It may be an understatement to say that this year has been pretty crazy.  Not only have we been dealing with history-making events, we’ve also been bombarded with millions of opinions attacking from all sides.  With the recent election and some of the comments that have been made in regard to the likely outcome, our country should take a step back and analyze what is actually needed.  In my opinion, it is not only our government that needs to change.  We as citizens need to change our attitudes and behavior as well.

The past year has made it abundantly clear that our nation is troublingly divided.  Individuals of different political parties are at each other’s throats.  There is no humility, little respect.  There’s such an attitude of “all or nothing”.  Either one side is completely right, or it is completely wrong.  There is no in between.  The behavior of our leaders does not help matters.  Rather than stating their own opinions, government officials are consistently putting down the opposition.  It’s classic bully ideology, “if I make them look bad, I will look better.”  It’s inappropriate and frankly immature.

Our nation also has a problem with overgeneralization.  For example, there have been many assertions made recently such as “conservatives are racist” or “liberals are violent”.  People are simply so much more complex than that.  Each individual is different, comes from a separate background, and have their own, individualized opinions.  Overgeneralizing causes prejudice and disrespect.  These attitudes are not what our country was built upon.  If our nation falls it will not be because our laws weren’t what they should have been.  It will be because we are no longer unified. 

It’s hard to respect and be kind to someone we don’t agree with, particularly if they are unkind to us.  But if we want to maintain any chance of keeping this country together, each individual citizen needs to do their part as best they can.  Recognize the value in others.  Learn that no one has all of the answers.  Each of us has something to offer that will strengthen our nation. 

As these elections come to a close, we invite each of you to look forward to the future.  Rather than continuing in the division, encourage those around you, regardless of their political leanings, to stand with you in hope for the future of our nation.  Make your opinions known and encourage our elected leaders to represent you as they have sworn to do.  But be sure to be respectful and open-minded.  Recognize that those on the other side may have ideas to offer that you might not have considered.  As each of us does our best to be unified with our fellow citizens, our nation will be stronger than ever.  Not because we have the firmest government, but because we as a people consider ourselves to be “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”