At Aerial Dance we actively try NOT to talk about politics. No joke, it is in our employee handbook to steer conversations AWAY from political, religious and controversial topics because our mission is to be an inclusive safe space for ALL women. That is more and more important as the country becomes more and more polarized. So to keep this blog from violating our policies, I won’t be identifying which party was which but will be talking about behavior and what we can choose instead of hate.

My parents live in a standard middle class Northeast Wisconsin neighborhood. They know their neighbors and everyone helps each other out when there is a snow storm or wheels in your garbage cans if you’re away. In the past few months many neighbors have put up political signs supporting a presidential candidate. I have to admit I was surprised to see how clear most of the neighborhood was on one side of political divide. My parents don’t support that candidate. And in an action totally uncharacteristic of my father, who is a chameleon and avoids conflict, he put up a sign in their yard supporting the other candidate. This America, we should be able to support whomever and have positive healthy discussion….right?

Directly after putting it up, the new neighbor next door walked over and said “you’re on the wrong side.” Woah. Like dude, the stakes aren’t even in the ground yet. My dad made a “well see” non-committal comment but was surprised at this reaction. We’re all American. Like aren’t we all hoping for what is best for the country and trying our best to make the country better? Shouldn’t the differences cause interesting conversations that helps us grow, learn and come together?

Fast forward two weeks, my 73 year old mother is walking to the mailbox and this neighbor’s three kids (ages 3, 5, 7 ish) are outside on their bikes. The oldest yells over “{name of Political party of sign in her yard} Lady” (think Republican Lady or Democrat Lady). My mom is kinda shocked but responds “actually call me science lady, that’s what I am”. And he responds “I’ll call you fat lady.” My mom didn’t respond because she was so taken aback. She calls me and is upset. I tell her that our best response is kindness. That it is our job as a society to kindly correct name calling and political division with kindness.

Later that day I go over to bring my mom dinner, park my car in the driveway and the three kids are out in the driveway on their bikes. I wave and say “hi kids” like I always do. They have seen me wave and say hi to them a million times in the year they have been my parents neighbors. The oldest says “{political candidates name on sign} girl” (think Trump girl or Biden girl). I said “what” sure I didn’t hear him correct, heck, I don’t live in that house. He says “{political candidates name on sign} girl”, again. Nope, I heard him right. I said, “you know I am actually conflicted about politics at the moment. And you know what is better than talking about politics? Being kind. Let’s practice kindness today”. And I was shocked at how much that interaction upset me.

Since these interaction, the kids seem scared of me and my mom. Which makes zero sense. When I say “hi” they ignore me. Ok, cool, I will continue to wave and say hi every time. Because this is kindness and I want to live in a kind country no matter who the President is. We are ALL leaders and it is our daily actions that will dictate what type of country we live in.

Since when as a country did a difference of opinion over a yard sign mean name calling and being disrespectful to elders? What happens to our country when the children who are being taught that a difference of political opinion allows them a negative hateful reaction are the adults? I beg all of you with children in your houses to teach them this election season that we are all American. To teach them that when someone has a different view, instead of looking for differences look for what makes you similar. To teach them that when someone has a different view to be kind to them because kind needs to always win over hate. We can’t teach hate to our children and expect this country to be a positive place in our future.

The next few days are going to be hard. One candidate will win, one won’t. Either way, we are all still American and have the option to be sad, lick our wounds, and then come together as citizens to create the future we want. The power isn’t actually with the President. The power to create an amazing country lies within each and every one of us and the way we handle our day to day actions. I beg you to always choose kindness.

This song is so spot on and ahead of it’s time. We have to be taught to hate. Love is innate. Let’s all choose love.