I have a confession.
I was raised in a Republican household. As an adult, I do not vote Republican.
Now, I don't write this to insult your politics, faith, or whatever else you hold dear. I write this because I wish I had known these things far sooner than I did.
I had (and still have) a very privileged lifestyle growing up. My dad is brilliant and his brain afforded him a job that allowed my mom the opportunity to stay home and care for us kiddos. We've always had a roof over our heads. We've always had food on the table. We've never "wanted" in the way many families want. Did we fall on "hard times?" Definitely. Has my dad earned every cent of his salary? You damn well believe it. But here's where my dad and I differ as adults: the priority of money. (I should disclaimer- my dad is an amazing listener and respects my opinions despite our differences, and I think that needs to be said.)
Now, I'm not in the position of having to raise and afford to care for four kids. Good god, I can barely afford one. And I can say all day long I'm a fiscally conservative and socially liberal, so it's hard to decide how to vote. But it's not. I simply don't put my individual finances above the overall good of humanity. I realize this is easier said than done. I realize that people want to believe they've worked for everything they've got, and that they did it all on their own. I recognize people want to believe that people who don't succeed are simply lazy. I understand that people don't want to credit the status in which they were born into, based on the system. Yes, there are exceptions. But, that doesn't prevent me from feeling sad and frightened that the prevalent mindset is based on a privilege people want to continue to be ignorant about.
When I was a Republican, in high school, I was so so so sure of myself. No to abortion. PERIOD. Yes to capital punishment! I could go on. Yes to civil unions, but they don't need "our word", marriage. Taxes? Fuck people who want to tax us for being hard-working. Sex before marriage...well, my God would deal with you! Anyway, I remember a classmate saying to me once: "You're a Republican? I'm sorry, I thought you cared about people." And that stung. It also didn't do nearly what I assume was its intended purpose. It may have been true, but it pushed me away. It actually made me more steadfast in my viewpoints, determined to prove that I aligned with those who have morals, and didn't need to resort to cheap shots. And for that, I hold resentment toward that person. I voted one specific way to prove that person wrong.
After graduating college I was privileged, once again, to take on a job that afforded me lots of travel. I traveled nationwide. I interviewed hundreds of people. Hundreds and hundreds. I wasn't coddled in my little white, Republican suburb of people surrounded by churches and middle class+ incomes. I met people who were raised by single parents, black people, asian people, hispanic people, people who had kids at 16, people who were raped, people whose parents were killed, people who grew up in foster care, the ghetto, people whose parents didn't help them with college money, didn't buy them a used car at 16, didn't offer them a place to live past the age of 18, people who had to care for their younger siblings while their parents worked 3 jobs, people who were called 'oreos,' people who were made fun of for being "yellow," ... I could go on.
And it dawned on me.... not everything is about me. I'm not the only person in this world. My needs do not come first above the greater good.
Regardless of whatever I did or didn't believe, I realized that those beliefs do not get to have say in how everyone else lives their lives and what civil liberties they are afforded. Your body, your body. PERIOD. Love who you want to love. It's not a sin to fall in love. Be kind to people. You can be the hardest working person I know and still be working three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet, and dammit, you deserve to have a livable fucking wage if you work full time. You have the right to believe in god and NOT believe in god. NEITHER OF THESE SHOULD AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS. PERIOD. All people are equal. That 4-year-old boy that washed up on the shore after his family attempted to flee the massacres in Syria? He bled the same blood your child would bleed. He suffered just as much as your child would suffer if they drowned in the ocean. NO RACE IS SUPREME.
I'm still finding all the time that there are so many things I'm ignorant about. As a white, privileged girl I didn't even know cultural appropriation was a thing until about a year ago. I didn't understand that the concept "reverse racism" is foolish, until about two years ago after an ugly Facebook debate. I spouted "all lives matter" like I was a goddam prodigy enlightening the masses. Those sentences just made me cringe so hard, I can't even.
It's not a crime to be ignorant. It should be a crime to be willfully ignorant. Do the research. Read the articles. Educate yourself on the meaning of privilege and social justice issues. Every day we have the opportunity to make a difference for not just ourselves, but everyone. Stop talking the talk, but not walking the walk. You don't care about other countries because we should help our own first? You want to make America "great again?" I hope to see you at the next food drive or clothing drive. I hope to run into while dropping off bags of donations at the Salvation Army. I hope to see you dropping off meals at the shelter. I hope you're on the front lines supporting love for EVERYONE, and supporting funds for women's health (and men's). Words only mean something if you put them into motion. Stop making excuses. Do better. Be better. Vote for better. Vote for people.