Open and honest dialogue is crucial in moving forward

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I wrote in my last opinion piece that this election was immensely important overseas. This point was no better demonstrated than on election night when scores of Danes turned out to an election watch party and stayed until the race was officially called at 8 a.m..

I spent the rest of that day alternating between immense rage and profound despair. I came into contact with my first Trump supporter around 2 p.m..

I could’ve handled it better, perhaps with more sleep. I left that interaction feeling worse than before though because I realized that no matter the strength of my argument or the validity of my concerns, I had still lost. For the first time since I’ve followed politics, my beliefs are not going to be represented in the highest office. Now what?

I’ve read about the protests across the nation. I want to encourage the demonstrations because the historically oppressed need to have their voices heard and I know how good solidarity feels. I want to believe anger and anguish are the best ways to respond, but I can’t. I don't think this is the time.

If the results of this election say anything, it’s that something was missing from the demonstrations and the rallies and the movement. We were missing genuine conversation and understanding. And now is the perfect time to correct that.

We can post about how racist and bigoted the U.S. is, but that doesn’t fix the fact that people in the U.S. are racist and bigoted. And maybe they don’t want to be that way. If we always talk about how horrible the rural,white,male population is, they’re never going to listen to us. They’re never going to want to work with us or vote with us. They are going to have children who are racist and bigoted and who might swing the next important election.

DePauw is in many ways the ideal environment for liberal ideas to flourish, but outside our campus is a predominantly white, rural, working-class population that does not always understand our beliefs. We don’t understand their beliefs. We just don’t. We can’t. Unless we’ve lived their experiences, we liberal millennials cannot understand rural conservatives.

We need to talk to them. We need to start to repair this nation because we have to move forward. The thing I’ve heard from every conservative friend and family member since the election is that they understand how I feel when I’m upset I won’t be represented the next four years because they have spent the last 7¾ years feeling like that.

I didn’t know they felt like that. I refused to understand that while I liked where the country was headed, a lot of people, for various reasons, did not. I didn’t hear their cries, and, again, if the results of this election say anything, it’s that their concerns cannot be ignored.

To repair this nation, we need to start in Greencastle. Our relationship with the community has been rocky. We’ve had gay pride flags ripped down, and we’ve seen Confederate flags on cars and houses. To be clear: I do not think many people in Greencastle are racist or bigoted or otherwise hateful, but whatever hate that exists here or elsewhere is a product of the barriers and divisions caused by the self-sorting of Americans into communities of the like-minded.

Being students on a liberal campus in a conservative area allows us to be on the forefront of inter-ideological discussion, which the country desperately needs in order to combat increasing partisanship. We need to be open with an understanding of each person we confront concerning the issues of this election. This is the only way to move forward and to prevent whatever just happened from happening again.