A couple of days ago, my peaceful morning ritual of sipping my steaming coffee while reading the news was interrupted by screaming from outside my house. At first, I tried to ignore the shrieks, recognizing that they were coming from kids across the road waiting for the bus.
Kids will be kids, they’re loud. Okay. As the screams continued I heard a distinct tone of panic in them. Something was wrong. I hurried out of my house, barefoot but coffee in hand, to see what was happening.
One child, middle-school aged, was hollering for another child, high-school-aged, to “give me back my bookbag” because “I neeeeed it”. I watched for a moment, perhaps I didn’t need to intercede. As I saw the older child stalk toward the younger, I took action. I crossed the road quickly and spoke loudly, “Are you okay?” “ Do you need help?”
The incident resolved with the older child returning the bookbag, the younger child insisting she was okay, and me watching from my front step until the bus arrived. The younger girl sat in a window seat on the side of the bus facing my house, she smiled and waved as they pulled away. I smiled and waved back, giving a little nod and a look that I hope said, “I’ll help if you ever need it.” I went back inside and poured another cup of coffee.
I actually started writing that day and planned to use the incident to segway into a discussion of bullying by political parties. The piece didn’t flow and I put it on a back burner.
Then Ruth Bader Ginsberg died.
Suddenly everywhere I turn I am hit with a barrage of what is nothing short of bullying.
A woman who served as a Supreme Court Justice for 27 years passes away and suddenly both sides of the political spectrum are using her death and her life to bully people into believing they will do irreparable harm to America if they don’t support their parties actions right now.
From the left, we hear that every right that women have is now in danger with the death of Justice Ginsberg.
We are told that Republicans are trying to steal the Supreme Court seat.
We are told we should be radicalized by her death.
From the right, we hear that the President has a right, no, a duty, to fill the position left by the former Justice.
We hear that this is the rallying cry that will finally unite Republicans again. We are told if we don’t #filltheseat we will be giving power to the people who threatened #burnitalldown.
Every media outlet is covered in what are essentially opinion pieces meant to scare us to one side or the other.
This isn’t the first issue and it won’t be the last that our elected officials and even our fellow citizens use to bully us. But, it can be the last time we stand for it.
We have the right to analyze the issues and make our political affiliation decisions based solely on our beliefs and morals. We have the right to agree with some things “our” party does and not agree with others. We have the right to not align with either party.
Our system works because we have and encourage differences. If we allow these bullies to make us believe that we should feel the same as our party leaders on every issue, we have lost everything we have ever worked for.
We are NOT beholden to the Republicans or the Democrats and it’s time we remind them of that fact. So I say to both parties: Stop Bullying Me and I say to my fellow American’s: Are you okay? Do you need help? I will help you if you ever need it.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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