"This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can." Barack Obama
As I sat last night and watched the election results pour in, I couldn't help but feel overcome with emotion. As I watched our new President-Elect's speech last night, I cried tears of joy. I felt truly proud to be an American.
As I watch coverage now today, I am still very much feeling that way. Our country is finally showing some signs that we are becoming truly what we are supposed to be - UNITED, that no matter what the color of our skin is, or what name we have, we are all Americans.
I wasn't so sure months ago. This election was one of the nastiest we've ever seen, and I felt at times that our nation was becoming more divided. People on both sides of the campaign were saying and doing some very shameful, disrespectful things. At times I was ashamed to be an American, especially when I witnessed some people at campaign events shouting cruel, hateful things, many whom had their children in tow.
What should we have been teaching our children with this election? I saw it as the opportunity to teach my own children that all of us were created equal, that no one is better than someone else because of where they were born, the house they live in, their gender, or the color of their skin. That no matter what we look like on the outside, we should all have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Kiki learned about elections and voting in school. Her class went through the whole process and even nominated two people in the class, one boy and one girl, to run for class president. The purpose of the election was not really to pick a president, but to show the children how the process works. Kiki was so excited by this she came home every day talking about what they had learned. She was even one of the two nominated and was excited at the opportunity to "run" for president. The best part of the whole thing for me, was when she lost. I was disappointed for her that she didn't win, and she seemed a little disappointed too, but I was so proud at how she handled it. She told me that when they announced the winner, she went over and gave him a "high five" and told him "congrats." Then later while waiting to get on her bus, she wrote him a note to tell him "good job." I was so proud when she told me this story my heart swelled with joy. Knowing that she handled that so gracefully and respectfully meant more than anything to me.
My dream is that more people in society would behave like my own child. That we could learn to be so gracious and respectful of one another. That all politicians could handle themselves so well instead of spewing hate and lies about one another, and calling each other names. That all people could see everyone for who they truly are instead of judging on appearances. I am teaching my children to be tolerant, accepting and respectful of others. In our house no kind of disrespect is allowed. No teasing. Sure we joke around with each other, but we do not allow any put downs. I've told them that putting someone else down is just as bad as hitting them.
These important lifeskills are also being taught to them in school. Hateful words are not tolerated and are simply not acceptable. Each week, children are rewarded for kind words and actions by being given a raffle ticket. The prize if they win the raffle of the week? A poster with their picture on it displayed on the school office window. Awards are given for such lifeskills as honesty, respect, kindness, flexibilty, etc. I love visiting school and seeing these and watching the children walk by them and beam with pride. I love going to the "celebration" assemblies and watching the children congratulate each other for their accomplishments.
We can learn a lesson as nation from our children. We need to be more accepting of one another. More tolerant. More respectful. One of my least favorite parts of this election was the labels people gave each other. Supporters of both parties were very guilty of it and it made me very sad. I just don't see any reason for it and wonder what message we are sending our children when we behave this way. I also was sad knowing that some people were even teaching their children to be scared if one candidate won over the other. Is fear something we really need to be teaching our children? Why not instead teach them to be strong, to stand up and fight for what they believe in? To stand behind one another, even when the chips are down, and lift each other up in support. That just because you "lost" doesn't mean you can't congratulate and support the other candidate. Kiki taught me this with her actions at school. That's a lesson more valuable to me than anything. I am hoping she can carry that through her life and continue to be so graceful, tolerant, and selfless.
Martin Luther King said it best:
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
We've got a long way to go, but I am hopeful that we can overcome our past and have a great future. We elected an African American President for the first time EVER. I know we are not that far off from electing our first WOMAN for President. We as a nation should be so proud that we have achieved so much in our history, and no longer should we be divided, but UNITED. After all we are the UNITED States of America.