Unity. What does it look like?

By Priscilla Wagner, 2/7/2017

Some of us may be happy, disappointed, or somewhere in between with the state of our current political situation. No matter where you are, one thing I truly hope that comes out of the next two years is that I see more people getting & staying involved with government. Run for office! Get involved with your community! School board! Committees! Subcommittees! Make calls! Write letters!

It is absolutely CLEAR that we cannot continue to only show up one day every two years. I truly, TRULY believe that we are all more alike than we all think. We all want the same basic things; however, may have different ways and ideas on how to get there. I find that more and more we bind ourselves to particular elected officials who will fight for us on our handful of personally important issues, but then these elected officials we get behind make us believe we are so much different than we actually are.

I've seen a lot of division across my friends and family over the Facebook world lately. It's even worse on Twitter where people can hide behind a computer and speak to strangers in 140 characters or less. After a good conversation today with an old friend whom I've always had respectful discourse with, I've realized we all need to take responsibility for our own part in unifying and dividing ourselves on a micro level. I want to do whatever I can on my end to see more unity in my own community, and I am going to take responsibility for my own words and actions. That starts with just that: action. We all need to be more involved with our communities, as much or as often as we possibly can.

We all need to take more responsibility for what happens, and stop relying on our representatives to do everything for us. We cannot just show up on Election Day and then be shocked when things don't go our way.

We also need to stop alienating those on the other side, as we could be doing more damage than we think. I know how emotional and passionate people are about the outcome of this election. I am in the same boat. However, we cannot use this as an excuse to treat our fellow humans as if they are anything less than. I've seen it on both sides: people calling each other names and people just being downright disgusting to each other. We are more divided now than we've ever been before. And we are never going to get past this until we start listening to each other. We may be Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc. But I feel as if we have gotten so stuck behind these labels, we have forgotten the one label we all wear: Americans.

I know for many of us, these seem like hopeless and difficult times. I know for many of us, we feel helpless and discouraged, and as if so much of the progress we've fought tooth & nail for has been demolished. However, we are not doing ourselves any favors by fighting against our fellow citizens. We aren't doing anyone any favors if we don't treat each other with the respect that we'd want them to treat us with. It's time for us to take a pause, take a step back, and listen to one another.

Have a conversation with someone on the other side: a REAL conversation. Not just one where you aren't actually listening, but just thinking about what you are going to say next. We need to start tearing down the walls we've built between ourselves and our fellow Americans. We need to start talking, listening, and being respectful.

I will start with myself. I will call these actions out as I see them. I will get more involved with my community. I will encourage my peers to do the same.

I will follow the advice of President Barack Obama, from his Farewell Address.

"It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed."

I know this might not seem like much - but even if a few of us here locally across party lines stop fighting, start working collaboratively, getting involved, & being active and engaged in our communities...we might be able to make an example for the rest of the country to follow.

Maybe I'm being idealistic, who knows? At the very least, maybe we can start to understand each other better and remember how much we have in common instead of the things we don't.

Check out more of Priscilla's work on her personal blog: PolitickingPriscilla.weebly.com