To you, my fellow American,

I have been grieving for the past few days, or longer even.  Before you assume why, hear me out.

I've seen a lot of people both posting about why they marched yesterday and also asking why people marched in the first place. I've seen defensiveness about not marching. I've seen derision for the marchers and assumptions about their motives.

For me, the need to march was to signal the start of my get-off-the-screen-and-into-the-street participation in our great political experiment: democracy. 

At 35, I feel like I'm standing in the gap between generations, seeing the wild passion of the younger set and their idealism, and also the wisdom of those ahead of me, whose life-knowledge spans more history, both cultural and personal, lending them credibility of a different sort.  

The trick is, we need BOTH. 

For too long we've bought into this polarizing "us/them" language, finding refuge and identity in having a team.  But that divisiveness hurts us as a nation.  It's true that there have always been differences and political parties. As humans, we see myriad solutions to the problems we face as a society. That's a boon, not a bane. 

But it is woefully dangerous to lose sight of that yin/yang power to move us toward progress. By warring AGAINST one another, we lose the ability to fight TOGETHER for the ISSUES we all know need our utmost attention and smarts, like Education, and Poverty.

There is a Buddhist teaching that anger is the same energy in our body as higher intelligence.  We must learn to funnel that energy to the issues at hand, rather than at one another.  Our need for team rallying is best kept for organized sports.... think: March Madness!

The political reality is that we need each other to make this democracy thing work. 

Are you a stay-at-home-mom?  We need you!

Are you a single-dad with 3 jobs and too much on your plate? We need you!

Are you an immigrant, excited to be here and proud of what you can offer our country? We need you!

Are you a minority, feeling threatened or oppressed? We need you!

Are you a teacher in a city with a classroom as diverse as a rainbow?  We need you!

Are you a teacher in a suburb with a classroom that's more homogenous, but full of bright, beautiful children? We need you!

Are you out of college and working a decent job, but facing a decade of student loan payments? We need you!

Are you a white male? Guess what, we need you too!

See where I'm going with this?  It's our differences that make us best able to find creative solutions to our social problems, solutions that one viewpoint couldn't possibly see.

In her book Fierce Conversations, Susan Scott puts it like this... if each of us is standing on a colored stripe of a beach ball, when you ask us what our reality looks like, we'll reply "red" or "blue" or "yellow"... and the truth is, the world IS that color for us. The failing comes when we can't acknowledge that another person's reality may be an entirely different color because they are on a different part of the beach ball.

We have to hone our ability to LISTEN to one another when our realities clash.  When our reactions are always defensive, judging, name-calling, derision, bullying or whining, we will continue to widen the chasm.

We CAN be better! We MUST be better.

Most of us know that real life, off Facebook and Twitter, it isn't "left" or "right" but compromise, integrity, and compassion.

I marched because we need to work together and I'm honestly frightened about the direction of this country. Not because I happen to disagree with the GOP platform, but because we seem UNABLE TO WORK TOGETHER. 

The tenor and tone of politics is angry, bullying and divisive, from both sides.  We sneer at those with whom we disagree.  We are more like a wrecking-ball than a plow.  Both machines have to tear things up a bit, but one is out for utter demolition, while the other is doing the work to grow something that nourishes.

No matter how you felt about the election, or the marching, I implore you, my fellow American, to take up the mantle of unity. We have a wonderful, beautiful nation, but we are not without problems and difficulties. Let's face the ISSUES together and SOLVE them. 

Let's get out from behind our screens, out from behind our sides of the fence and get to know people that have differing view points. Let's share a meal, a coffee, a beer.

Take a vow to stop clicking on or reposting things that are full of hate-language and name-calling. 

Let's take a stand where we must (not calling on anyone to abandon their convictions) but let's do so with fierce compassion, not hatred.

Our nation was founded to foster and celebrate our diversity and we are entrusted with the responsibility to work together for our communities. We cannot allow our different realities, back-grounds, colors, orientations, religions, income-brackets, or anything else to become an excuse to slide backward into tribalism.

Let's LISTEN to each other, SPEAK with integrity and kindness and UNIFY. We will still disagree, but let's restore a sense of respect and manners to our discourse.

To make this democracy thing a success, we MUST compromise and find that hard-won, blood-stained, freedom-claimed COMMON GROUND that has always and WILL ALWAYS be what truly makes America great.

 

Love always,

Sam Wedelich