I find it necessary to speak out about the election in hopes of finding positive connections in the midst of the chaos and grieving of so many. As a classroom teacher my stomach ached as I drove to work Wednesday, wondering what in the world I would say to the students as they celebrated or lamented our future president.
First of all, I am excited that my students even care about the future president of The United States of America. At their age, I was so self-absorbed I couldn’t possibly realize how much more important anyone else was than I was (still fairly true about me even today!). I love that they care. They may not always care for the right reasons, they may simply regurgitate what they hear at home, but at least they recognize that something big just happened.
Secondly, I have seen the value of speaking one’s mind. If nothing else, a conversation commences in which two or more people can hopefully explain their opinions with evidence and learn from one another. These are the types of conversations I promote in my classroom every single day, and I love that we have a new forum in which to practice these skills.
I do wonder, however, where these skills went wrong. Just the other night I had a person whom I went to high school with attack me for my political beliefs. Though our friendship wasn’t exactly strong to begin with, I was saddened that because we did not see eye-to-eye on political matters that he felt it appropriate to call me nasty names. I don’t find it dramatic to grieve over this election in a healthy manner because it’s a loss. We allow people to grieve other losses like sports competitions, so why is it being rebuked to briefly grieve a candidate whom you did not agree with ideologically and then move on? (Because, whether we like it or not, we have to move on.) I’m sad that he felt it alright to call me a “crybaby” when he had first reached out and asked me whom I voted for anyway.
My hope is that we can use these next four years to address the many issues in our country while reflecting on areas in which we are great. I am encouraged that the youth of our country are speaking up and taking action. Furthermore, I am happy they are doing it in a curious, reflective, justice-seeking manner and not the nasty attack I received from an alleged “friend.” We need to learn how to have challenging conversations, give and receive loving correction, and assert our opinions without chastising those with different opinions. Ultimately, how we act is the example we are setting for future generations, and I hope it is a good one.