The recent events that have shaken the country to its core have left me feeling heartbroken and wondering, “how did we get here? How do we move forward?” I know Americans are resilient; we have bounced back from tragedy before and we can do it again, and I know it won’t be the last time either. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but a long, arduous process is in store. It is possible, however, no matter how cynical you may be.

Don’t get me wrong. I am eternally optimistic about the trajectory of humanity but despite that optimism, every day I still shed tears for my country, for its people, our children, their future. I often worry that we are too divided to overcome our differences, to unify. In my heart though, I know better so I choose to hold onto hope.

Hope… that one day we can agree to disagree, learn to compromise, and hopefully find balance and empathy within our hearts and treat each other with the kindness and respect we all deserve. We spend so much time obsessing over our differences and not enough time reflecting on what makes us alike. When you take  the time to acknowledge differences, you learn from it.

We need to listen to one another with an open mind and an open heart. It pains me to see fellow Americans across social media “blocking” one another simply because they belong to the “wrong” political party; there is no such thing! The leadership of both parties, the people we chose to represent us, have failed us. Instead of fostering kindness and unity, they work tirelessly to pit us against each other and use us as pawns to do their dirty work. As a country where we have a two-party system, we should have an open mind and be embracing all different kinds of views. With an open mind you achieve progress and growth and greatness, not close mindedness and echo chambers.

Try to listen to all sides, get all the facts, come to your own conclusion and welcome civil discussion. The only person you are hurting when you block a fellow American, is yourself. You are building a wall between yourself and that person, whose only crime is belonging to the other party. By building that wall before you even exchange words, you are choosing to remain ignorant to other opinions, choosing to remain blissfully ignorant of anything that might make you question your beliefs.

People don’t like to admit they are wrong or that they might have been misled and taken advantage of. Because that reality is too painful to accept, they double down and refuse to engage in any debate, where both parties have an opportunity to engage in open discussion, making their best argument and perhaps, God forbid, challenge your opinion. It takes grace as well as the ability to reflect on your thoughts and actions to admit something that they have strongly denied for so long.

I have a hard time understanding why anyone would refuse to support a “progressive” agenda. The opposite of progressive is regressive. When we make progress, we learn and grow, we break barriers and celebrate our evolution as human beings to become the best version of ourselves. The unique and incredible beings that we are, the things that make us human, that we take for granted every single day.

There is no value in dwelling in the past. Of course we should look to the past to learn from our mistakes, seemingly a simple concept, yet a brief look to history confirms humankind has not yet grasped it fully. When we don’t reflect on the past, we can’t learn from our mistakes and that keeps us trapped in a vicious cycle, unable to progress, with history repeating again and again without fail.

Knowledge isn’t lame, it is power. You know what’s really lame? Refusing to learn about other cultures, different views, anything that can expand your perspective is pure laziness and quite honestly, inexcusable, especially when you have access to unlimited knowledge at your fingertips at any given moment. You should be striving to learn something new every day. Be curious, open a book, travel to another country if your situation allows. Knowledge is food for your brain and your brain is thirsty for new thoughts and ideas to help it reach its full potential. Use every opportunity and encounter as a learning experience, a chance to evolve into the best version of yourself. Despite what you think, you can actually learn something from someone you disagree with, but only if you have compassion, not hate, anger or resentment toward someone you have never met or know anything else about aside from their snarky Twitter comment. Listen to them with an open heart and let them speak, being mindful that they are just as entitled to their beliefs as you are to yours. Your contempt for this Internet stranger, this fellow American, is misplaced. It should be directed to your elected officials who have not fulfilled their oath to their constituents, but have lined their pockets at the taxpayers expense. Your fellow Americans, voters, just like you, did nothing to you, so why treat them with such disregard? Stop hurting and fighting each other. Peacefully engage with them, you may find you have more in common than you think. Find some common ground and wield it wisely as you would a super power, confront your representatives to take action for the good of the country, not just one party or class of people.

Everyone has been talking about how to unify the country moving forward. Perhaps it’s not just unity we should strive for, but balance (n. bal-ance: an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady). Only when something is balanced, is there harmony. Take a look around, have you seen any harmony lately? All I’ve seen is hate and destruction; we are completely out of balance. But how do we create more harmony in a time of social toxicity and bitter disagreement?

America has long been regarded as a role model for democracy but unfortunately we lost that privilege with our appalling national behavior. We are no longer role model material to anyone or any country or other citizens around the world who may be hoping for change or a new direction in their own country. Most importantly, to our children who look up to us, who are our future; we are not behaving like a role model should and they deserve better.

We need to set a GOOD example for our children. Take some time to really reflect on the past few years. What are our children learning from us right now? We are teaching them that it's okay to be violent, hateful, and dishonest. Is that what you want to foster in your child's developing mind? Everyone wants their children to live in a better world than they grew up in. But the hard truth is we are only making it worse, and will continue to do so until things change.

Let's set a good example for our children; the children that have already seen a world full of war and suffering.

This ugly behavior is nothing to be proud of. America’s holier than thou attitude has driven a wedge between us and the rest of the world.

It’s good to be proud of the things you’ve accomplished and it should be celebrated! But it's time that we accept that it’s okay to let others enjoy the spotlight. That doesn’t make you a loser, that makes you a team player. Americans act like it’s sacrilege to learn from other countries and cultures. Learning about another country’s culture gives you more respect for it and respect is what we need more of right now. Respect for ourselves and to each other. Let's try something new: let's try listening to and learning from others.

Pride is a good thing when it comes from the right place. We should be proud of our ideas, ingenuity, innovation.. but let's not act like we have to be number one at everything we do.

That’s what makes America so great, our diversity, uniqueness. Be proud of THAT.

Why do you think people who travel the world are so cultured/seem so much more sophisticated? They have a much bigger perspective on life outside the United States. They have seen the struggles of developing countries, the potential of others… Other countries have great ideas and great people too. Let's see what they can do. You don’t need to travel the world to gain this perspective.