Today I had lunch with a dear friend who I have known since the mid 1970’s. Over the years we rarely (if ever) discussed politics. She knew I was a Democrat and I was aware that she was a Republican. It never affected our friendship or any other aspect of our lives, at least not until Donald Trump ran for President. There were even times over the years when we didn’t vote strictly down party lines but voted for who we thought was best for the country, or best for our state. Mostly we kept pretty quiet about our personal political viewpoints. Perhaps because we were teachers and as educators we knew that personal views on religion or politics were subjects that weren’t appropriate for the classroom or open for discussion in school. Students, teachers, and parents never knew our individual political viewpoints. And it didn’t matter because we were consummate professionals.
But, this last election was different. We both have been retired for a few years now and when things got heated during the election we chose not to discuss the candidates simply because we didn’t want politics to ruin our friendship.
However, today she blurted out a comment that shocked me to the core and made me wonder if that’s how a majority of Republicans feel. Or perhaps how people in general think.
She told me she thought that I worried way too much about everyone and everything and that all she really cared about was what affected her personally. That stunned me! I explained that I felt today, more than ever, we HAD to care about our fellow man if democracy was going to survive. I let her know that while she might not be suffering or discriminated against today, tomorrow it might be her without healthcare or she could be the one excluded from living in certain places due to age discrimination or religious exclusion. I tried to share how wrong bigotry of any kind was, but I still could not get through to her.
I wonder if that’s what has happened to Congress and to many of our citizens in general. That they only care about themselves and what affects them. Not about anybody else. Not even their constituents. and that thought hurts me to the core.
Those are NOT the principles our founding fathers wrote about when they referred to us as “WE THE PEOPLE”. This is not the United States of Lesley or Susie or Teddy. It’s the United States of America and ALL of us matter. We HAVE to care about one another. If we don’t, we not only lose our freedom, we lose our humanity.
I remember seeing a photo taken during WWII where a group of women were stripped naked and they were in a long line waiting to be shot. Their babies clung tightly to their mothers’ chests as they tried to find comfort. Naked, they all stood together. The rich Indistinguishable from the poor. Their only link being that they were Jewish Women.
If WE all stood together naked, hand in hand, what would we see? Nothing but a group of human beings together. Neither rich nor poor, just people. Americans! There would be no major differences between us. We are all human. Some taller, some shorter, some smarter, some prettier, some more athletic, others more talented, but all human beings. We Americans need to unite not fight. In the end we are no better than the next person. We cannot let 45 divide us. That is what dictators do. “WE THE PEOPLE” have no choice but to join hands and unite if we intend to hold on to our precious inalienable rights!