I cringe every single time I open my Facebook newsfeed lately. It seems every day now as we approach the Presidential election, my newsfeed is filled with reactions to the latest in the Trump v Hillary “I am not as bad as he/she is” war.
Perhaps if people only posted why their candidate is fabulous it would be easier to read through. But with mudslinging and hate spewing soaring to new heights, I am inventing a word to sum up the nonstop hate-fest for candidates: candihates.
What amazes me, though, is not actually the freeverse hating itself that’s happening, it’s who is behind it. The same Facebook Friends that show pictures of their family’s religious activities at churches and synagogues and those that regularly share inspirational quotes that encourage their followers to be peaceful and kind and spread good karma, are the same folks that are publishing posts with hateful, hateful words about the candidate they don’t support and/or literally calling the supporters of the other candidate stupid, ignorant, and criminal (true story!). So I ask in all educated, compassionate seriousness: What the hell?
WHAT THE HELL?
I suppose if my perspective on life didn’t get a massive, unintended shift sixteen years ago I could very well be one of those Facebook Friends that spews hate for those that disagree with me. I would like to think I’d be more evolved and Christian than that but I am not here to wonder or to judge. I am simply here to offer a different avenue, a much more productive outlet for haters to channel their hate energy in a positive way.
A fun fact to consider as I move into my suggestion: Although considerable, productive advocacy work has been done in the past few decades, including excellent legislation – the Help Americans Vote Act – that was passed in 2002, the fact remains that there are voting places that are inaccessible to blind voters, and many that are equipped to include blind Americans’ votes are staffed by people that have no idea how to work the accessible machines. Full inclusion for all blind voters is not yet a reality in America, and I hate that fact.
To that end, I shall borrow one of the most epic statements in our country’s history:
I have a dream.
I have a dream that citizens of this great nation will shout out hate for inaccessibility and over use their right to free speech via smartphones and laptops to demand change.
I have a dream that Americans will demand accessibility for every neighbor’s voting rights instead of slamming each neighbor for their voting choice.
I have a dream that all voting machines will be accessible for the blind and the sighted.
I have a dream that today’s technological advances will be translated to the voting machines to make full inclusion a reality.
I have a dream that all the passionate Americans that are using precious mental energy to attack the opposing candidate on Facebook, would instead use that passion to rise up and stand up for full voter, full American, inclusion.
WHY THE PASSION FOR THIS?
My oldest blind son will be of voting age in 2 years. My younger blind son will be eligible to vote in 5 years. Both have had a passion and great talent for student government since way back in elementary school. Both are effective leaders that actually weigh opinions of all involved. Both agree on some current issues and fiercely debate others. Both of my boys have shattered people’s perceptions of what blind people can accomplish, yet I live my life trying to stay one step ahead of their dreams to blast through barriers in their way. When we moved to our current town twelve years ago, we started asking about accessible voting machines for our boys. It frustrates me to consider that in all the towns they move on to in their very bright futures, will they always have to call and ask if their polling place has an accessible machine as well as people that know how to operate it? In this day and age, where cell phone creators and cable tv providers build accessibly into their products, isn’t it time the election committees do the same with voting equipment?
Considering my boys and the other million + adults living with blindness and visual impairment I will say it again:
I have a dream that all of the passionate Americans that are using precious mental energy to attack the opposing candidate would instead use that passion to rise up and stand up for full voter, full American, inclusion.
I wonder how many of my Facebook Friends will investigate the accessibility of their polling places. For those that do, I am very interested to know the outcome!