So the past year has been hard in America. And it all came to a climactic ending last night with the election results. For months I have been concerned about the state of people and minds and hearts when the results were announced…..regardless of winners and regardless of which race. This election had so much passion and apathy, encouragement and animosity, rhetoric and action that I felt whiplash as we swung from one rally to the next debate from one advertisement to the next soundbite. It was tough. I’m tired. Regardless of winners and regardless of which race.
I live in NC so the gubernatorial and congressional races felt just as intense. I was worried….still am, to tell the truth. But I have found comfort in what I’ve seen today.
I am a high school teacher and I have witnessed kindness in action numerous times before lunch time. I am encouraged.
This morning I have seen students dressed in their ROTC uniforms carrying themselves with the pride and patriotism of soldiers past and present. I am encouraged to watch students stand and proudly place their hands over their hearts to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day. Contrary to memes and wild posts on social media, we still say the pledge at school daily. Patriotism is not dead, my friends. It may be redesigned for a modern day generation, but it is not dead.
I smile as I see multiracial friendships in the cafeteria, courtyard, and break. True friendships. The students banter back and forth, give high fives, and provide pats on the back with little to no regard for skin color or birthplace. Racial divisions may be exploding in cities and on social media, but not on my campus.
I beam with pride as I see students that have Trump bumper stickers, hats, and other items speak kindly and share smiles with those who do not. Those who would not. Partisan politics may be rampant in polls and the news, but not among our young people.
I dance on the inside as a young man holds the door for me. I see young ladies being spoken to with respect. I see young men and women who choose to be countercultural in their fashion and self expression. Misogyny and bullying may be viewed as ubiquitous in our society, but it is not found this morning at my school.
I may be concerned about the state of our nation, but I am encouraged today as I watch our future finding ways to navigate differences and learn to appreciate each other and be friends. I am encouraged by the kindness I see displayed by my students. I see kindness in action and I am inspired to join it. I hope you will be also.