So apparently there was a march last weekend? Did you hear about it? No big deal, just 2.9 million Americans joined in the streets of over 650 cities across the country. Not to mention all of the people across the world who joined in unison from Tel Aviv to South Africa. Whether you supported it or not it was the largest march in American history with zero arrests to boot. #Fact This isn’t an alternative fact, for the record. I mean, I can’t even go to a Michigan v Ohio State game with that kind of outcome. It was epic. You can argue it, roll your eyes, disagree with furrowed brows, scoff, feign ignorance-whatever you want. If a crowd of peaceful people standing up for what they believe in while wearing pink hats that loosely represent the female genitalia offends you, you probably have more in common with millennials than you think. God, I hope that didn’t offend you.
I was going to explain why I marched and it’s not because I’m pro-abortion or because Trump is #notmypresident. I’m not and he is. As you know, I voted for vodka, but I also understand reality. The sky is blue. You can argue it’s blue because of the reflection of the ocean, but at the end of the day, it’s blue. You can run around screaming about him not being your president until the day you black out, but if you want to speak with historical accuracy and you’re an American, Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States. It may make you want to smash your face into a plate, move to Canada, or just cry tears of hysteric disbelief, but the man who spends entirely too much time on Twitter and has coined the phrase “you’re fired” is now the USA mascot.
So the march happened and social media won’t let you forget it. Opinion pieces from people of all different walks and talks have been read, argued, dissected, and shared. I like to think my take on things is unique and well received but, in hopes of avoiding redundancy, I have decided to write about empathy instead.
As the Navy pilots in Top Gun sang: “you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling”. It has whithered over the years and we are a weaker country for it. We have to be able to find it again because divided, we will fall. I say divided because we have lost our empathy and our ability to flip the perspective. We have lost our desire to connect with one another. Empathy is understanding. It is not sympathy, it is not asking you to change, and it is certainly not asking you to compromise your beliefs but rather inviting you to see the world from another point of view. Empathy is not asking “Am I ok?” – but rather asking “Are WE ok?” Basically, in a nutshell, empathy is the opposite of being selfish. It’s a genuine concern for others. That’s all.
I think if we’ve learned anything this week, it’s that not everyone agrees, which is fine. We are entitled to our morals and our convictions which is a beautiful thing. I know what I believe but not for one second do I think anyone else has to feel the way I feel about anything. You saw how the primaries went down and are surprised the election followed suit? Alrighty then!-a direct quote from Ace Ventura. You think men and women are equal? I’m going to attempt this 5-minute Pinterest DIY while you name all of the women in Congress. Don’t worry, you have plenty of time. You don’t like cheese? Cool. You can’t be trusted but that is your prerogative. Our freedom to choose and think and imagine is a part of what makes America great. We are not a cookie cutter nation. No one wants to live in a world without a challenge or thought provoking conversation. We all possess the desire to be intellectually stimulated and yet, so many of us are unable to have dialogue with one another because we have forgotten the art of conversation. So let me remind you.
Rule #1: it requires a minimum of two people talking. The talking part is important. Rule #2: I may not agree with what you’re saying and you may think I’m a looney toon, but we LISTEN to one another. We try to find the common ground which may not exist, but we TRY. Rule #3: Don’t be an asshole. And by that I mean keep eye rolling, sarcasm (this one is hard), and rude comments to an absolute minimum if you plan on being constructive in any sense of the word. And this is the most important one, drumroll please… Rule #4: Stop trying to do it on Facebook! Period! Especially with people you don’t know! Quit it! I could tie Facebook up in the town square with a scarlet ‘F’ for FAIL as far as social graces are concerned. I suppose all of social media can be blamed for the insane amount of social disorders popping out of the woodwork. We’ve lost our empathy because we are rarely looking into another one’s eyes and it’s a vital part of having productive conversation. Eyes are the window to the soul and when your soul is allowed to connect with another, you’re a bit more cautious, a bit more tactful and a bit more empathetic.
Trust me when I tell you, in everyone’s mind, they’re right. What I find irritating are those people who are so set in their ways and believe everything they say is gold-plated only leaving me to wonder why they ignited the conversation in the first place because it would have been much more effective if they’d just performed their monologue to their own reflection in their bathroom mirror. If you’re not going to listen to what I have to say or don’t care, you have no business striking up a chit chat. Not with this girl. Not only is it rude, but it’s a waste of my time. I could have more meaningful conversations with my toilet. Also, when you don’t listen to someone else during a conversation it makes you look like a stubborn-hotdog-I-want-snozzberries-dingdong.
And if you can’t express yourself in any other way than shoving a YouTube video in my face, you probably don’t have it all worked out in your head. Just saying. My acting teacher always said, if you can’t put your thoughts into your own words, you don’t truly know how you feel. Educate yourself, fact check, and make certain the sources you’re gathering your info from are accurate. There is a complete overload of information at our fingertips, much of which is fabricated. So do yourself a favor and make sure all of the mumbo jumbo in your head wasn’t written by an angsty 20 something living in their parents’ basement eating hot-pockets high on mushrooms…or maybe it was and they have amazing insight. Just be aware.
There is a giant chunk of this country who don’t feel as if they’re are being heard or represented. You may disagree, you may not feel as if you are qualified to form an opinion, you may even feel represented yourself but you can’t ignore the protests of millions and sluff it off as a bunch of people acting out. Not everyone was at that march for the reasons you did not participate or support it. Really let that sentence sink in. Some people were there for causes I was not, but I never once felt like I compromised myself or my purpose for being present. Your brothers and sisters are speaking up. Remember that this a democracy and this is about so much more than you. This is about us. Just as you chose to sit at home, 2.9 million Americans chose not to. As a democratic country, wouldn’t it be in our best interest to understand why instead of shaking your head and calling everyone a crybaby?
Empathize and truly relate to those around you. It’s a part of being human and it’s a part of what love preaches. Love isn’t accepting someone because they finally think the same way you do, love is accepting someone as they are and appreciating what they bring to the table. To love someone is to understand them and if we could all take a moment and understand each other-immigrants, natives, blacks, whites, muslims, christians, the poor, the wealthy, gay, straight, men and women, men who want to be women and vice versa – imagine how powerful it could be. We could be magnificent. We could be invincible. We the people should demand and expect nothing less of ourselves.
A Caucasian 33 year old woman born in Saint Louis, MO – whatever that means to you