I know there’s been SO much out there about the recent U.S. elections. I don’t mean to add to the blah blah blah, but it’s like my brain won’t rest until it’s written. This is not a post expressing my like or dislike for either candidate. This is merely thoughts from a foreign national as I’ve observed this election from afar.
I live in South Africa. Throughout this year, I’ve traveled to other countries. These musings come from my experience as an American listening to what people are saying. This is what has felt incredible to me. The world’s eyes are on America. I don’t mean that in the prideful sense at all. This statement was solidified when Super Tuesday results were rolling in, and was trending in South Africa while Julius Malema’s (leader of the EFF party here in South Africa) comment, “We are not calling for the slaughter of white people, at least for now,” got pushed to the back burner. Don’t worry. He was slammed by fellow South Africans for making such a ludicrous, hateful statement. People were more interested in reporting and hearing who the next President of the United States was going to be rather than being concerned with the hateful words of a rogue freedom fighter in their own country. Whether we like it or not, America is an influential leader.
Do you know what the weight of being an influential leader is? It’s this: influential leaders create a baseline standard for others to follow, they just do. If someone you look up to is speaking nasty, then it must be OK to follow those same actions, right? Well, no, it isn’t. The campaigning during the last U.S. election was nasty, the world was watching, and the baseline standard was lowered several notches. Whenever my husband watched the news on the Internet, it contained backbiting and each candidate trying to make themselves look better than the other one. The world watched and couldn’t believe America had dropped to such a low level, and it saddens me that our influence is currently feeding negativity.
Post election, with the president elect at our head I’ve read so many stories of hate involving people of all ages. I can’t believe it. I’m not blaming the president elect, people make their own choices, but I will say this: influence is a dangerous weapon if not used lovingly and wisely. As the world watches, I want everyone to know America doesn’t hate them. I want the world to know I celebrate every culture and color and difference, because they are what make us unique and beautiful. I want my fellow Africans to know that I see the beauty in their skin, their accent, and their lives. My white skin doesn’t change that.
This week in South Africa, our staff, made up of Americans, Brazilians, South Africans, and Burundians, are practicing random acts of kindness toward ourselves, those we work with, those we live with, and total strangers. There is power in kindness, positive power that fuels people in the most beautiful ways. Let’s leave hate by the wayside and forge on with love and kindness. The world is watching. Will you join me?