Being a Vet on Veterans’ Day is a humbling and emotional experience. To hear the expressions of thanks and appreciation while at the same time remembering those neighbors, those friends, those high school classmates who gave everything without ever hearing those thank-yous makes it a happy but hard day for those of us who served on the front lines or in supporting roles. Whether we were drafted or enlisted, whether officers or not, we were privileged to serve our fellow citizens and protect our way of life. At the same time in the nations where we fought, we were demonstrating our beliefs and defending those citizens’ right to a voice in how they govern themselves.
As a nation following this election, we need to remind ourselves that it is always about the right to a voice in how we govern ourselves, and how we experience our chosen way of life regardless of race, gender, or belief system. With democracy and our particular form of governance comes the responsibility to work together to find common ground between the opinions and beliefs that separate us, common ground that protects our freedoms and rights and gives us all a voice.
For too many years we have heard the screaming of special interests and certain groups and discounted or shut out a large group of citizens, that group that the news media label as white and uneducated flyover country residents. Since when is a high school graduate considered uneducated? Why is it assumed that this group is racist, bigoted, and homophobic? I think it’s because too many people in our country believe without questioning the story lines and sound bites being fed to them by the intellectual elitists, the news media, and now social media.
Guess what…that long ignored group has found a voice, in the person of President-elect Donald Trump. And those certain groups and special interests are reacting like spoiled children and throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get their way and didn’t get to continue to ignore a large group of citizens who have just as much right to a voice in how the USA governs itself. Yes, folks, we ARE ALL in this together!
Secretary Clinton and President-elect Trump both got it right in their speeches on Wednesday. It’s time to start listening to each other and find the common ground that allows us to respect all points of view and continue to build on this great experiment we call the United States of America. It’s time for our politicians on both sides of the aisle in all our governing bodies to rediscover the art of civil discourse and compromise that will move us forward. Neither conservatives or liberals (including those who call themselves progressives) have a corner on the right way.
The right way isn’t represented by any ideology. The right way is that common ground that protects our right to live the lives we choose in a way that doesn’t hurt someone else, to set reasonable boundaries for our activities and behaviors, to govern ourselves in a way that provides for our defense and for those of us who are incapable of providing for themselves, to manage our behaviors through a constitution and laws upheld by our judiciary, and to express ourselves and live our faith freely and openly, no matter what our opinions and beliefs may be.
It’s about time that we all grow up, treat each other with dignity and respect, stop screaming at and start listening to each other, and look to ourselves for sources of truth that transcend the sound bites offered by the news media and the intellectual elitists. That is the nation I serve and believe in.