Back in November 2008 I was studying abroad in Rome. It was my first time voting in a presidential election and I took my responsibilities very seriously. I watched every debate and took detailed notes. I wrote down the question and each candidates response to the actual question. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that not only was taking notes during a debate a little dorky but that I was going to vote for McCain. When my ballot showed up in the mail I eagerly filled it out and mailed it back.

I still remember my reaction when I found out that Obama had won the election. I remember being disappointed that my guy had lost. I remember thinking that even though my guy had lost this was still a really cool historical moment; we had just elected our first black president and that was awesome. I remember still being optimistic about the future. I remember still holding a deep respect for the office of the President regardless of who was in it.

Italy was every bit as excited as America was about the results. So was most of the rest of the world.

What I don't remember feeling was a deep rift in our nation. What I don't remember feeling was heartbreak.

But that's what I feel with this election.

We're a nation divided and this election has divided us further.

And if I'm being honest with myself, I  have to admit that no matter which candidate won, the divisions would have grown deeper. I do believe that the divisions that have been caused by the actual results are far worse, far deeper, and far more dangerous than the alternative. But there still would have been divisions.

A dear friend shared this video on Facebook today:

The part where Colbert discusses room in our lives for other things struck a cord with me. We don't leave room in our lives anymore. We don't leave room for people who are different than us. We don't leave room for activities that broaden our horizons. We don't leave room for unity. We don't leave room for curiosity about what motivates someone to think differently than us. We don't leave room to change our minds or see things from a new angle.

We don't leave room for anything that does not fit into our preconceived notions.

Both sides of this election are equally guilty. I am equally guilty.  I didn't listen to Trump supporters. I didn't want to listen to them. I got caught up in the politics and allowed divides to grow in my relationships. I allowed the election to consume me and convince me that my fate could be decided by someone other than me.

So instead of talking about why I'm so hurt and disappointed by the election results, I want to leave a little more room.

And I want to do that by apologizing to those who I derided because I didn't like their beliefs. I'm sorry. I should have listened to all of you. I should have taken the time to get to know why you feel the way you feel. I shouldn't have been so fast to judge.

I will not, and cannot, support or condone discrimination in any form. It's despicable and only brings harm.

Hating people who don't think, walk, talk, act, or look like you will never bring unity, prosperity, or peace.

And that includes hating people who hate other people. The vast majority of human beings do not respond well to being approached with hatred and anger. It drives them further away and deeper into their own hatred.  Hatred will only breed more hatred.

Growing up, when we would do something stupid Mom told us that she may not like the stupid thing we were doing/saying/thinking but that she would always love us.

I can't change anyone's mind. Quite frankly, I don't want to. What I do want is to ensure that I am never this consumed with anger towards other people again. I will instead adopt the approach Mom took to our decisions growing up. I will hate discrimination and fight it. But I will not hate the people who discriminate themselves. I will not allow my decisions to be guided by hatred.

That's all I can do. It might not seem like much. It might not make a single bit of difference in this nation.

But that's okay.

Because the truth is, in order to eliminate hatred I have to start by eliminating my own hatred.

I want to conclude by saying this: no matter who you voted for or why you voted for them, I still love you.

You have worth.

You are meaningful.


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