The overwhelming impression that I get from all of this is that many people are angry, worried and/or scared. Of what, I can't rightfully say. But of something--some nebulous and unspoken force that lurks in the dark, waiting to jump out and attack. It saddens me that people feel like this and yet I understand it to a degree. The world is different now. There are several real problems that need to be addressed. It's a global economy that drives the market, but still the United States that sets the tone and our economy is floundering. Dangerous countries condemn us in our democracy. Wars are waged throughout the world, in which two of them our troops are directly involved. Global warming and climate change bring their own very real challenges as does the energy crisis. Add to this the constancy of the 24 hour news cycle and I can understand that people may feel overwhelmed. The media is always looking for a story, the more sensational the better, it seems. Yes, there are some real threats. But, pundits and commentators play up our fears and prejudices, not to our advantage, in ways that were impossible just several years ago. While I understand the reasons for them, I don't feel that fear and anger are helpful in facing these challenges. In truth, the world has always been a dangerous place for some.
I think my overwhelming sentiment is a feeling of sadness regarding all of this. I'm sad that people are so unhappy and insecure--that they have such a lack of trust in people who they believe are different from them. I'm saddened by the angry outbursts directed at me, a stranger just volunteering some of her time. I don't understand why we can't disagree without being disagreeable and attempt to work toward solutions without being divisive. To me, America's strength lies in her diversity--diversity of population and diversity of ideas. It takes all of us to make democracy work, but I don't see how this can be accomplished if our intention is to always be on the offensive. Stirring up hate isn't productive. In my opinion, this works directly against the American spirit that has always put us on top.
In spite of some tense, unsettling moments, I feel honored and privileged to talk to so many people across our great country. It is wonderful when people take time to be engaged in the electoral process--true democracy at work. People genuinely care about our future and that, I believe, bodes very well for our nation. People will always disagree, but when we do, let us do it without being disagreeable. History has shown that in working together we can find solutions to the problems that face us, no matter how difficult. If we take the time to look for similarities rather than differences, we may find that people are not really that different after all. We share many of the same dreams, values and hopes. Let us take time to play on our strengths rather than our weaknesses.