Last night I had a dream that I was home with my children, and we heard a ruckus outside.
The kids looked out the screen door to see what it was, and a huge, angry dog came thrashing at them, viciously barking and jumping up to tear at the screen. Like a mama bear, I stood up, came to full height and with all the power of the earth underneath, I moved my kids out of the way. I fearlessly looked the dog in the face and made such a loud roar that it woke me up.
I know I roared out loud, because, in the sudden piercing silence, I could feel it my chest and throat.
As I lay there trying to get back to sleep, I heard a noise outside. It kept going, every minute or so. It took me a while to realize because I don’t hear this noise often, that it was the hoot of an owl. It went on a long time. But I already knew what it meant.
In my life, I have been a connector of sorts. The person you can tell your problems to who will listen then will give you advice or the resources you may need to move forward. I have made a career out of figuring out the issues and problems in communities and connecting people. Hearing their individual stories and connecting them to others, creating solutions together, and celebrating our successes.
I can grow to understand almost any type of person, no matter who they are, how confused they may seem to others, how sheltered they are, how radical, scared, hurt, or tired.
But I’m tired too. It’s been a long fight to make a difference and frankly, I’m exhausted.
I’m not going to bash our President-elect, and I’m not going to start bashing in windows either. I’m going to say a thing or two because the owl asked me to.
I hear you.
I hear you all.
I hear the people on both extremes.
While I don’t agree with everyone, I hear you. I wish our leaders could say that too, but with all the noise in the media and our minds, that message couldn’t even get through if it tried.
Yeah, I cried after the election. For two days. Not because I lost or I’m a cry baby or sore loser. I cried because I’m scared. I felt like the school bully who yells insults on the playground just won our highest leadership position.
This person isn’t of one party or the other (although he ran under the flag of one) and nobody is sure what his policies will be or what he wants to do. In fact, I think he feels the same way!
I’m scared not only for myself and my family and friends, but I’m also scared for the people who voted for him.
I’m scared for our worldwide presence and leadership.
I’m scared that all the work I have done for communities might just go down the drain.
I’m scared we hired a pilot who didn’t go to flight school and had never flown a plane. A dentist is about to work on my tooth, but he didn’t go to dental school and had never held the drill. I hope to a higher power that, like a child actor with wealth and success, he can surround himself with the right people to advise him.
Can you imagine the wolves that must me circling right now?
And here we are, on social media, tearing each other apart like packs of wolves in each other’s territory.
People who are flawed, all telling each other who is right, who is wrong. Repeating things they’ve heard time and again to each other.
Individuals with no political experience throwing authoritative statements around, like problems are as easy to solve as snapping a finger. People born with privilege telling others to grow up. People with religion are judging others. People who have never traveled making worldly statements. People with money are laughing. People who are scared – baring their teeth and claws.
Fear creates the angriest of all monsters.
I don’t know everything, but one thing I do know is this: if you want something to change, or you want to make this world a better place for all, you have to start with yourself. You have to be that person.
That person who will hold the door open for someone.
That person who will say “excuse me.”
That person who will pick up the item the old lady dropped.
That person who will smile at a passerby.
That person who will offer a shoulder to cry on, and perhaps hardest of all – will have the optimism and faith that we will get through this.
Even if it gets hard, most people are good. Surround yourself with good people. Tune out the bad noise and be careful if you listen to the news all the time, or spend hours scrolling social media news feeds. Sure, they’re entertaining, but they’re also full of harmful energy and might just drag you down into a dark hole.
Here’s the toughest one of all. People who are nothing like you – might be more like you than you think.
If you are on extreme radical ends of the political spectrum, there’s one thing this election showed me, you are both stuck and unmoving.
You are set in your ways; ears closed, fists up, and you will get nowhere like that.
People get a lot more done when they fight with ears and hearts open. It’s not easy or pretty, and it’s a gnarly, complicated, exciting, and frustrating job, but it’s the only way to get things done.
Let us recognize the importance of the leadership of the United States.
If you’ve never traveled or are stuck in your bubble, you may not understand this just yet. America was already pretty great. Yes, we have our problems but to others, the U.S. is a worldwide leader.
When something major happens in the world, many countries look to the U.S. to see what we will do. We provide help in times of need, words in times of trouble, protection in times of war, opportunity in times of doubt.
There are political, economic, strategic, collaborative, and emotional reasons why we are relevant to the world. Don’t let your fears about your finances and well-being shadow that fact.
I laugh when people compare the U.S. to a small European country. We aren’t that. We are a massive melting pot, remember?
We are a newer country made up of all types, creeds, cultures, backgrounds, colors, languages, religions, values, and dreams. It’s a big house, with a lot of siblings fighting – but we’re all here together now.
On the other side of the spectrum, America is not so great.
We’re not good at listening to each other; we don’t notice each other for our experiences and stories.
We’ve stopped allowing each other to be who we are and say what we want.
We’ve allowed leaders to divide us.
We’ve allowed greed to guide us.
We’ve forgotten our manners.
We are defensive and afraid.
We are losing hope, and we are tired.
I wish I could end this on a high note with some incredible words of wisdom. But true wisdom is admitting you don’t know the answers to everything.
This is that time, the time to stop pretending we know it all, and listen to each other.
We have to listen, learn and hear each other’s stories before we can think creatively and openly about what to do next. I hear the people who are different than me.
I hear the young white boy feeling like nobody notices him and everyone bullies him, while he stockpiles his guns.
I hear the young black man hoping to get out alive and well.
I hear the mothers crying for their children.
I hear the middle-class American family, angry at the future for forgetting them.
I hear the gay couple, together 25 years, wanting to be treated equally.
I hear the disabled woman having to explain, still.
I hear the youth chanting for a change.
I hear the Christian father wanting to keep his family values intact.
I hear the small business owners with their hands tied.
I hear the police officer wanting to protect.
I hear the Muslim and the Mexican, simply wanting to be hardworking American citizens without having to prove or explain something.
I hear the senior citizen and the veteran, afraid for their future because their hard work has been dismissed.
I hear the women roar with power.
I see the children with hope in their eyes.
And I hear you, owl.I hear you loud and clear.
Despite the fact that I’m tired and weary, I will not lose hope.
I will continue to connect people and fight in this time of considerable uncertainty, and I will continue to share what I hope is a small bit of wisdom.
Because we are all worth it.