meeting for work and was expressing my opinion on policies. The trainer looked at me very pointedly and said, “Not everyone thinks the way you do.” Unfortunately, that message took some time to sink in, but when it did, it was like an epiphany, and all the sudden I understood. It’s OK to have opinions, but it’s so very important to listen to those of others. Listen to the opinion, and also the reasons behind the opinion. We all have different backgrounds and different goals for ourselves and our families. No two people have had the same experience and we can all learn from one another. If we just listen.

People by human nature like to make connections. We do this through communication, often by sharing opinions about the situations around us. The key is to ensure the proper time and place and to maintain a productive, civil conversation. It is not OK to be hateful, judgmental, forceful, demeaning, or intimidating. Talking about tolerance while being intolerant, talking about love and inclusion while spreading a message of hate will only divide us further.  We have the right to free speech, and we have a responsibility speak with respect, dignity, and love.

As for the next four years, I refuse to live in fear. I will pray for our President and I will do what I can to support my fellow Americans. We have all worked with bosses, teachers, or other authority figures with whom we disagreed or felt were unqualified. We did what was necessary to succeed. If we had rioted, refused to work, or verbally insulted the leader we would have failed not just ourselves, but everyone involved. President Trump is our leader and we must, as Americans, support him and pray for his leadership, or we fail.

 

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