Monday, November 3, 2008

My thoughts on Proposition 8

I’m voting tomorrow. I’m glad it’s over. However I vote, however you vote, I’m glad it’s over.

I hear “things are heating up”. Definitely an understatement. I have worked on the issues I thought were important. I have listened to the candidates, watched the TV spots. I have studied it out, made my personal political decisions, and I always thought I was entitled to my opinions. After all, I have always believed you are entitled to yours.

It doesn’t bother me if you disagree. I grew up in a family that was politically divided, and there were very lively and even heated discussions among family and friends. But through the years, I have never witnessed the dishonorable, disrespectful, and hateful dialogue and behavior that I have during this election.

Opinions and effort made on behalf of every candidate, every issue or proposal that is out on the table seems to be open season. There are no rules. No boundaries. No respect. No honor. No lively discussions; just nasty, disrespectful and ridiculous behavior.

I had a sign in my yard. It was stolen. It’s my yard, my sign, my opinion. I don’t steal your opposing sign during the night. That’s breaking the law. It’s your sign, your yard, your opinion. There were signs on the busy corner in my neighborhood. They were torn down. My daughter walked down the street to put them back up, and a driver called out, “I HATE YOU, “B----”!” Why in the world would someone think that is okay? These are people who live by me, work by me, drive by my house and wait in the grocery line with me. Call me crazy, but it hurts and disappoints.

I worked the phone banks for a proposition that I felt strongly about. While involved in taking a generic poll, the caller said to me, as if he were wishing me a pleasant day, “You are evil, and I hope you die soon.” Why in the world would a human being think that it is okay to say that to another human being? Obviously, we disagree on the issue, but I would never in a million years think to wish that on anyone, no matter how vehemently I felt. What is wrong with “I disagree strongly, and this is how I am voting.” Or how about, “I don’t wish to divulge that information.” Or even “It is my business how I vote.” Or even better, “What are the reasons you are for or against this?”

I’ve heard of way worse experiences from other people. It isn’t exclusively my observation. Just go on You Tube and look at the comments on the issues. I can’t help but feel disappointed and disillusioned in humanity. It’s depressing.

From where I sit, I see a world that is vastly different from not so many years ago, where differences of opinion were freely expressed, without fear of having beer bottles thrown at you from passing cars, obscenities screamed at you, called evil, having your car keyed because you display a sticker displaying the names of the candidates you endorse, and even being swerved at by a car.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions; it is part of what makes America amazing. But I will never, ever understand why people cannot respectfully hold opposing signs, express opposing views, and endorse opposing candidates without fear, hatred, and violence. I know it can happen. I saw both YES on 8 and NO on 8 supporters rally together at some intersections. But the many who are ridiculous are the ones who lose credibility for their entire group.
This whole situation is just plain wrong. Yes, there are things that are still wrong. And treating other people the way I have seen people treated over the last few weeks, and calling it “passion for the cause” is just wrong. I can’t imagine how it will be next time. I’ll admit that some of the things that were said I won’t forget soon. I’ll admit that I allowed their arrows hit the mark and I’ll be feeling the jabs that some of my fellow citizens inflicted for a long time to come, which, I also admit, is giving some kind of validity to that kind of behavior. Shrugging it off is what I’ve tried to do, but it’s just the darn human in me that feels the sting.

Not for a minute do I think you care what I think, especially after witnessing the hate and disrespect I have witnessed and felt. But I'll say it anyway, because I can, and I appreciate that. So, for and in behalf of all of the respectful, motivated, and involved citizens that have tried to make a difference and experienced the same thing…no matter what age you are, what religion you are, or what political issues you support or don’t, there is something to be said for being passionate with restraint and respect, for good old self-control in the face of heated disagreement and, oh, yeah, human decency. I’m just glad it’s almost over. And I hope that when the street corners are empty, the phones silent, the voting booths closed, and the wildly flaming issues have burned themselves out, that those who behaved in incredibly shameful and disgraceful ways will feel just that, ashamed. One can only hope.

- Sherri Bewsey