By K.C. Doman, Class of 2020
You would think if you lived in D.C. that you would be able to watch the Presidential Inauguration. That may very well be true, but not for a girl who wakes at the pitiful hour of 8:00 a.m. on the morning of January 20th. Upon my arrival to the National Mall, all the space in close proximity to the Capitol Building had long since been infested with citizens. All the people who wanted to watch the actual inauguration had either bought tickets and had a seat reserved, or woke up early enough to get through security before the masses of protesters arrived.
My intention was never to participate in the active protests, but I ended up in the middle of it all because of how crowded the city streets were that morning. My friends and I had to wait in a long line, and during that time we encountered a lot of the protesters. After being immersed in that kind of environment for a good three hours, I realized I hadn’t fully grasped the weight of the schism in our country until that day.
When it comes to politics, I don’t even know which side I fall on. This is something about which I wish I had more clarity at this point in my life. But I know I’m not the only one who considers herself to be very conservative on some issues and very liberal on others. Not to mention, there are a lot of factors that go into the formation of my views. They include the way I was raised, my religion, people who have influenced me on the other side, and finally, what I think is right. Sadly but unsurprisingly, these are things that are frequently in conflict with one another, and of which perhaps none always give me the best advice. So one can see how I hesitated to participate in the melodious chants: “No fascism, no KKK, no racist USA!”. Not because I don’t renounce all three of those ideas; I do. But because I’m not sure how much of a real threat I think those things are in our nation today. I’m still not sure what side of the debate I belong on, but being immersed in the heart of the protests did nothing to help me decide. At one point waiting in the line, a woman turned my attention to a man who seemed to be scolding a child about issues that probably soared over her head.
Witnessing that really bothered me, and all I could think was “I am 18 and barely feel like I am old enough to have fully formed opinions on topics such as these… We should be preserving the children’s innocence and leaving the consequences of the dirty work to the adults who created it.” Is this the kind of nation we want to give our children? A place where extreme division causes an adolescent to feel lost in the search for her voice; where a child is yelled at by a grown man over politics? We, as a nation, should really evaluate the kind of scene we are providing for the next generation to discuss and work through the many differences in opinion that might exist.
Fostering an environment where differences can be solution-oriented rather than inherently divisive is an important concept that shouldn’t be overlooked. I think the USA can and should be a place where differing opinions are respected and where solutions can be reached through the efforts of people on both sides working together. Anything less would fall short of true democracy.
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