It is actually difficult these days to find ways to not be angry or dismayed on both sides of the aisle when you see how divided the country is.
There is no blame in that statement for there are ways we can all do better to reach across the aisle and then there are people we have to let go of because longevity does not make a friendship if there is no shared moral compass, no shared vision of any kind, no shared goals.
What I will not give up on though is my belief that we are a country as the US that is not made of "or" but we are made of "and".
We are the wealthiest nation on the planet by many standards. We are the nation who was created by people who left someplace to seek a better future or were dragged here via vile means and still believed that there is a place here for them. A nation whose contributions and innovative spirit is oddly optimistic and has driven our success. A nation that can be breached by the very thing it invented, technology, and saved by the thing that makes all feel the greatest parts of our humanity. A nation that needs to rebuild or damns and walls and roads - without needing to damn ourselves with walls on the road to hate. We are nation that has the right to secure our borders and ask for immigrants to bring with them their culture while asking them to accept the one we have built. We are nation that can be mighty and fair. We can ask for great trade deals and offer them in return without forgetting that our success and the success of nations who work with us are not two separate things. We are nation that should help our hungry and lead to end world hunger.
We have money to help veterans AND refugees. We can screen people who apply to come to our nation for a visit, for residence, for a new life AND still welcome them to add to the fabric of this nation.
We have money to have a good military AND still have a lot of money to help our civilian population - isn't that what we protect and fight for? We can fund social programs, healthcare benefits, arts AND expect that funding to be handled effectively and not squandered through bureaucracy.
We have the ability to allow people to worship whatever deity they choose AND we do not have to pick one as better. We do not have to pick a religion at all AND we can still work toward humanitarian goals of charity, kindness, caring, lawfulness.
We can love and love and love and make that love legal AND we can choose who that is for ourselves because the OR to love is hate.
We can teach all of our children in public schools AND demand those schools are funded and brought up to the standards all of our children deserve not just those in a certain zip code. We can have private schools AND still improve our public ones.
We can establish laws and jails AND make sure that is not to create a business for those who run the prisons instead of a place to truly protect us from those who mean to do all harm.
We can have religious instruction in religious institutions AND we can laws made in courts and government offices. Our laws mean you can practice your religion without fear AND we can practice our personal beliefs without imposing them on one another.
We can have rules and laws that keep industries in line to protect our environment AND those companies can still make A LOT of profit. OR they can choose to make it seem not so AND we can choose to not believe their greed.
We can have people who hunt or want to own guns AND have common sense regulations that at least match those we ask of people to get a driving license.
We can rely on science and it's results AND we can say it is hard for us to understand scientists without saying we don't believe because of that.
We can use birth control AND we can opt not to. We can have an abortion AND we can choose not to. We can adopt children AND we can choose place children up for adoption.
We can have equal rights for all AND embrace the differences in people.
We have enough money for conflicts AND we should have enough for rebuilding in a Marshall plan way because without an after plan we will just have more conflicts.
We can streamline government and regulations that are redundant AND still have government and regulations.
We can dislike a person AND not be prejudiced against the ethnicity, race, religion, sex, orientation they identify with.
We can have voted for someone AND acknowledge what they do poorly just as easily as the things they do well without having to become oddly cultish about it the people we vote for.
We can pee next to one another in different stalls in the same bathroom AND still enforce laws if anyone breaks them and tries to harm someone in those places.
We can protest AND be patriotic.
We can believe in each other and not hold our politicians accountable AND we do not have to like the same politicians to do so.
We are a nation of ANDs - not ORs. We want a better future for ourselves AND our children, we want fair play for ourselves AND others, we are fallible and flawed AND we balance each other and make those flaws into opportunities.
If you are not on board with wanting all of these things AND more for each of us who are Americans by choice or by birth then really you have to decide if you are just not willing to imagine such greatness OR that you have embraced your prejudices instead of your possibilities.
We really a small blue dot of a planet AND across it we all hope for these things regardless of where we live or what language we say it in. The people who want to do us harm, who choose to make us feel divided, who foster hate can only win if we allow them to OR we could just stop listening to them AND start listening to each other.