Dear President Obama,
You recently made the statement, 'America is not as divided as some have suggested.' Mr. President, I respectfully disagree.
From where I sit in southern Kentucky I can not remember a time when America has been more divided. If it were just one issue that caused a difference of opinion, I could understand why you would make that comment, but there are so many ways in which we are divided that I'm not even sure where to begin.
1950 through 1980
I was born in 1956 and by the time I understood what Vietnam, flower power, and the Civil Rights Movement were -- they were almost over. I was a senior in high school during Watergate and worried more about who I was going to take to prom than what was going to happen to Richard Nixon. I grew up in a home with two parents who weren't rich but we were far from poor. They took my brother and me to church every Sunday and once a year we went to the beach on vacation. I was blessed with great parents and surrounded by love. Why does that make a difference?
Because I know that I think the way I do in part because of where I come from and the people who influenced me during my early years. Both my grandfathers were strong Democrats and there wasn't a Republican in the family until my mother registered Republican to spite my dad (at least that's why I think she did it). Even though they belonged to different political parties my parents voted for the person, not the party. They never voted a straight ticket and tried to choose the candidate they believed would do the best job. I've always tried to do the same.
Now when I look around our country I can't help but wonder what my parents and grandparents would say if they could come back from the dead. Every morning when I get up I get my coffee and turn on the news and every morning I try and brace myself for whatever disaster has happened since I turned off the television the night before. It feels like we go from one horrific incident to the next without even taking time to properly mourn the dead from one mass shooting before the next one happens.
How can you say we aren't as divided as we seem? Are you watching the same television stations I am? We can't even decide who is supposed to use which bathroom. How are we ever going to compromise on issues like immigration, gun control, or abortion?
To be honest with you sometimes I look around America and wonder if I've gone to bed and woken up in a different country. It's like putting on a familiar pair of jeans that you have worn every day for years and suddenly that don't fit right anymore. I want my old jeans to fit again! I don't like feeling like my country has had plastic surgery to the point where I no longer recognize it. Do we have to change so much that we no longer recognize who we are?
These days it seems like we are tolerant of everything except each other. I have friends who are passionate conservatives and many liberal friends who are just as passionate. Many of them post degrading and hateful things on social media about the opposite party knowing full well their friends who disagree with them will read it. It may sound naive but why can't we like each other and all get along no matter what our political preferences are? Why do political ads have to be so negative and nasty that I can't stand to watch them and turn them off rather than listen to what they have to say?
Who Is A Hero?
Like many of the rest of America I watched as the story of Bruce Jenner unfolded. I saw the television interviews and I listened as ESPN touted Caitlyn Jenner as a hero. They even presented her with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
I understand that what she did took courage, I get that, I really do, but I don't understand why she won an award.
I would have applauded if Lauren Hill, a young girl who played college basketball despite suffering from a brain tumor would have won. Or if they had chosen Noah Galloway, an Iraq War double amputee who competes in extreme sports and was also a finalist on Dancing with the Stars, I would have agreed. But Caitlyn Jenner?
In America we can't even agree on who is a hero.
A Nation Divided
Mr. President, instead of trying to convince the world that all is well in good in America (which I don't think anyone believes) I think we need to own up to our differences and admit we have back-breaking work to do. We need to get down on our knees and pray for one another, for our country and for the upcoming election because whoever the next President is will be inheriting a nation divided.
We are broken in more pieces than Humpty Dumpty and someone is going to have a very tough job putting us back together again.
Teresa Bell Kindred