Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2016 Election Essay

A little over a year ago, I traveled to our nation's capital to honor my late father's service in Vietnam. While I was there, I made an astute observation of the people there. You could say there was two groups of people of which one vast group was both culturally and intellectually diverse. They were full of optimism and forward momentum. The other smaller group of people I witnessed were largely tourists who consisted of frightened white people largely from the South. They looked on to the White house with deep fear (as if someone shot the family dog) and stinging resentment for things they could not control nor embrace. It's safe to say a year later that I see much of this in this 2016 Presidential Election. I can see this alone from my friends list on Facebook alone these two groups at play with one bearing that sense of optimism in the face of perceived fear while another bears white resentment for a country they no longer control or can return it to. A world where people like me a Latino where my Muslim & Central American neighbors are not welcome or encouraged to take part in. A world where my Japanese, Chinese, & Vietnamese friends don't have a voice. A world where what few LGBT folk I have known must live in the shadows. A world where intellectualism is distrusted as elitism. It's sad that such unwarranted fears exists for these people. Worse, it is repugnant that demagogues (people who preach what they know not to be true) stroke the flames of fear and hate in a time where we could for better or worse become a stronger united nation. My family came from Mexico and my late father fought in Vietnam for a country he could barely speak its language or was a citizen of. How lucky was I to be born here in the United States! How unfortunate, those who have lost their connection to their immigrant roots can not see this. I say this because I believe such people have lost perspective. A perspective so critical to think clearly and see past the electoral bullshit and campaign rhetoric where lies are passed as truth, and truth distorted by those seeking to undermine our electoral process.
For me, it was like that moment two days after 9/11 2001 that I and a friend I had at the time carried an American Flag down the Sunset Strip and we stopped traffic. 500 people marched with us and a couple thousand cheered us on. People of all races, religions, creeds, and orientations joined with us as Americans. How powerful that moment of unity felt. You can never have that in an All White Controlled Society. How fair would it be to go backwards to the 1950's where my black neighbors could not attend the same schools and instead be sicked on by police dogs? What strokes this fear and hatred in the modern age? You can not blame it on President Obama as some in this country do. This rage was always there for some and now it's reared its ugly head once again. Ask any soldier who has fought in combat whether a skin color made a difference in the field in the face of a determined enemy. They know but some strangely within the ranks have strangely forgotten when they returned home and thus joined the angry ranks of the Far Right. And while many of you may not agree with my views, it is natural to agree to disagree. It can be done so without becoming uncivil or a "my way or the highway" diatribe that settles nothing. This country has so much to offer when you look past the cynicism and indifference of those who sit on the sidelines and argue as arm chair pundits hiding from the safety of their computer screens. We won't cure racism and economic inequality over night nor will we solve age old problems of balancing freedom and democracy on the scales of a Capitalist system that encourages both greed and innovation. But the challenge for every citizen is out there. Partake in our electoral process and fight for what you believe in. If that belief is to fight me, well here I am. Unarmed and easy to find but do so at your own peril. The war we wage is not against ideas but fear and indifference. While not everything in Washington directly impacts your personal life, change can be made right at home. I applaud those people who take up such challenges be it in small ways or giving largely of themselves to the community around them. We are stronger together than we are at odds apart but we will have a long way to go before we can become that "More Perfect Union." Regardless of what happens on November 8th, life will go on. How you choose to live it as a Citizen is up to you.

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