Revelations hit you at the most random of times, sometimes when you are taking your two-year old lab on the same short walk around the block and pass the same woman for the eightieth time, and she says hello to you for the first time, by the wrong name, and warmly as if she has known you for years. If the force I felt had manifested itself physically, I would have been knocked right down on my bottom. As it did not, I simply smiled, and said, “Hello”, with the same warmth.
I realized something about myself in that moment, I am a judgmental bitch. I was shocked because I pride myself on not being a judgmental bitch at all. In fact, I worked in social services for over twenty years, and I and others would have described me as the most nonjudgmental person ever. So in the moment, I was ashamed of myself. I looked at that woman’s face, and I liked her. I felt empathy for her, and I was honestly ashamed of myself for feeling that I had thought for even one moment that I had the right to judge her.
I am not saying that woman has a mental illness. I don’t know her. I am saying that she is a human being with a lifetime of experiences, joy, and pain, and instead of judging her based on the sign she has in her front yard saying to stay out of her yard, which I found annoying, I looked at her today, and saw a human being with a beautiful home that she took immense pains and pride in keeping neat and pretty. I was disappointed in myself for not seeing the human being behind the sign long ago.
I have looked beyond so many things in the past in my years of helping others: anger, pain, sadness, shyness, anxiety, poor hygiene, swearing and shouting at me, among others, and I saw, loved, and cared for the person. I had empathy for the person. I need to get back into that mindset. I will. I hope we all can.
Now I know I have said some harsh things about Trump supporters, and I have to be honest, I’m not ready to go all peace and love here. I still judge anyone who voted for Trump. I never said I was a saint, and I don’t strive to be. I still honestly, believe that anyone who voted for Trump, voted for hate, and it will harm anyone who isn’t a white man. It will also harm the most vulnerable of us including children. I have always been protective of children because I was a child that was abused. I was not protected, so I know that as a society we must work together to keep children safe. I will not shut up about that. I will not back down.
I was thinking today that this crisis of the election of a man who hates so many people has brought together so many people who never spoke in-depth before about their pain and their experiences. Someone else said this, and I wish I could remember who could attribute it to them: Pain is what we all have in common. Please tell me if you recognize this as I do want to. People feel pain. When we listen to each other’s stories, we understand each other’s pain. If we really listen, not to respond, not to make a point, not to say, “but my pain was worse than your pain.” If you really listen, you will feel and often, you will cry, but you will learn.
Since shortly before election day I have been honored to be part of a group that has shared story after story of both the pain and joy of life experiences. I have cried, and I have laughed. I have learned. I have been touched at the capacity for love and reaching out and supporting and helping others.
I was shocked to see that I also said to a person of color, yes but. I never imagined I had that in me. So I stepped back, shut up, apologized and said, “I am listening.”
She said that people need to stand up in the moment when people say racist things and say that it’s not acceptable.
I found I immediately defended the white woman who was doing the best she could in reporting racist remarks. I needed to shut up and listen. I wasn’t the one that had listened to these remarks my whole life without anyone saying anything.
I’m a sexual assault survivor. If a man mansplained to me how a sexual assault survivor felt about being assaulted, I would be mad as hell. We all have our life experiences, good and horrific.
There was a person on our page who had been homeless. I have no idea how that feels. Guess what homeless people need? Socks.
How easy would it be to provide some free, new, clean socks in a newspaper box, inside some zip lock bags in your neighborhood, and put a note in there, for the homeless if needed. People’s feet get wet and they get cold. No one wants that. Also homeless women need products for when they are having their periods. So maybe carry new socks and maybe some small snacks and water bottles, tampons, or pads, in large zip lock bags in your car and just hand them out if you see someone who needs them. These are just ideas that come up as we talk.
I have always prided myself on being respectful, even when a mentally ill client or their relative was shouting at or being rude to me, even when an abused child was shouting or swearing at me when angry or emotional. I have had an ability to remain calm. I have had the ability to help children and adults to get through a crisis, to support them through it. Respect and kindness are my values. I still have those values.
I have also been direct. I still am. I say what I mean and mean what I say, but I do everything I can to say it directly. It does not mean I will take your abuse. I will respectfully but directly tell you what I mean. I will tell you directly but respectfully not to be rude or disrespectful or racist or sexist or homophobic or hateful in your speech in any way. I did this when I worked with abused children. I did it when I worked with adults. I do it now, and it will continue.
Please, let’s talk to each other to listen, to learn, and to support, and help with respect and kindness. We are all in this together whether we want to be or not. I have had polite, respectful conversations on Facebook and Twitter with people who supported and voted for Trump. We may still disagree on who we voted for, but we can discuss topics like how women are treated in public with respect or at least we can try because we are all human beings. I have also been sarcastic to some people. Yes, I admit it. Sometimes I lost my patience. I don’t like it, to say the least, when people are rude.
However, I think it’s important that we keep trying to communicate. Using respect, kindness, and uniting to fix the mess that has been made in this election is important. Please remember that everyone is still feeling their emotions so strongly. This election has been like no other. People are scared about what will happen. People are scared about what is happening now. Everyone handles anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, and pain in different ways. I hope we all try to support each other in whatever ways that we can.
I honestly believe that Trump’s campaign and election were intentional in dividing our nation. Please don’t let it continue. Please work together. Everyone who is on the same side and wants America to be a good, positive, supportive, loving place where everyone has rights and feels safe, we have to work together and keep talking respectfully to make that happen. There are so many of us and together, we can fix this mess.
If you have ideas to help others, please post them in the comments.
Let’s keep the conversations going. Share your stories. Let’s fix this mess. Thank you for reading my words. I’d love to read yours.