At Least I Know I’m Free…Right?

When I was a youngster, no older than eight or nine years old, I took piano lessons. I practiced (begrudgingly) on a daily basis and even threatened to run away if forced to continue learning the instrument. Eventually my mother agreed to let me stop and so I did…a decision that I have kicked myself for many times since becoming an adult, but that’s another story for another day. During my short time bonding with the keys; however, I learned a special song, one even to this day, I still catch myself humming on occasion. I woke up this morning with that song burning in my mind, and as I allowed the words to run through my mind…(“And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the U.S.A.”)…I began to think about the last several months leading up to Tuesday’s monumental election and what has continued to transpire since the outcome.

Friday before the election, my husband and I went to our local polling place and stood in a long line of people in order to cast an early vote. Who we voted for is not the content of this blog nor is that information important. What I will say is that we came to our decision after a lengthy process which included a great deal of researching both candidates, prayer and much conversation. While I am not arrogant to believe everyone should have voted in my foot steps because I voted for the “right candidate,” I do believe I made the best choice for my particular situation and my particular set of beliefs, and I voted for the candidate who I believed was right for me.

While in line waiting to vote, I conversed with my husband about how different things would be if there were armed soldiers present or if we were in a country where there really is no freedom to vote as a person believes. I began to think about how those men and women who died for my right to vote and for my freedom to speak my mind would have felt about the way we as Americans have treated one another during this election time. Would they peruse our Facebook status updates and smile at the love being shown regardless of the person’s political viewpoint, or would they shake their heads in shame and wonder if the way we have treated one another was really worth the sacrific of their lives?

I personally have been so disappointed and sometimes even offended at the way people have chosen to use their freedom of speech. We have been throwing around the words “those dumb Republicans” or “Stupid Democrats” in such a flippant manner as if those terms aren’t connected to anyone we know. But the reality is, the person you sit next to at work everyday or the neighbor you smile and wave at in the morning, your best friend from childhood or the sweet couple you chat with on your way out of church…could actually fit into one of those categories. The cruel words have been endless and yet we just assume that now the election is over we can go back to business as usual and all just get along…one big, happy dysfunctional family.

I have been so disheartened over the behavior of my “Facebook Friends,” and I was hopeful that once the election was over we could begin to resume life as normal, but now, days later I’m still reading about how people can’t believe how stupid Americans are for voting for the president again or how others are gloating about their win despite the crazy Republicans who were brave enough to vote for the man they thought was their best choice to turn the country around. So the question on my mind tonight and the question I pose to you my friends is when is it all enough? When do we shake hands and agree to disagree and move on with our individual lives? At what point do we realize that in our own burst of passion we are bringing hurt to people we care about, intentionally or otherwise? I wasn’t 100% uplifting in my own thoughts and speech while watching the debates during the campaign…I got caught up in the “us and them” mentality at times, so this blog is as much about challenging myself as it is about encouraging those around me to be different than the norm. From this point on, we have a choice in how we speak to and about one another…we have a choice to unite as one and face the future as a kind and motivated nation…we have a choice to not only exercise our right to vote as an act of our gratitude to those who died for our freedom to vote, but we owe it to those men and women to conduct ourselves in a compassionate and loving manner, so that when the world looks to us they will see a people who truly understand what their sacrifice was for. Afterall, “At Least I know I’m Free…Right?”