On Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton
I'm like you. I've been preparing my soul for one of two outcomes next week. I'm bracing myself for all the things that don't make sense. I'm storing nuggets of hope into my bucket to pull out. I'm getting ready, like you, for history to be made -- a non politician who defied all odds president or our first female president.
I want to talk to you about Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton -- but from a perspective that puts you in the drivers seat.
Next Tuesday, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll go to your assigned polling location. You’ll show your ID, get your ballot and proceed to the tiny little open box that is suppose to give you privacy and vote. You’ll stare at your ballot thinking "this is the most important decision I will make for myself, for the future of my nation, for my children and my grandchildren". You’ll feel the weight. Put pen to paper and bubble in that oddly shaped oval to cast your vote for your candidate.
Have you noticed the rhetoric? You've heard it: "if Trump wins the presidency, his win will bring on the apocalypse". Or "If you put Hilary in office, you'll get more lies and corruption". You've also heard, "Trump will make America great again". Or "This country is stronger together with Hilary in office". "African Americans will be better off with a Clinton administration". "We'll build a wall. Repeal and replace Obamacare. Fix what's wrong with America with Trump as our leader". And I am sure you can think of more.
I have a problem with all of the above statements and ones like it. I've seen them all repeated on news shows and news feeds. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (my beloved). Each time they are stated and repeated, my insides turn. The problem with those statements and the belief in them is that we are becoming such a powerless people.
You cannot throw all of the weight of the health and progress of your community into one man or woman.
My hope does not rest in either candidate.
I believe that you in your locality are the greatest influence and catalyst to continue building a strong America. It's a matter of taking personal responsibility for all the things that we gripe over -- those things that we sit on our couch and complain about on our Facebook status. Can you imagine an America that got off Facebook for a moment and decided, instead of arguing, I'm going to go and contribute to the solution?
It's happening all across America already.
Terry Patton, principle at Franklin Square Elementary & Middle school in Baltimore, understands that education is the key to her students' success. This is why she impresses on them to be at school everyday. But this can be a challenge. When she learned that some students don't show up to school because they can't afford clean school clothes, she found a way to get a washer and dryer donated to her school so that parents can drop of school clothes to be washed. When she found out that some students have a hard time showing up on time because they have no clocks in their home, she bought clocks out of her own money and gave it to families. Franklin Square Elementary & Middle school has half the absentee rate as the rest of the school district thanks to the efforts of Terry Patton.
This week, my church held an outreach where we invited the children in our community to come to our Fall Festival where they were able to play, get free candy and have family time in a fun safe environment.
I've been in meetings with the community relations director of the Tampa Bay Rays who grew up on the south-side of Saint Petersburg now in a position to mentor and inspire young students and does. He attends many community meetings and is a part of the Big Brother Big Sister program here.
One of CNN Heroes of the Year in 2015 leads a dance school for young girls in Detroit where she instills self value and worth in an effort to curb teen pregnancy and suicide.
I just read an article where a 16 year old Carolyn Hampton developed an app called Sit With Us, an app that students can coordinate lunches with friends. And get this, if you sit alone, you can jump on the app and find ambassadors, other students, at your school who'd love for you to join them at their table. All in an effort to stop teen bullying.
Those are just some examples of being present in your locale.
Being present doesn't mean you have to do something huge to have influence. Sometimes it's simply a matter of holding a conversation with someone before going to your corner to trumpet your political ideology. Sometimes, it means when you hear someone say, "Black Lives Matter" or "Blue Lives Matter" you take a moment to acknowledge that they have an opinion and ask them about their unique perspective on it. Do you know that, if we all take a beat and engage one another, affirming each other in love and respect, the tone and the rhetoric that we see and hear and feel could be lessened?
We live in a time where we all have platforms. Your platform may be a stage. Maybe it's a business. Or a corner in your neighborhood where everyone gathers. Maybe it's Facebook. What if rather than spreading the vicious painful words or pictures or catch phrases, you began to promote beautiful things on your platform?
Contribute to positive progress rather than divisive stagnation.
What if you began serving in your community? What local project can you rally around? What small businesses can you begin to support and celebrate and promote and partner with? What does your church have to offer when it comes to outreach or inreach? When was the last time you got to know your local police officers and allowed them to get to know you? Can you serve local educators -- buying them lunch or classroom supplies or sprucing up their campus?
Finally let's simplify things further, what core values are you teaching and upholding in your home? Are you raising good, responsible citizens who care and love their neighbor?
Listen, it takes all of us to shift the mood and the trajectory of our nation. It takes all of us in our locality. It takes all of us to be responsible and to care about our fellow human beings. It takes all of us to fill the gap between ideals and opinions with love and conversation. Take personal responsibility. Don’t give away your power.
This election doesn't get to dictate your happiness, your finances, your education, your life. Sure, those who make it into office enact laws and such but you have the ultimate power over your life. Live humanly. Serve one another. Love your neighbor. Be powerful knowing that you call the shots.
So who should you vote for? I can't tell you that. I can say vote your conscience and convictions. Then, get to work in your locality, in your community and know that you are powerful.