Monday, October 17, 2016

My lesson in humility

It's election season. For some reason elections bring out nastiness in people. Everyone thinks they are right, that they are the experts, and that anyone that disagrees with them is wrong.

News flash: we are all wrong. There is no right answer. The best we can do is vote who we think is best for the country. We all have different opinions and shouldn't shame someone because they don't agree with it. We shouldn't stereotype groups of people. Ignorant republicans. Foolish liberals. Crazy third party voters. I am not saying I don't do this - I am guilty of it too. I have been holding back a lot this election cycle though. However, things just seem to be getting worse. I get tired of hearing "it's your fault if so and so wins." No it's not. That completely falls on the candidate. If you don't win someone's vote, then that is on you. "Well they have no chance of winning, so why would you be stupid and vote for them?" Since when did we have to vote for the person who will win? Wasn't our country built on our right to choose? Shouldn't we be able to choose who we feel would be best for president without being shamed? Let the politicians do the insulting and let us respect other people for their opinions.

We all need a lesson in compassion and humility. I personally need to remember to be a nicer human being.

Election cycles always remind me of my time in the hospital for bipolar disorder. In 2008 I was in the hospital for the election. I lost a lot of choice that week, but we got to vote in the hospital. It was the one choice I made for myself during that time. We all gathered in the common room to watch the results and *GASP* had civil discussions about points we agreed and disagreed on. It was nice to be around people that were willing and able to talk about issues without insulting each other. Maybe it was because we were such a diverse group of people thrown into this situation in the lowest point in our lives. We had been stripped bare of basic choices like when we slept (curfew hours and woken up randomly for blood tests), when we took meds. We were carefully watched when we had access to razors for showering, needles for crafts, paintbrushes, things with something we think of as everyday choices - it was watched. Even our food was typically handheld or eaten with a spoon. We discussed things like why we wanted to die, why we had harmed ourselves, and other things that making talking about mental illness uncomfortable. I may be very open about my disease, but some things I do keep to myself. It is an ugly enough disease. It's hard to fight people when you have no fight left. You learn not to judge the person who is wrapped up in bandages from cutting because you are there for the same reasons or the girl that is rail thin and withdrawing from heroin and turned to stripping to fund her drug habit. She was my room mate. You feel for the person who is on the phone in tears because none of her family members want to "deal with her problems" anymore. Regardless, that little hallway became our safe-haven from the ugliness of the outside world. You have spent time with the "outcasts" of our society and you realize you too, are an outcast. And you come to terms with it. It's what makes you unique and you are never the same after you come out of this experience.
I didn't keep in touch with anyone after my stay, but I remember their faces. I remember their stories. I wish I had.

While in the psych ward I developed a compassion and understanding of my fellow human beings that I didn't have before. I was humbled. When I went in, I tended to be judgemental and looked down on those that didn't agree with me. This isn't to say I still don't have those moments, but I am reminding myself this election season to remember that in a country of 300 million people we won't all agree. Don't call people stupid because they don't agree with you. It hurtful. Don't be hateful. Does it honestly help anything? Does it make you feel better to put someone down like that? I know things get heated, but take a step back and realize that these are your family and friends. You know you don't agree with them on everything, but you still love them. So why does their different vote bring out insults and hate?

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