I hear you. I hear you saying that following the rules is the answer. I hear you saying that more guns are the answer. I hear you saying that black lives aren’t the issue. I hear you saying you want to build a wall. I hear you saying you want less color, less gay, less diversity. I hear you saying that the world you want is one of defensiveness, Darwinism, and solitude. I hear you saying that the America you’re voting for, pushing for, and hoping for is one where I take my kids to the movies with a gun, feel cautious and uncertain around black men, withdraw in fear from Muslims, and choose inalienable rights and freedoms over joy, hope, and peace. I hear you. I do not understand, I do not agree, but I hear you.
And I know you hear me. You hear me saying that no amount of rule breaking justifies any of this. You hear me saying that I don’t want more guns. You hear me saying that black lives are the issue. You hear me saying that I want more color, more gay, and more diversity. You hear me saying that the world I want is one of compassion, inclusion, empathy, and community. You hear me say that the America I’m voting for, pushing for, and hoping for is one where I take my kids to the movies with popcorn, feel camaraderie with black men, recognize the terror that my Muslim neighbors endure, and choose and adaptation, evolution, and compromise over militance, blind liberty, and stagnation. You hear me. You do not understand, you do not agree, but you hear me.
And this is our fundamental problem. We hear, but we do not agree. We want a different version of America. We are pulling mercilessly, tirelessly in different directions. We speak our truths to like-minded individuals, we commiserate with those who believe our side of the story, agree with our vision of America. Even in our rare agreements with our decided “foes,” we are quickly becoming enemies. Our frustrations and fears are slowly getting the better of us. These disagreements have leaked off of the pages of newspapers and Facebook feeds and seeped into our relationships. They have poisoned friendships, caused comrades to sling silent insults at one another. Our political differences, our social beliefs have divided us so far that we argue over the relative value of human life. We barter humanity like goods at market. We play God. We have created a theater out of our existence. Our original differences are unrecognizable. They are shrouded in rhetoric, defensive remarks, convenient facts.
You call me liberal. You find me soft, unrealistic, and absurd. But I cannot even call you conservative. Because you, who I am talking to, you are not conservative. You are hard, unrealistic, and disassociated.
But what happens next? Will our shouts and screams slowly quiet? Will our rage and frustration slowly change to indifference? Will our indifference slowly choke us? Will we become so tired of holding our ground that we become our congress, arguing to fill space and time until nothingness becomes the goal? What happens to a nation when progress stopped? When equality is not longer at the the agenda? What happens if we take a step back and realize that we have irreconcilable differences?
Do we wage war on ourselves? Is that not what we are already doing?
I hear you say you will not compromise. And frankly, I will not either. I cannot agree to compromise any longer. I signed up for Rosa’s dream, King’s dream, Milk’s dream, Anthony’s dream. I signed up for the dream that was born of a desire for ongoing progress, equality, justice, and change. I signed up for the dream that suffered the consequences of a nation built on fear of one oppressor while ignoring the presence of hundreds. Our nation is not oppressed, but our citizens are. Citizens who did not have a seat on the Continental Congress. Citizens who were needed for their contributions, but not their voice.
And I am lost and angry and sad. How many times can we knock at the door before we give up? Or do we give up? Do we walk away or do we fight? Because to fight we need hope.
And what hope remains?
Show me that hope remains.