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Rivera Sun: Choose respect in this election cycle

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As the primaries heat up and the nation goes through the throes of another election cycle, cast your vote for something unexpected, something that defies the lies of politicians, something that could save our nation – and most certainly our souls.

Make a choice to weather this election year with respect and decency toward your fellow citizens, no matter our political views.

In past years, our election cycles have been marked with fear, distrust, polarization, heightened divisiveness, even violence. In 2024, if we do one thing as citizens, let’s end this toxic cycle.

Respect. Safety. Decency. These common values may or may not be reflected on the ballot, but we’ll be making choices for or against them this year. We’ll ‘vote’ for them through our actions and words in countless ways from now until November 5, 2024 – and beyond.

The choice is reflected in whether or not we:

  • Discuss the nominees and issues respectfully with family and friends.
  • Post articles that are inflammatory or factual on social media.
  • Be careful about spreading misinformation versus fact-based information.
  • Choose yard signs that are respectful or derogatory.
  • Show up at polling places calmly and without violence.
  • Help neighbors, elders, youth, and others get to the polls safely.
  • Refrain from harassment or intimidation of those who don’t share our views.
  • Hold back on insults and sneers at those with whom we disagree.
  • Take the time to listen to our fellow citizens and hear their just grievances.
  • Support poll workers and election officials in counting the vote fairly.
  • Accept the results of a fair and just election.

As individual citizens, we can do a lot to ensure that the escalating fear and division in our country stops with us. With deep respect for our fellow citizens, we can take a stand for common decency and ask others to join us. We can offer each other a basic dignity that transcends left and right political views.

In this manner, we cast a ‘vote’ for us, the people. It’s a choice that rejects the polarizing lies of pundits and politicians. It is a patriotism that we desperately need to remember, one that affirms our love of country and our sense of self-worth as a people.

It also helps us unravel the profitable hate-mongering that has brought us to our current predicament. Many of us already suspect that the violent rhetoric, the aggressive behaviors, belligerence, disdain, and distrust fomented by both political parties isn’t serving us.

As everyday people – workers, parents, citizens, neighbors – we have not gained job security or economic relief from the politics of hate. The violence that has marked the past years has not brought safety for our children. The intolerance of others has not improved the qualities of our lives.

Why not reject the politics of hate in favor of the culture of mutual respect? It’s one powerful political choice that every American can make this year.

There are many issues that we expect our president and politicians to sort out. But changing the way we behave during an election year . . . that’s on us.

The choice is yours. It’s ours.

Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, has written numerous books, including The Dandelion Insurrection and the award-winning Ari Ara Series. She is the editor of Nonviolence News and the Program Coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns.

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