In Another's Shoes (+ a Poem)



"Sunset after a storm, Thomas Moran"


Jul. 8th, 2020


To be honest, both sides of the political spectrum scare me. On the radical left I see censureship of free speech and erasure of religion. On the radical right I see blatant disregard for human life and a hunger for money and power.


That's all well and good, you might say, but Addie, those are the radicals.


That's the problem.


The internet has made everyone a radical.


On Twitter, there are no nuanced discussions. Any attempt to see the gray between the red and blue is met not with applause but rather with offense. If you stay nuanced, and you stay neutral, you risk offending not just one side of the arguement but rather both.


But the truth is, too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. Anything can be taken and twisted until it's so extreme it's barely recognizable.


For example, religion can be a very life-giving and beautiful thing. Yet when taken too far, we end up with cults. Another example - one that I haven't experienced, but have talked to my parents about - is alchohol. Drinking in moderation is fine, but alchohol addiction is devastating. Politics is like a religion, like a drink, like a drug. Take it moderately or risk the consequences.


I would like to tell my children someday, "The pandemic brought our nation together. We all worked together and rose up as one. We were divided, but when we faced tragedy we united."


Instead, I will tell my children, "We were divided before the pandemic, and during the pandemic, our division cost us lives. We were too weak willed to face the fact that others believe differently than ourselves. We bought into the partisan system like it was a church. We worshipped at it's altar. And we paid the price."


I am losing faith in this country. I am a stubborn optimist and yet I am becoming disillusioned with the idea that we could ever set aside our differences and join together. Every day I wake up, hopeless about the state of things.


People refusing masks in the grocery store... flame wars erupting over social media... children addicted to their screens not knowing they're absorbing the toxic and warped messages of a toxic and warped world...


and still COVID-19 claims more lives. And still there are some who vehemently deny it's presence.


And still we, Americans, we fight.


We do not uplift each other. We do not empathize. We do not take the time it takes to truly understand what it's like to walk a mile in another one's shoes.


Why is this so impossible?


Humanity looks out only for themselves, or those they care about. It's part of who we are. However, just because it's what we do doesn't mean we have to.


Empathy is within your reach. It's a choice you have to make. Every single day.


As Atticus Finch once said, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."


Empathy, understanding, and unity take effort. They are not easy. In fact, they go against our very nature.


I don't want to lose faith - I don't want to lose hope.


Something has to change.



Note: I originally wrote this poem for a friend battling depression. However, I feel it also depicts well my emotions now. The other day, I realized I can't lose anyone to this pandemic. I have too much love for all of you. I just can't lose you.


So please, hold on tight to life, guys. Wear a mask. Wear a mask! And be safe.


Okay?


Hold on tight to life

Grab on, both hands and never let go, okay?

Hold on, wait, I'm coming, I swear

Hold on, wait for me


Cause I can't lose you

No, I can't lose you

No matter if your monsters swallow you whole

I will follow you into the belly of the beast


My greatest fear is not of death

It's that you'll die and I'll be left

behind without you by my side


And if I died, it's true, I would miss this place

Yes, but I can't go a day without your face

So don't go away, okay?

I can't lose you

No, I can't lose you

No matter what dark paths you travel,

I will follow you all the way


Hold my hand, and

I promise someday you will understand

Why I stuck by your side

Every time

But for now just put your hand in mine


You have a big heart

the world needs it

I swear you're worth it

Every second


You have a bright smile

The world needs light

I swear you get more beautiful

Every time


And I can't lose you, no I can't lose you


No matter if you're sinking

I will swim to the bottom with you





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@2020 by Addison Vallier

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