As we embark upon 2017, many of us will resolve to lose weight, exercise more or give up smoking.
May I suggest another resolution to bring healing to our divided land? Cease and desist from worshipping at the altar of social media in the New Year.
Of course, social media such as Facebook or Twitter are protected speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution. Social media also are ideal for sharing family photos, milestones, inspiring quotes and recipes. Yet recently in the aftermath of the hotly contested presidential election, social media have been used as the instrument of choice to spread hatred.
Too often social media have been rife with half-true anecdotes as a means to diminish and unjustly degrade individuals who may not share the political affiliation and views of the sender. For example, there has been a tendency by some to paint with a broad brush all those who voted for Donald Trump as being bigots or racists. This caricature would be equivalent to calling all Hillary Clinton voters corrupt because of the allegations against her. Both are unfair depictions and stereotypes.
Based upon conversations I had with family and friends, I can attest to the fact that most voters were motivated by myriad factors when casting their ballots. With few exceptions, hate was not one of them. Other than a few zealots and media types on both ends of the political spectrum, most voters chose the candidate who, while not ideal, seemingly represented a vision of providing a better future for their children.
Yes, good and decent people supported and voted for Clinton. Likewise good and decent people supported and voted for Trump. Some voted for neither. While I was not a fan of either candidate, I did my civic duty, voted and now accept the outcome. I and all of us should fully embrace the peaceful transition of power as provided for by our Constitution and for which so many of our soldiers have died.
It is time to move on. The time for incessant complaining and whining on social media is over. Rather than perpetuating hate via social media, may I suggest we go back and use our God-given energies and talents to repair our own homes and communities, which is really what we have the most control over?
Rather than celebrating or dreading the occupant of the White House for the next four years, we should use our own resources and talents to help bring about social justice at home, a major tenet of my own faith. Rather than placing all our hopes and dreams in one candidate, we would be wise to place those same hopes and dreams within each of us.
Healing in our country is possible only if we each choose empathy, kindness and respect as our watchwords to live by. Respect is an absolutely essential ingredient to govern our everyday interactions, especially with those who may have different life experiences from our own, or with whom we philosophically disagree.
The challenges may be great but the opportunities to bring about a better world are just as unlimited. For example, if you are unaffiliated, the time is ripe to join a church or synagogue. If you are not active in a charitable organization or civic club, what better time than now to become active to help heal our communities? If you, like so many others, were disillusioned by the last campaign, why not be a change agent by joining and transforming the local Democratic or Republican parties or perhaps the local Committee for Good Government?
For the sake of our security and our children’s future well-being, we all should sincerely hope for the success of our incoming administration in Washington. That does not mean we cannot speak out when the actions of our leaders warrant it after careful and wise reflection.
However, it does mean that more important than chastising a leader on his choice of words, each of us act and behave – not just talk – in a manner worthy of our children’s future.
(The writer is an Augusta attorney.)