In the midst of all the chaos and emotions running high this week, let's take a second to be extremely proud of St. Augustine, and our willingness to accept true diversity in our community.
While the Southern Poverty Law Center says that Florida does have hate groups operating in the state of Florida, their "Hate Map" lists St. Augustine as hate group free.
While the press (Even locally) may try to play to our deepest emotions and fears, it is good to know, at last here at home, that St. Augustine's neighbors remain more united than divided. We truly have a history of growing in the face of adversity in this town, and have never been scared of diversity or going against the grain at times to respect it.
I have honestly noticed over the years, that in the face of extreme perceived racial divide nationally, the people of St. Augustine seem to only come closer together. People of all backgrounds and ethnicities go out of our way here to show each other that, we're not the people on CNN or FOX News. We smile a little bigger at each other. We hold doors a bit longer for each other. I look into my neighbors' eyes in times like this, and you can almost feel the instant, unspoken sentiment that, "Shit's fucked up, but that's not who I am, and I know that's not who you are. We're not falling for it."
But I will say there's one area we can improve in...
Let's make something else very clear right now. Something no other media source in town, and very few people across the nation will tell you because it's not a sexy enough soundbite or headline, and because it ends their constant need to talk shit about the other side.
Most Democrats voted against Trump, and most Republicans voted against Hillary. Hillary voters were more excited about Bernie Sanders, and Trump voters were more enthusiastic about other candidates as well in the beginning.
So let's PLEASE stop pretending we believe the two main criticisms from the mouthpieces of both laughably corrupt political power parties. We all know logically that the VAST majority of Trump voters are NOT racists, homophobics, or bigots, and the VAST majority of Hillary voters are NOT communists who hate white people and want terrorism to run rampant. Very few felt like they had their ideal candidate in either party. The political class on both sides of the isle have strayed so far from that of their constituents' that the parties are unrecognizable to many people.
It's all just political football games now to divert from real issues.
One thing we can improve on here and around the country, is falling into the trap of becoming personally disgusted towards our friends and neighbors based on their vote in this election. That's what diversity is about, respecting each others differences and being ok with it. Most people will tell you that no one's personal beliefs are, or would have been 100% in line with either Candidate's views in this election.
We may not have any official hate groups in St. Augustine, but I've seen enough baseless arguments over recent days that it's honestly a bit disheartening. I just want to know when we became those people, who are so obsessed with politics that we are willing to lose friendships over what a President says and when he says it. Don't project him, or any other political figure for that matter, R or D on yourselves or your friends and family. It's not fair. We are not "our" politicians. Especially in today's world.
While this article is most definitely praise for our local community, I think we all need to take a step back sometimes and assess how much these situations should negatively impact our own lives. Love and happiness are the true keys to life. And we have shown through history that those are things we are great at. Let's keep intact our positive traditions and continue to give those gifts to each other here in St. Augustine, so that we don't ever end up on this map.