Sadly, this election cycle revealed America to be extremely divided.
On both sides of the aisle, there has been violence committed by protesters.
Both candidates have stooped to childish bickering on Twitter and to the use of stereotypes and comments which dismiss and belittle large groups of individuals.
Advocates of a unified country lament that nobody seems willing to compromise, to reach across the aisle and agree on at least something… anything.
But what is there left to agree on?
The Republicans want religious freedom for corporations, privatized insurance industries, mass deportations, lower taxes on the wealthy and fewer restrictions on guns.
The Democrats want affordable birth control and health care, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a welcome for Syrian refugees, less economic disparity and tighter gun restrictions.
There are exceptions to this, of course, but generally speaking, our country has lost a unified goal, a vision of the future toward which every man, woman and child can aspire.
We instead have two visions, and the divide between them is vast and seemingly irreconcilable.
As a liberal, I can’t help but cringe when I hear Donald Trump speak, and my conservative friends are horrified to see someone they consider a traitor to the U.S. ahead in the race.
Each side stands in awe of the other, confused as to how half the country has seemingly lost their minds.
America has fallen into a dark era, full of division and fear.
With a constant stream of social media and 24/7 news coverage, it is easy to get swept up in this political macrocosm of hate. It is easy to let the two-dimensional meme of your opponent soak into your consciousness and to dismiss those whose outlooks seem irreversibly backward compared to what is right and just for the country.
Please consider for yourself a more difficult path. During this semester, make sure to break free of your technology and the IV drip of the “like and share” reinforcement of negativity and division. Spend time in nature and remember the beauty of the world you live in.
Most importantly, consciously strive to connect to human beings in a personal and appreciative way. Take in the wonder of new life, the warmth of friends and family, the small kindness of a stranger.
Take in these moments with silence. Don’t post them as a tweet or a status. Instead, hold them with reverence in your heart.
There has always been violence and division in the U.S. There has always been injustice. Perhaps, there always will be. But alongside that, although sometimes subtle, there has always been and always will be love and compassion, kindness, joy and a magnificent and inspiring landscape. These are universal medicines for every human being, regardless of perspective.
I would argue that if we truly want the best for the next generation, if we truly want to restore the shattered political system, we must start by returning to the simple and pure aspects of life. In this, I believe we will find the elusive compromise we have been seeking in our vision for the future.
Before we can build it with policies, our future must be built with kindness and a love for humanity.