Opinion: Now that the election is over, we should all work for unity
I’m not a news person. You won’t hear me claim to be one.
I’m a sports journalist.
As my friend Miles Smith pointed out in his column last week, I have nearly two decades of experience in newspapers, nearly all in the sports world. I’ve been a reporter, a designer, an editor and a manager.
I didn’t have aspirations out of journalism school of being the next Bob Woodward or Dan Rather. I wanted to cover college basketball.
I recently accepted a buyout from my former employer, the Austin American-Statesman, where I served as a sports bridge editor for the past four years. To simplify it, my job was to make sure there was a sports section every day in the newspaper.
I got out of the newspaper business because I felt it was the right time to do so. Let’s be honest, news isn’t quite what it was when I was an aspiring editor at Marshall University in the late 1990s.
Miles talked me into returning to the newspaper world while he celebrates his marriage in Spain for the next two weeks. It just so happens that I jump into this short-term gig during an election cycle that I’m pretty tired of hearing and talking about.
I’m not sure if a blue or red wave came on Tuesday as I wrote this. After all, I wrote this while lying in my bed Monday night.
My family and I have several varying differences of political opinions. I won’t disclose them here, but it has reached a point that when my father calls me, I will ignore the call because I don’t want to have the same argument over and over again that usually leaves us both angry.
I often wonder how did we get here as a society?
When I was growing up, political opinions were not taboo or reason for anger. It was like sports where we could debate what team is better and move on.
I can sit and debate sports all night and not get angry.
My girlfriend, a Cowboys fan, and myself, a Seattle sports purist, have debated numerous times about why the Cowboys are no longer American’s team.
Before you hit send on that nasty email, just hear me out.
In our debates on the merits of the Cowboys still calling themselves, “America’s team,” she and I don’t call each other names, get in arguments to a point where we don’t talk to each other or look at each other different because of the difference of opinion.
How did we get so divisive with our beliefs as to what we feel is right or wrong?
The world today is filled with so much hate and so much division. I’ll be honest: I don’t watch cable news. This sports guy doesn’t even watch ESPN, albeit for much different reasons than why I don’t watch CNN or Fox News.
Again, how did we get here?
Going back to that debate I have with my girlfriend … She and I can debate this and not get angry with each other. Her brother-in-law threatened to ban me from his home in Dallas last Christmas if I wore my Seahawks gear while the Cowboys played Seattle.
After the game in which my Seahawks beat his Cowboys, he and I were able to shake hands and sit next to each other at the dinner table later that evening.
That’s the thing: while divisive by nature, sports still brings us all together.
Even if I loathe the Cowboys, my girlfriend and I can still look each other in the eye and say, “I love you.” Her brother-in-law will shake my hand and still invite me into his home. Neither will avoid my phone call. And I’ll be honest here, all of us do have different political beliefs just as our sports opinions differ, if your into that kind of thing.
I truly believe that what makes American great is our diversity. Whether you are a Jew, Christian, Muslim, African-American, Hispanic, Caucasian, Republican or Democrat, we are all still Americans.
I moved to Austin in 2003 after I graduated college because I wanted a life that I could not get in my home state of West Virginia.
I wanted to live in a place where I felt I could be different and not be judged by my beliefs or background.
I believe that America is great because our differences are what makes us human beings, and instead of judging each other for them, we should be able to sit at the table and embrace them, or at least shake each other’s hands afterwards.
After this election, I hope our leaders will begin talk of unity, rather than speech that continues to divide us.