So proud of our daughter-in-law. Below are Katrina’s post-election thoughts.
“How are we going to put hate back in the bottle?” I asked my mother-in-law a few weeks ago. The presidential campaign had been unprecedented in terms of the nasty, personal attacks, not only on those in the political arena but also war heroes, immigrants, journalists, women, and the list goes on and on. Those of us who are still drying our tears from the outcome know there will be a lot of serious work to do in the coming years. But there is one thing we can all do right now.
The other day I was in the Costco parking lot, often a scene of raised voices and honking over limited spaces. But on this day, I witnessed grace. An older white woman was pushing an overloaded cart, unaware that a large package of toilet paper had fallen off as she struggled toward her car. Two young women in head scarves called after her and they all laughed as they balanced the large package and helped her on her way.
When my younger son broke his arm, his big brother (who is more likely to tackle his sibling than hug him) cleaned his room, made his bed, and carefully picked and laid out an outfit for him to wear the next day. In college, I was on one side of a protest of a very divisive, emotional issue. There were signs, yelling and high tension on this hot summer day, each group camped out on opposite sides of a road. The other side started pouring cups of lemonade and passing them out to their supporters. Then one of them came over and started sharing the drinks with us. The animosity melted away. We remained diametrically opposed to each other’s positions, but not to each other. Kind words and thanks were exchanged. Then we went back to our sides and picked up our signs.
We need to love and respect each other even if we don’t love and respect each other’s positions. Think of the political issue you care the most about and why you feel that way. It is likely that it comes down to protecting those whom we love. Although it is difficult to see, chances are those on the opposing side of your position are also motivated by a desire to protect the ones they love. Disagreeing with one another in a respectful way is okay, in fact, it’s critical that we stand up for what we believe in, protect those who are being bullied, and call out those who sow hate. But we must act with kindness and respect.
It’s okay to start small. So today, let the person in the grocery store with one item go ahead in line. Stop your car for the mother with her stroller waiting to cross the street. Kneel down to the level of a child and really listen to what they are saying.
When my friend Ellen was visiting recently, I was telling her about the neighbor that wasn’t friendly, that supported causes I found abhorrent. The next day we encountered her in her yard and Ellen gave her a friendly “hello!” and a wave. I whispered “But that’s the woman!”. “I know,” she said. She was just being kind and it disarmed the woman, who smiled and waved back. Let us all be like Ellen today and in all the days to come. Be strong, stand up for what you believe in, don’t give up, but be kind. It’s catching.
And it’s what our country desperately needs right now.